How to make your LinkedIn profile a magnet for recruiters

How to make your LinkedIn profile a magnet for recruiters

Let me ask you a question: would you prefer to search LinkedIn for days, weeks or even months to find the right job, or would you prefer to wake up in the morning, check your LinkedIn inbox and find a message from a recruiter who found you via their own search, offering you an interview?

Well, I bet you answered the second one, right? The second option is called a “passive job offer," as you haven’t actively searched for one, and can also be called a “pull job search strategy." Passive job offers from recruiters save you time, energy and a lot of disappointment.

LinkedIn as a recruiting machine

In recent years, LinkedIn has become not only an amazing platform for connecting professionals with each other, but a huge recruiting machine. To cut down recruiting costs of advertising the job offers in traditional ways, recruiters now use LinkedIn as their top recruitment tool. And to look for talent, they not only rely on posting the jobs on LinkedIn and waiting for the people to apply, but also actively use it to search LinkedIn to scout for talent that hasn’t applied for the jobs yet.

How to build an attractive LinkedIn profile

So, how do you build a LinkedIn profile that will work as a magnet for recruiters? You will need to make sure you’ve taken care of the following steps:

1. Keywords, keywords, keywords

Before you actually start doing anything on your LinkedIn profile, I would invite you to do some proper “market” research for your own job, profile, industry, etc. Why do I say that? Because whether you are working on your headline, summary, skills or experience section, the most important thing you need to keep in mind are the keywords. Recruiters will use those keywords to scout the talent they are looking for. If you want to be chased by recruiters rather than chasing them yourself, this point is crucial.

What is the best way to find relevant keywords? I suggest doing the following:

  • Find five recent job offers that are similar to the position you have now
  • Find five recent job offers that you are interested in now - they represent the job you are after
  • Find five (great!) LinkedIn profiles of people with similar jobs to your current one
  • Find five (great!) LinkedIn profiles of people who are your career role models

Once you have gathered those, the fun part starts. Scan all of them and find all relevant keywords, key phrases and key sentences that represent your skills, talents, experience, etc. One of the easy ways to do this is by using word cloud software to scan for the most common keywords. Put these keywords in a separate document. This document will be your keywords treasure chest that you can use not only for your LinkedIn profile but also for writing your CV and cover letter.

Remember that keywords and phrases coming from job offers were written by recruiters, so they will be used to search for people like you, provided you did your homework and included them.

2. Profile photo

The chances are close to zero that any recruiter will have a look at your profile if you do not have a photo. But I assume you are a professional, and you have one. I would strongly recommend having one taken by a professional photographer. There are many budget-friendly professional photographers out there, if you are on a tighter budget.

Please make sure your photo showcases you as a professional. After all, LinkedIn is not meant for your family and friends but for professional use. This doesn’t mean you have to look very serious, on the contrary, smiling and friendly faces attract more attention than very serious ones.

3. Background photo

Having a background photo (the one behind you that looks pretty grey if you do not upload your own picture) might not make or break your whole profile, but it makes it complete, and it makes it look like you care - like you have put in an effort. When selecting one, I suggest you think about the message you want to convey with it. If you are in a sustainability sector, put up something that represents that. If you are in finance, put up something that reflects that.

There are plenty of professional websites that offer free photos - I use Unsplash myself.

4. Headline

Having the right headline is key to making your profile a magnet for recruiters and hiring managers. Next to the photo, it is the first thing the recruiter will lay their eyes on. Even more importantly, the headline and keywords you put there play a big part in whether your profile will be included in the search results of a recruiter or not.

As mentioned in point one, the way you build your headline will be based on the keyword search document you have created. So, find out what the most relevant keyword is and make sure you include it in your headline. It can be your title, but it can also be a certain hard skill, experience or market you operate in.

5. Summary

The summary is the place to show who you are as a person and professional, and to make a connection that immediately hooks the reader (the recruiter). Please do not write it in the third person - it is meant to make a human connection, so simply write in ‘I’ form.

Again, think of the keywords you want to include here and, as you want to make your next career step, make sure to not only include the keywords from your current job but also from your future one. Make sure you highlight your top skills and experience, but also show that you are a human being, and are passionate about the things you are doing.

6. Open to work

In the past, people who were looking for a new job were putting it in the headline: “Open to new opportunities." If you are still doing this, please STOP immediately. A while ago, LinkedIn launched a feature that allows you to show you are open to work and make it either visible to the whole LinkedIn network (the sign around your profile photo) or visible only to recruiters. So, please use this feature instead.

7. Experience

Last but not least, the experience section. Please be aware that recruiters will mainly look at the last three years of your professional experience, so make sure you put an effort into completing this section. Of course, make sure to include your core responsibilities looking beyond these three years, but the main emphasis should be on your current experience. And again, open your treasure chest document and make sure you sprinkle around the relevant keywords.

Whatever you do, always ask yourself: “How relevant is this to my next career step?”

I am curious, when you look at your LinkedIn profile, do you feel proud, or do you want to hide? Keep in mind you have the power to create a great LinkedIn profile that will work like a magnet for recruiters! Good luck and feel free to ask me any questions in the comments below!

Dorota Klop-Sowinska


Dorota Klop-Sowinska

Official Member of Forbes Coaches Council. I specialize in international career and expat coaching. I am the author of the book Career Jump! How to Successfully Change Your Professional Path...

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AnnaIP 17:37 | 18 November 2021

Dorota thank you for your article. I have a few questions. Should the profile be in 2 languages (Dutch and English) if I am a foreigner? Do I need to give extra information about my studies, like what those studies included, what were they about?

DoSoCoach 10:26 | 19 November 2021

Hi Anna you are welcome! If you apply for English jobs mainly I would skip the Dutch version of your LinkedIn profile. If you are fluent in Dutch and apply for positions that require fluent Dutch than I would consider having a profile in Dutch. Otherwise I would make sure your English profile is spotless. Also lots of Dutch people who have Dutch language based jobs have their profiles in English only. Regarding the second question, sure you can add a short summary of studies especially if those are relevant for the jobs you are applying for. I hope that helps!