LinkedIn Yumi Wilson's tips for optimizing your profile for recruiters

A LinkedIn corporate communications manager offered fascinating insights into how the algorithm works and how best optimize your profile for SEO purposes and getting discovered.

It was part of the session I led called “Jobs? They’re in Social Media: The New Frontier” at the 64th annual Southern Regional Press Institute hosted by Savannah State University.

Sharon Dunten, president of the Society of Professional Journalists Georgia and longtime newspaper journalist, and Yumi Wilson, manager of corporate communications at LinkedIn and journalism professor at San Francisco State University, spoke about trends in social media landscape for journalists.

Wilson leads LinkedIn training sessions around the country. She said your online presence being found is incredibly important and that contributing to social networks gives search engines more to pull from.

She demonstrated ways to optimize LinkedIn profiles for the professional network’s algorithm. Optimizing the profile is key to getting your name higher up in LinkedIn search results compared to others with the same name. Here are some key insights from her presentation:  

Think of profile as a whole package – Wilson pointed out: Employers see you as a whole so they are more likely to contact you if you have other things in common. Even adding something that isn’t directly tied to your industry, such as working as a fitness instructor, can round out your abilities.

Attract recruiters – Appeal to recruiters by expressing feeling. Wilson said that statistically speaking recruiters are looking for passive candidates – those who are not looking for a new job. “If you’re excited about what you’re doing right now, tell us that,” Wilson said. That excitement expressed in profile tells recruiters that people aren’t actively looking for a job, which makes it more attractive to them. “Let’s talk about the things you truly love to do,” she said.

Make the algorithm work for you  – The headline and summary are more heavily ranked in the LinkedIn algorithm than description of job experience, according to Wilson. The algorithm adds up all your years of experience for recruiters. If you have several freelance jobs going on at once, combining them under one or a few single titles might be the best way to consolidate them under one block of time. Wilson said by combining those positions under one section, the algorithm will pick up that as part of the keywords, not the total years.

Humanize your profile with storytelling – Applying storytelling techniques to your profile can make a significant impression. Wilson said: At the end of the day we want to like you. We want to see your passion. Tell your story. For instance, Wilson said she has a tagline that describes what she loves doing on her profile. “You have to kind of weave your own narrative,” she said.

Create a rich summary – Tell the story in three paragraphs. Consider it as a conversation – emotional truth telling. Make it at least 40 words. The second line of your summary should describe your true calling before keywords that effective describe your skill set, Wilson advises. Break the summary into paragraphs and focus on the aspirational and true calling parts. “Whatever your goal is, think of yourself as a storyteller. Tell your story,” she said.

Think outside the box – Wilson pointed out that recruiters are looking for people who think outside the books with their profile content. Is there a slide presentation or video that can be added to make your profile stand out? “It’s a visual story that we’re telling now,” she described of the trend with profile content.

Choose your industry wisely – Don’t pigeonhole yourself. Wilson’s advice: Choose the industry you want to be in, not the industry you’ve been working in. This section is located two fields below your name on the edit profile page.  

Seek recommendations – Have others tell the story. Wilson said LinkedIn advises getting three letters of recommendation. That letter goes right into your experience by the submitter. She emphasized how content is critical in personal branding. “Everyone who is occupying the content space, they’re marketers,” she said.

Gauge your profile’s strength – See how strong your profile is by checking out the types of jobs that are recommended to you based on your profile. Wilson said that is an indication of how your profile is doing – and is viewed in the eyes of others.

Aim for all-star status – LinkedIn displays your profile strength. Wilson said everyone can have an all-star profile by following LinkedIn’s tips such as adding a section to your profile.

Sharing strengthens networking – Try sharing good job listings to other social networks using the share options in LinkedIn. Wilson said because now what you’re doing, you’re being a value to others before the ask.

Don’t discount unpaid experience – Those who might have limited professional experience, Wilson suggested having a section to talk about aspirations and especially relevant volunteer work. She recommended then moving those volunteer and causes up higher on the page if you don’t have job listings. For example, if you worked three to five years as a TV producer, all of those can be listed as volunteer that can be added in a separate section. Then that section can be prioritized using the drag and drop. Experience that doesn’t relate directly will help illustrate your multiple experience. Courses, transitioning or transforming into a new industry, area of study or more are just as important to include in the profile.

Join groups – One of the benefits of joining groups is monitoring and interacting with others around the same topic. Wilson put forth another benefit: Join the same group that a recruiter belongs to, then you can message the recruiter for free. In that message, mention the job and url. However, she added that getting an introduction from someone connected to that recruiter is even better though. 

Do you have other suggestions for what has worked for you on LinkedIn? Share them in the comments.