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Ask a Recruiter: LinkedIn Basics

Ask a Recruiter LinkedIn Basics
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“Ask a Recruiter” is a new bi-weekly series where we sit down with a recruiting professional and ask our burning questions regarding topics like LinkedIn, resumes and cover letters, and job interviews. Stay tuned!

LinkedIn has been around for 13 years, but it still remains a mystery to most of us just starting out in our career. How much should we post? What should we post? Will we still get hired if we don’t have 100 endorsements and 500 connections?

Melanie Clayton, HR Manager at Inuvo, has been in the recruiting field for 23 years — so she knows a thing or 20 about the ins and outs of LinkedIn. Here are the essential things you need to know to get noticed.

What do recruiters look for on LinkedIn?

When I get on LinkedIn, it’s because I’m looking for a skill set and that’s what I’m going to look for first. So if I’m looking for a developer, I’m going to search for developers, search some keywords, and then I’ll go through their resumes quickly. Then I’ll message them and start a conversation.

How much does LinkedIn matter?

Could I recruit without it? Yes. I could definitely recruit without it. But it’s a network, and that’s the biggest key — networking. For example, if I post a job or if I’m looking for someone and I put that on LinkedIn, I’ve got friends of mine who work for other companies who will notify me and recommend people to me — and that’s all about networking. I think LinkedIn is the tool to do that. I could do it the old school way and send an email out and get the same thing, but [LinkedIn] is just a lot quicker.

When I’m looking for candidates, I have a rule that I’m not gonna look them up on Facebook or Instagram. I put the rule for myself to just have kind of a clear eye on their experience, background, and work history. You can tell a lot about somebody just by where they worked, for how long they worked there, if they jump around a lot; you can read into that a lot more and I don’t want to see what they look like first. I’ll post a job on Facebook, but if I get a resume, I will not look them up. And that’s just my rule. I hire based on your background, not by what you put on social media.

How do you use LinkedIn as a recruiter?

It’s basically a search engine for me to search for certain skill sets. So if I’m looking for someone who’s working for a similar company, sometimes I may search company names to find the skill set that we need. But the majority of the time, I search by skill set. So if I need a developer, I’ll look for specific keywords — like C Sharp. What I look for depends on what the job description entails.

[LinkedIn] is probably my first go-to when I start to search. When people apply, I may look them up on LinkedIn just to see their background. LinkedIn shows some things that a resume doesn’t.

Like what?

Not everyone puts everything on their resume, because a lot of people have the assumption that they should keep their resume short; they don’t want to have it completely loaded. Well, on LinkedIn, you can load it because there’s no limit on what you can put on there. And it’s quicker. It’s quicker to get online and look it up.

Like I said, I do it for company searches too. Being a recruiter and using LinkedIn, I’ve built a rather large network. So it’s always kind of nice to see when someone has changed jobs or they’re looking for a job — and now’s your time to snatch them.

What other sites do you use for recruiting?

LinkedIn hasn’t always been around. It’s the go-to now, but something will replace it soon. is a really good one that’s growing like wildfire right now. I use a lot. So LinkedIn is my go-to just because it’s easy, but after a while…I’ll know if I’m not seeing what I want in 10 minutes.

How do you make yourself findable on LinkedIn?

Keywords. Company names.

What are some common LinkedIn mistakes you see all the time?

Keep it updated. If I know that you’re working somewhere and you haven’t updated…I get irritated when we’ve hired somebody, and they’ve been on our payroll for two months, and it still shows that they’re at their past employer. Which doesn’t help me recruit more people. If we want to work with the best people, then everyone better help do that. When someone uses the excuse, “Oh, I don’t get on there very often,” you know, [that’s] bullshit. When you start working somewhere, you should be proud of it. And I want to see that. I start thinking, “Oh, they don’t really wanna be here…” I don’t like that.

I don’t like people putting their personal crap on LinkedIn. Save that for Facebook. I don’t need to know where you’re going to lunch. I’d rather see articles that interest you and companies that interest you. That’s what I like to look at. I don’t like people complaining. Keep it professional.

What’s your number one LinkedIn pet peeve?

This sounds awful, but people are constantly trying to get me to endorse them. People will endorse me and I have no idea who they are. WHO ARE THEY?

It’s because they want you to endorse them back.

I don’t like that. I don’t care. I don’t need people to endorse me. I know what I’ve done. Every once in awhile I’ll do it because it’s people who I actually care about their career growth and want them to succeed. So I’ll do it then. But [for the most part] I don’t care. That gets on my nerves.

So how important are LinkedIn recommendations and endorsements?

I don’t even look at that. If a peer recommends someone to me, I’ll look at it. But if it’s just on there, no. I look at too many resumes in a day. That’s time wasted.

What are your personal feelings on selfies as LinkedIn profile pictures?

I do not think you should put a selfie on there. And don’t take a picture where you cut out the person next to you. It’s not hard to have someone take a picture of you. I could sit right here and have you take a picture of me and put it on there, you know? [Selfies are] not professional and if you do a selfie, I can tell how old you are. The younger you are, the more likely it’ll be a selfie. I also don’t like no pictures at all; I won’t trust you.

But regardless, if I’m looking at a resume and I like the experience and I go further to look at them on LinkedIn, I’m not concentrating on the picture; I’m concentrating on the work experience. If you look at as many resumes as I do a day, you skip over the non-important stuff — which a lot of times to me is the picture.

How involved should you be in groups on LinkedIn?

I think you should join groups that are in your wheelhouse. I have to be in the know about HR stuff — retention with employees, the new policies. That’s how I learned about open PTO. I came across it on LinkedIn, and then we did a lot of research. You should be looking for what other companies are doing to stay ahead of the competition. The more groups you join, the more articles you’re going to see on the things that you enjoy reading about.

I think of LinkedIn as a learning tool in that it’s not personal. It’s not super social. It’s more just professional and it keeps me on my toes because I may see something that someone in the same field is doing, and I think “oh, what am I not doing? I need to be doing that!” So it’s competition for me. So many recruiters and headhunters use it.

What’s one thing more people should utilize on LinkedIn?

Add skill sets as you get them. don’t just put your profile out there and think “oh, I don’t ever have to look at that again.” It is your professional profile. This is your online resume that’s always out there, so update it as you get new things. At any time, an opportunity could land at your feet. Or say your boss sees it and thinks “oh wow, I didn’t know she did that.”

And if you’re not connected to your boss on LinkedIn, you should be.

What’s the most important LinkedIn feature?

I like to see who’s looking at me. That may tell me who’s actually looking for a job, or [get me thinking] “what did I post that got attention?”

I also would love to post more jobs on LinkedIn, but it’s too freaking expensive. It’s like $500 a pop. If I had all the money in the world, I would post all of our jobs via LinkedIn at all times. Posting it on our job board to get to people is the best way right now. And everyone I’m friends with on LinkedIn should share it too. Network, network, network — that’s the biggest thing.

One piece of advice for people using LinkedIn to find a job?

Like I said before, keep it updated. Look for jobs. It is so easy to look for a job on LinkedIn. Because they constantly throw it in your face. So if you’re looking for a job, utilize it. Every time someone comes to me who’s just gotten laid off, the first thing I say is “update your LinkedIn account, make sure you’ve got a professional picture, and start looking on there for what companies are hiring.” There’s news on there also, about companies that doesn’t always get to you via Facebook. So if I see that — hypothetically — HP lays off all their account managers and I’m hiring an account manager, by God I’ll be out there looking for some HP account managers.

If you’re interested in a certain company, go to their LinkedIn account, find out what they’re doing right now. Do they have any jobs posted? With LinkedIn, you can do your own research on companies.

Follow Elise on Twitter: @elisewillrikard | Instagram: @elisewillrikard

Last modified on November 18th, 2019

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