Right now, I am in the middle of a job search. If you ask me, it’s never a fun thing to do. Prior to this, I was lucky enough either to run my own company, or get referred for a job by some of the people who were familiar with my work. Social media exposure helped in this regard. However, I decided to move to the US for grad school. Being fresh off the boat meant new challenges when it came to my professional career. Finding a job turned out to be a whole new ball game.

Starting from scratch

What was my biggest strength is now my shortcoming. Though I knew some people here in SF before, and met more of them at school, my social circle is still significantly smaller than back at home.

LinkedIn Map
for my profile

I had to do something to increase my visibility to recruiters. Blogging is a good way, but LinkedIn is where you are more likely to find them.

How does LinkedIn search work?

In essence, LinkedIn’s search engine is not much different than Google’s. Each profile has a certain number of keywords that count. Same as with web pages, some of them are more relevant than others, and, if we decipher the way it works, we might be able to make our profile more visible. Luckily, this is not as complex as SEO, nor will you need money to buy backlinks on Chinese university websites. A couple of basic principles will do the deal.

Three steps to getting a job

Three degrees of separation in the example of Marrisa Mayer and me

Some of you might not know that LinkedIn used the Six Degrees of Separation theory to model its graph. Instead of six, it features three levels of connections. The picture on the left depicts the degrees of separation between Marissa and me.

LinkedIn search engine (sometimes called Relevance) heavily relies on this principle. Search results are not the same for each and every person, but tailored according to your network. Thus, the more people you have in it, the greater are chances you will be found.

Ranking criteria

The most important thing when it comes to ranking is having a 100% completed profile. Without it, the chances that no one will see your profile are pretty high. Wake up! The period when you are looking for a job is probably the worst one for you to be lazy. Upload that pretty photo, add your education and work experience and you are ready. The following list taken from Sirona blog thoroughly explains why this is important and what else you need to do to appear high in the search results:

  1. 1st degree contacts that are 100% complete or nearest to it, have the most in-common connections and shared groups, and ranked in descending order
  2. 1st degree contacts, that are 100% complete or nearest to it, and ranked in descending order
  3. 2nd degree contacts, that are 100% complete or nearest to it, and ranked in descending order
  4. 3rd degree contacts, that are 100% complete or nearest to it, and ranked in descending order
  5. Shared group contacts that are otherwise unconnected to you, from 100% complete or nearest to it, and ranked in descending order
  6. Everyone else with high profile completeness
  7. Everyone else who have low profile completeness.

It is easy to conclude you should not be very humble when it comes to your LinkedIn profile. Add as much information as you have about your career, and remember all of those high school friends you haven’t called in a while. At the same time, use the opportunity to join up to 50 professional groups as they directly influence the size of your network. If you have already reached that limit, leave the ones which are less important and join those with more members. It is proven that weak ties are much more useful for a job search than your close friends. Hope it is now easier for you to understand why.

Recruiter engine optimization

What about keywords?

Now when you know how ranking works, we need to proceed to the next phase - keyword optimization. A simple rule of thumb says - think the way recruiters think. Try to step into their shoes and figure out the queries they are typing while looking for you.

For example, my headline stated the categories I am interested in — Digital Marketing, User Experience, Growth Hacking. What are the odds that some recruiter would actually type Growth Hacking? Instead, if you put a name of the job position you are interested in, and the odds are becoming much bigger.

How many times section can be found in the lower right

Another great thing about LinkedIn is that it offers free analytics. While checking who viewed your profile, in the lower right corner you will find the section from the picture on the left. As you can see, most of the people who found me looked for my name or a company I worked for. None of them were looking for a particular position. Yet another sign I had to change the content on my profile.

Which sections are more important than others?

I mentioned headline in the previous example. Obviously it is one of the most important parts of your profile. The content in your headline is crawled and will appear in the search results. Moreover, same as with the description on Google - the more appealing it is, the greater are chances for people to click. Make it sexy!

Apart from headline, keywords are very important in company name, job title and skills (endorsments) as they rank higher in the search results than other sections. Summary and job description go right after these.

How to choose the right keywords

This is where our friend Google comes to help. Another example. Back in 2008, I worked at Furka.com as a web manager. When you look at my job description you will figure out that what I did back then was very similar to what product managers do nowadays. With a little help from Google and Jobvite, you’ll see the demand for product managers is much bigger, giving you more chances to be found. Moreover, there are some differences between Europe and the US and you need to take them into consideration when updating your LinkedIn profile.

Synonyms might help as well. If you are into digital marketing, chances are you will be able to do user acquisition as well. Beef up your job descriptions by adding each and every activity you did. This article might help with choosing the right words.

The game of trial end error

For me personally, digital marketing is a game of trial and error. It’s no different here. If no one is looking at your profile, you have nothing to lose. Play with different headlines, positions and job descriptions to see what is delivering the best results. As mentioned, there is a simple analytics tool to help you see if you are on a good track. Hopefully, you won’t need much time to find a working formula. Good luck with that!


And yes, feel free to connect with me. Regardless of your job situation, the size of our network is important, this is the easiest way to do something about it.