If you were a small business owner and someone offered you a free billboard on the freeway, you’d take it in a heartbeat, right? Free advertising in a high traffic area! That’s a no-brainer – of course you’d want that.
And that, friends, is pretty much exactly what LinkedIn is: a free billboard for YOU.
Recruiters from tech companies are on LinkedIn all the time, plugging in keywords, looking for leads. The search interface makes sourcing on LinkedIn easy for them, so of course they use it. They’re looking for you! They want to give you a job!
So it just makes sense that you, whether you’re an active or passive job seeker, should also be on LinkedIn. Building your profile up into your own personal billboard makes it easy for all those searching recruiters to find you! It’s a hugely valuable tool that makes you visible and accessible to employers who are actively seeking candidates with the skill set that you have.
Fixing your LinkedIn profile can take a little bit of time, depending on how empty or out of date it is, but it’s totally worth it to spend some quality time putting it together. If you’re actively looking for new programming jobs or maybe just open to considering new options, LinkedIn is going to help you out.
Connie Kehn, Lead Talent Engineer at CodeFights, sees a lot of LinkedIn profiles while she’s working with engineers who are using CodeFights to find new jobs. And she used to be a recruiter for Tesla, so she knows what people on the other end of the equation are looking for too! She says, “Take advantage of your LinkedIn. It’s a free billboard space for you to talk about your strengths, your history, your skills, and what kind of work you’re looking for. Recruiters use that! When you’re on the hunt, build it up. You can always take it down later.”
So without further ado, here are CodeFights’ top 10 tips for making your LinkedIn work for you!
- Fill out the entire profile. If you leave sections of your LinkedIn profile blank, not only are you missing out on opportunities to tell recruiters who you are and showcase what you’ve done, but you also might be hidden in searches. The LinkedIn platform actually prioritizes complete profiles! So if you’re not filling it out, your profile might not be surfacing in recruiters’ searches.
- Stand out with a good headline. Since this is one of the first things someone looking at your LinkedIn profile will see, make it count! Your headline should be descriptive and highlight your interests or specializations. Think specific, not general. And while you can get a little creative if you want to, don’t go overboard. The recruiter needs to be able to quickly decide whether or not you fit the bill. So a headline like Experienced Scala Wrangler Seeking New Pastures is eye-catching but still descriptive, while one like Programming Mermaid doesn’t really give a recruiter much of a sense of what you do.
- Sum yourself up. Your summary should be 40 words or more in order to rank in searches, but don’t go overboard in the other direction either! If your summary is too long, pertinent information might get lost as recruiters skim through. Write in the first person about yourself (“I’m a web developer” vs “Janet is a web developer”), and keep your language natural! Use the old writing adage of “show, don’t tell.” Instead of saying that you’re enthusiastic about Python, be specific: “I taught myself Python two years ago and have been using it whenever possible ever since.”
- Add keywords. Whether recruiters are doing searches or already looking at your profile, they’re looking for certain, specific things. You can think of these as your own personal search keywords, and you should make sure that you’ve got these keywords in your Summary, Skills, Experience, Projects, and Recommendations sections. Obviously you don’t want to misrepresent yourself or try to do some keyword-stuffing that looks unnatural. But you do want to make sure that you’re showing up in the right searches! So if you’re looking for a job as a Rails developer but you don’t list Ruby or Rails anywhere in your profile, you may as well not be looking for a Rails dev job at all.
- Show off your work. Since you’re a smart engineer you will, of course, be adding a link to your GitHub from your LinkedIn (quite possibly in the Summary section). But remember, recruiters are skimming, and you want to make it easy for them to see what you’ve been working on! Add information about projects that you’ve done in – what else? – the Projects section. Make sure to include relevant details like languages, frameworks, and whether it was a solo project or something you worked on with other people. This is an easy way for the recruiter to get a better feel for your work. Not to mention all those keywords that you’re adding to the descriptions boost your chances of showing up in the right recruiter’s search!
- Show off your education! Remember how we said to fill out your entire profile? Yeah, that goes double for the Education section. Maybe you didn’t go to school for computer science or a related field. Or maybe you didn’t go to school at all. Not a problem! Chances are good that you’ve got some relevant coursework, certifications, or seminars under your belt that you could add to your profile. Recruiters like to see this because it’s a little confirmation for them that you’re qualified and competent enough to do the programming jobs they’re working on filling.
- Hide the competition. You know that sidebar on the right side of your LinkedIn profile that says “People also viewed” and has a list of other people? You’re going to want to hide that. Go to Settings, then Privacy, and change this to “No”. Because those other people that LinkedIn users are also looking at probably look a lot like you in terms of work or educational history and/or skills, meaning they show up in the same searches… meaning they’re the competition.
- Get endorsements. While you’re busy adding your own personal keywords to your Skills section, ask coworkers, classmates, clients, or acquaintances who are familiar with your work to endorse you for those skills. While this actually won’t rank you any higher in searches, it does give the recruiter who’s looking at your profile some very positive cues: Not only do you say that you know Sass, Emily who you worked with at your last company says you know Sass too!
- Optional: Get recommendations. On a related note, it looks really good when you have recommendations from supervisors, clients, or teachers, especially if they reference specific projects you’ve worked on or things you’re really good at.
- Order your sections. By now, you’ve probably noticed that you can move the sections of your profile around. Use this to your advantage! If you just got out of school or you’re switching careers and you don’t have much work experience yet, move your Education and Projects sections up to the top. Been in the tech industry for ages? Keep your Experience section at the top.
- Personalize your URL. Which URL would you rather have a recruiter send to a hiring manager: linkedin.com/in/joe-cool-20a70070 or linkedin.com/in/josephcool? While this isn’t a make-or-break situation, having a good personal URL can give your profile an extra layer of professionalism and help build your personal brand.
Bonus: Don’t leave your LinkedIn profile picture blank! Recruiters respond to photos because it helps them create a more complete picture of a candidate in their minds. You don’t have to go get professional headshots unless you want to, but you should make sure that the photo is clear, well-lit, and work-appropriate (no bar-hopping pictures, please). And while you’re at it, add a banner picture too! It makes your profile look more professional, more complete, and more you. After all, what’s a billboard without an eye-catching image?
Doable, right? And once you’ve got your LinkedIn profile fully set up, it’s just a matter of upkeep: adding new jobs, certifications, and skills as you get them. Whether you’re actively looking for new tech jobs or just interested in seeing what comes your way, your personal LinkedIn billboard is a sure-fire way to make sure that recruiters see you for the talented, savvy programmer that you are.
On the job hunt? Read these articles too:
Resumes. Not fun, right? But they’re a necessary part of the job search process a lot of the time. Read Make Your Engineering Resume Stand Out to find out how to write a resume that really highlights your programming skills and experiences and makes you stand out from the crowd of applicants.
Once you’re on a company’s radar, there’s still a few steps before you make it to the in-person technical interview! First, you’re going to have to get past the recruiter phone screen. Read Ace Your Phone Screen By Telling Your Story, Pt. 1 to learn how to craft a personal elevator pitch that will resonate with recruiters. Then check out Ace Your Phone Screen By Telling Your Story, Pt. 2 for tips on how to wow the recruiter during the phone screen itself.
Have you ever found a job opportunity through LinkedIn? Have any great tips for making your LinkedIn profile stand out from other engineers’ profiles? Let us know on the forum!