Software engineering is constantly evolving with the introduction, adoption and deployment of new technologies. Recruiters should be constantly analysing these trends to ensure they can adapt their sourcing strategies and approach engineers for opportunities with a relevant skill-set.
In the same way that engineers optimise their code to release better products, optimising a LinkedIn profile can improve the relevance of approaches from recruiters on LinkedIn. The information on a LinkedIn profile can be the difference between your profile showing at the top of a search, or not appearing at all.
In this article, I share my advice on how a Software Engineer can optimise their LinkedIn profile to increase the relevance of approaches from recruiters, talent acquisition and engineering hiring managers.
1. Share what type of engineer you are
First and foremost, elaborate on your position title to share what type of development you’re specialising in today.
You can do this by sharing whether you’re a Frontend, Backend, Full Stack, Mobile, QA or support engineer.
For example, if your title is Senior Software Engineer, but you focus on the Backend, you could write your title as “Senior Software Engineer, Backend”, “Senior Software Engineer (Backend)” or “Senior Backend Engineer”.
The example above is what would display in a recruiter’s search for a backend engineer on LinkedIn, with ‘Backend’ selected as a keyword in the filter.
By just sharing “Senior Software Engineer”, although it might be your official title, your profile might not appear in certain search results and a recruiter may be unsure of what capacity you’re working in today.
2. Add your Tech Stack to your LinkedIn summary and individual work experiences
In addition to expanding on what capacity you’re working in today, in your LinkedIn summary and in your role summaries, you can break down your tech stack.
If a recruiter is performing a search on LinkedIn, they can use the keyword search filter and it will highlight the technologies they are looking for on profiles. This will also help the recruiter understand if your experience aligns well with the role they’re recruiting for.
Break down your stack into a simple one liner, or you may want to break down your stack into frontend and backend technologies.
See the example a Full Stack Engineer may use for their LinkedIn summary:
To improve on this, you can take it a step further and write the number of years of experience you have next to each Technology, so the recruiter can see if you have the right level of experience, or if your experience is more on an intermediary part-time or hobby basis.
See the example below:
This shows a recruiter that the engineer may be a great fit for a senior engineer role on their frontend team using ReactJS but that they might not be the right fit for a senior engineer role on their backend team using NodeJS.
Avoid cluttering your profile with too many technologies that you don’t have much experience in, as often it can be difficult to read and you may receive irrelevant approaches from recruiters.
My advice would be to add an overview of your stack experience to your LinkedIn summary outlining the technologies you’re most experienced in and add an individual stack summary for each position you have undertaken in the past.
3. Share more about the team you’re working in
If you’re working for a large organisation, there might be over 50 backend engineers on the team working in polar opposite areas of the product.
For example, if you work for foodpanda, it might be difficult for a recruiter to determine what team you’re working with. If you work for the backend team with a focus on payments, share this on your LinkedIn profile. Other companies who are looking for payments engineers, either in similar industries or within FinTech, will see this on your profile and might think you’re the perfect fit for a new Engineering Lead role that just came up in their organisation.
By sharing more about the team you’re working in, the keywords will appear in more recruiter searches. If you’re in a team that is very relevant to the role the recruiter is hiring for, they’ll try extra hard to headhunt you!
You can also share your career achievements within this team such as increasing the amount of traffic flowing through a payment system that you built from scratch.
4. Utilise the LinkedIn skills section, request endorsements and take assessments to verify your experience
The technology stack you have shared on your LinkedIn summary and experience summaries are searched by recruiters using the ‘Keywords’ filter.
In addition to this filter, recruiters also use the ‘Skills’ filter to find candidates. This is a separate search functionality and allows recruiters to find and see which candidates match the skill set they are searching for.
Fill in the skills section by highlighting your key technologies you have experience in. As mentioned previously, avoid cluttering your skills section with too many technologies as the more technologies you list, the harder it becomes for a recruiter to understand your specialties.
Two ways to verify the skills that you’ve highlighted is to complete LinkedIn assessments or to ask for endorsements from your peers.
LinkedIn skill assessments are displayed in more detail on the recruiter version of LinkedIn. The recruiter can see the assessment you took for a particular skill, the date you passed the assessment and sample questions in the test.
You can also ask your peers in your team to endorse your skills. This will push the most endorsed skills you have to the top of the list. The more endorsements you have, the more legitimate your experience looks to a recruiter.
5. Use a creative but effective headline
Your LinkedIn headline is the first piece of information that recruiters or anyone who views your profile will see after they look at your photo and name. This information is also picked up in ‘Keyword’ searches on LinkedIn.
A simple but effective formula you could use is: Title at Company | Keywords | Mission.
Using myself as an example, it would look something like this: Director at Vocay | Software Engineering search | Helping tech founders, hiring managers are recruiters hire exceptional engineers
Using an engineer as an example, it could look something like this: Senior Software Engineer, Mobile | Specialising in React Native | Building a cutting edge mobile app to serve users better.
The example above makes it incredibly easy for recruiters to understand what you’re doing today and if it matches the role they’re recruiting for, they’ll invest more time evaluating your profile.
6. Request recommendations and build your reputation
Recommendations are another great way to improve your credibility. Ask peers, previous managers, former subordinates and even founders to write recommendations for you.
If you’re an individual contributor, ask them to comment on your experience working with them and where you made a significant impact on the team or product. It would be even better if they could verify some of the technologies you worked together with.
If you’re a manager, ask them to comment on their experience being managed by you and how you helped them develop their engineering career.
This is an extremely powerful tool, as you’re leveraging other peoples reputations to boost yours. It’s often underutilised and only takes 2 minutes to ask for one.
I often look at recommendations when I’m sourcing candidates, especially if a profile lacks information, as it helps to understand more about the engineer and their focus at a particular time in their career.
7. Share your motivations, passions and career aspirations
Of course, word your motivations in a way that doesn’t alert your line manager!
By sharing your motivations, passions and future career aspirations, a recruiter can get a better understanding around what might be attractive to you in a move. In some cases, they may also overlook your experience if you’re missing 1 or 2 technologies from the JD they’re recruiting for, as long as they know you have an ambition to learn.
8. Upload an appropriate profile photo
A basic suggestion, but actually one of the most important!
A recruiter typically scans a LinkedIn profile from their search results in less than 5 seconds and in those 5 seconds, they make a decision about whether to open up your profile in more detail.
By uploading an appropriate profile photo, a recruiter might spend more time analysing your profile.
An appropriate photo would have the following qualities:
- Close-up – a close up photo either looking straight at the camera or angled works much better than a photo that’s so far out that you can’t see your face.
- High resolution – it’s 2021, even an iPhone camera will do!
- Appropriate background – plain backgrounds are always great such as white or grey. If you have some basic Photoshop skills, you can cut out the original background and replace it with a plain colour. You can also use more abstract backgrounds, like buildings, or trees, but for these ones, try to blur out the background so the focus stays on your face.
- Approachable demeanor – arguably the most important of all. A friendly smile goes a very long way!
According to Harvard University, uploading a profile picture also makes it 14x more likely for someone to click on your profile.
Go a step further and add a company branded cover photo or even a personal cover photo.
9. Link your personal website, social links and projects to your featured content section
Link your personal website if you have one, your social links such as your GitHub, Stack Overflow or even Twitter and some projects you’ve worked on outside of work.
Admittedly and sadly, not all recruiters will spend time researching your profile in this much detail, but the best ones will. They can use this information to make a better judgement on your experience and it will make for a more productive screening call.
Some people even add their CV to their profiles. This is helpful so recruiters can get a more detailed look at an engineers experience, but it’s really down to personal choice and whether you’d be comfortable enough to share your personal details.
If you follow the advice in this guide, you probably wouldn’t even need to attach one anyway!
Why should you optimise your LinkedIn profile?
By sharing more about your position, stack, team and skills, your profile will be pushed to the top of searches that recruiters are undertaking on LinkedIn on a daily basis.
Sure, you might be approached more than 10 times a week and more LinkedIn messages from recruiters probably isn’t what you want, but that one recruiter who analyses your profile correctly and approaches you for a really different but relevant role in a new industry you’ve been exploring, might just land you a great opportunity and a lucrative pay rise in the process!
Less experienced recruiters will also be able to use the information from your profile to breakdown your stack and will be able to ask more relevant questions throughout an introductory or screening interview which should create a more efficient but pleasant recruitment experience.
Do you need help optimising your LinkedIn profile or are you looking for a new opportunity?
I specialise in recruiting software engineers across all industries in Singapore and the wider Asia markets. If you’re looking for advice on your LinkedIn profile, or if you’re looking for a new role, please feel free to get in touch with me for a confidential chat by connecting with me on LinkedIn.
If you’re a client looking for exceptional engineers, please connect with me on LinkedIn or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and it would be great to discuss your needs.
The technology stack shared in examples in this article are for illustrative purposes only and are by no means representations of the real technology stacks used.