Over ninety percent of recruiters search the LinkedIn member database to find candidates who have the specific set of qualifications and/or keywords in their Profile. After searching the database, recruiters get served with "search results" that include a Profile view for each candidate who meets the search criteria.
To be successful, you want your Profile to consistently appear in search results for candidates with your set of qualifications, ideally higher in those results than competing candidates. Being visible in search results and ranking well in them is often called LinkedIn SEO (search engine optimization).
When your Profile is visible in search results, you want to stand out from the other candidates and capture the interest of the recruiters so they click on your Profile, even when you are not actively searching for a new job.
In addition to job offers, other common reasons to be easily found on LinkedIn are to be visible to new potential clients and members of your network as well as to old friends and colleagues
These are LinkedIn's reasons for existing, a giant online rolodex on steriods. LinkedIn's primary revenue stream is LinkedIn Recruiter, the service used by recruiters access to LinkedIn's 500+ million member database. If your Profile cannot be found on LinkedIn, you have a serious problem, unless your career requires invisiblity (spy?).
To better understand how recruiters search LinkedIn, think about how you search an online job board for job postings. You go to a website (CareerBuilder, Indeed, etc.), and enter a series of keywords (typically job title and location). You may also click on an industry or job function from a drop down box. Then, you then get presented with a series of job listings.
Do you click on all of the search results? Probably not. Instead, you only click on those that catch your eye and are most relevant, typically the listings on the first page, often among the top 5. Few pay any attention to the results on the second page, and most don't consider looking at the entries on pages 3, 4, etc. So, being on the first page of search results is very important.
Recruiters search for and choose job candidates in a very similar way. Using LinkedIn Recruiter, they search through LinkedIn Profiles. Usually, they start with Skill categories (which is why your Skills & Endorsements are so important!). Then, they type their keywords (like a job title) into a search box, possibly clicking on some options like industry, location, or other criteria.
They scan the search results, and click on those entries that are most appealing and relevant to the jobs they are filling.
After more reviews and, usually, a Google search on the names of promising candidates, they reach out to the candidates to begin the hiring process. [Read Managing Your Google Resume for more on how to succeed in this part of the process.]
Typically, like everyone who does an online search, recruiters pay the closest attention to the first page of search results, with less attention paid to the second and subsequent pages. Your appearance on the first few pages of results is very important to your visibility to recruiters.
More on how sourcing works: Get "Sourced" to Get Hired and How to Find Jobs Working With Recruiters, Head Hunters, and Staffing Firms.
Recruiters have several options for searching inside LinkedIn. They can use Google to "x-ray" LinkedIn, do a "People" search like the rest of us, or pay LinkedIn to use the LinkedIn Recruiter service.
You need your name and your LinkedIn Profile to appear high up in the search results on LinkedIn when a recruiter does one of these typical searches:
If an entry for you doesn't appear on the first page (preferably) or the first two or three pages of search results, you are invisible because, typically, few people look past the first page.
LinkedIn is the website used most often by recruiters and employers to find candidates for their jobs. Using LinkedIn SEO is essential today for being found and having credibility with recruiters.
Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a recent Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.