The Top 10 LinkedIn Profile Fields

This morning, I got some compelling insight into the best LinkedIn profiles for job seekers. If you’re in a job search, this matters big time so keep reading!

LinkedIn Increases the Number of Search Results

Tony Restell, who runs the social media marketing agency, Social-Hire, asked this question on LinkedIn:

“So LinkedIn has just increased the maximum search results from showing 1,000 people to now showing 2,500 people. I wonder how many users actually need that…would you use this if you had it on your account?”

Sanjay Sodhi, a staffing industry researcher and candidate sourcer, replied:

“Hopefully, this becomes an option on the Recruiter side, too.

It’d give us 2.5X the sample size for running search insights and a bit more wiggle room for 1-shot search market mapping.

Can’t imagine why Recruiter users wouldn’t want to be able to operate on more search results at once.”

Then, Tony asked Sanjay for more information:

“That’s an interesting observation Sanjay.

I would’ve assumed that by the time you get to the 1,000th result, the people appearing in searches would diverge too much from the search criteria specified to be a strong enough match to pursue.”

How Recruiters Really Search

And then, Sanjay shared this golden insight into how recruiters use LinkedIn to develop their target candidate lists:

“So, the thing is that we don’t really go that far down the rabbit hole for a specific search.

It’s more on the background research and market mapping where you’re casting a **very** wide net and tagging/classifying profiles as you go.

By the tail end, you’re moving at a very quick pace and classifying off the profile summary [my emphasis] rather than clicking through…you want to be selecting the full page of 25 profiles and operating on all of them (likely to classify them out) and only stopping for exceptions.”

What Recruiters See 1st from Your LinkedIn Profile

So, I got curious.

I asked Sanjay:

Sanjay, Would you please clarify for readers exactly which elements of their profile you see in the “summary” you mentioned?

Much appreciated!

Thank you, Donna

I didn’t know if Sanjay had referred to the summary section of the LinkedIn profile (now called “About”) or if he was talking about a profile summary that LinkedIn shows to people using their Recruiter product.

Sanjay was kind enough to send me this screenshot of what he sees in Recruiter when LinkedIn serves him my profile as a search result:

LinkedIn Recruiter Screenshot
The Best Job Seeker LinkedIn Profiles for Recruiter Users

As you can observe, recruiters get a snapshot of your profile.

Also, as you learned from Sanjay’s comment, and as I know from my executive search experience, they don’t always look at your full profile.

Thus, you have to optimize the 10 fields of your profile that display in the Recruiter screenshot:

1. Your Profile Picture

I’ve written a lot about LinkedIn profile photos.

In looking at the screenshot above, you can see how much they matter to Recruiter users. They’re the 1st thing they see and, eye-tracking research from the Ladders has shown, the 1st place their eyes go.

So, click to get the lowdown on optimizing your profile picture. The best LinkedIn profiles ace the photo.

2. Your Name

I’ve also written a lot about LinkedIn names.

Beyond being the 2nd thing Recruiter users see about you, the Name fields are more important than you might realize:

  1. First, be sure to use your full name and any previous name people might use to find you.
  2. Second, if you have relevant credentials, add the best one or two to your last name. You’ll see why this matters towards the end of this post.
3. Connection Level

Following your name, LinkedIn tells recruiters if you’re connected to them or not.

As you can see, Sanjay and I are 1st-level connections. Thus, I’m more likely to get outreach from him.

Because of this, connect with your target recruiters whenever you can.

4. LinkedIn Premium Membership

Next, recruiters immediately see if you’re a LinkedIn Premium member or not. If you’re a member, it’s free for recruiters to contact you.

If you’re not, they have to spend InMail credits or dig around your profile looking for your contact information.

The best LinkedIn profiles make recruiter contact easy and free.

5. LinkedIn Headline

Scanning on, recruiters see your LinkedIn headline. To get their attention, be sure to feature the “money” keywords for your target job.

Then, if you can, add a brief accomplishment statement.

Here’s an example: “Double-Digit Sales Growth.”

In this use case (job seekers optimizing their profiles for Recruiter users), your money keywords and a “wow” accomplishment comprise the professional brand you want to convey — because they’re what recruiters care about.

Finally, notice that my headline above has been cut-off at about 70 characters.

Because of that, be sure to put your most important keywords in the first 70 characters of your headline. Otherwise, the LinkedIn algorithm will see them, but the people who decide to progress your candidacy might not.

6. Location

Following your headline, recruiters see your location. Make sure it’s your desired location, and keep it broad to avoid being eliminated. Don’t say Tacoma if you would take a job 60 miles north in Everett. Say “Greater Seattle Area.”

7. Industry

Next, recruiters see your industry. Make sure this is your aspirational industry, which might or might not be your current vertical. If you work in real estate but want to move to construction, say “Construction,” not “Real Estate.”

To update your industry:

  1. Go to your profile.
  2. Click the editing pencil to the right of your profile photo.
  3. Scroll down to “Industry.”
  4. Drop the menu and select your aspirational industry or functional area. 

As you’ll find, LinkedIn’s industry list leaves much to be desired. It gives you a mix of industries and functional areas that don’t accurately reflect our world.

If you can’t find your 1st choice, ask yourself which of the classifications on the list your target recruiters would be most likely to search for and go with it.

8. Experience Section

Moving on, your work experience is the next set of information recruiters see.

However, they only see your:

  1. Employers’ names
  2. Job titles
  3. Employment dates

Because of that, check your job titles for critically important keywords.

For example, your job title might be “Director of Finance, Germany.”

If you’re looking for a Division CFO role, add this parenthetical title after your official title (Country CFO).

Now the recruiter understands you have CFO-level responsibility.

9. Education

Next, LinkedIn tells the recruiter where you went to school — not your degree, just your school.

Thus, if your degree is relevant, be sure to search your university’s LinkedIn company pages to see if you can find your specific school or college.

As you can see below, “Case Western Reserve University Master of Engineering & Management” packs a much bigger punch with recruiters than “Case Western Reserve University.”

It gives them useful information about what your degree might be.

LinkedIn Education

Another way to help recruiters fill in the blanks about your education, as noted above, is to share one or two credentials following your last name.

BTW, you can see a comprehensive guide to writing your resume’s education section here. Much of it is also applicable to your LinkedIn profile.

10. Shared Connections

Finally, you can see that LinkedIn tells recruiters how many connections you share with them.

Thus, always be building your network. It might give you a boost with a recruiter if they can reach out to a shared connection to learn more about you.

This post tells you how to build 2nd-level LinkedIn connections

What’s Missing?

Now, let’s look at which profile sections recruiters have to click all the way through to your profile to see:

  1. Contact Information
  2. Number of Connections
  3. About section
  4. Articles & Activity section
  5. Detailed job descriptions
  6. Degrees
  7. Licenses & Certifications
  8. Volunteer experience
  9. Skills section
  10. LinkedIn Recommendations
  11. Accomplishments
  12. Interests
The Best LinkedIn Profiles

While many of those “missing” sections figure into the algorithm and help drive your LinkedIn SEO, a great LinkedIn profile will always optimize the information that recruiters see first!


Please invite me to connect on LinkedIn. The more I know about my readers, the more relevant I can make my blog.

Featured by: 3Plus International
Image: deagreez
Updated March 2021

© 2019 – 2021, Donna Svei. All rights reserved.