Illustration of the LinkedIn algorithm on a monitor.

How the LinkedIn algorithm works for job seekers

Did you know that you can manipulate the LinkedIn algorithm to show your profile to more recruiters and hiring managers? Pretty handy, right? If you’re actively hunting for a job then you’ll want to follow these steps to make sure you’re maximizing your visibility to the right people on the social network.

These tactics are simple and straightforward. Let’s get to it!

 

Profile optimization

Before doing anything else on this social network, you need to optimize your profile. This will improve your LinkedIn score with an all-star profile rating, which amplifies all of your other activities on the platform by a factor of 10.

It’s not just an assumption, either. LinkedIn’s own engineering team has stated that it uses all of these elements to make candidate recommendations to recruiters.

“In Recruiter Search, to assist our users with query formulation, we also suggest related entities that the user might be interested in, e.g., recommending titles like “Data Scientist” and skills like “Data Mining” to recruiters searching for the title “Machine Learning Engineer.” With a given query, our goal is to determine a ranked list of the most relevant candidates in real time among hundreds of millions of semi-structured candidate profiles.”

– Qi Guo, LinkedIn Engineering Blog

 

Screenshot of how profile factors affect profile visibility in recruiter searches on LinkedIn.

 

Make sure you follow this LinkedIn profile checklist to get the all-star profile you need.

  1. Upload a clear, professional headshot.
  2. Quantify your work history and add media elements to each position on your profile.
  3. Ask for written endorsements from your coworkers, managers, and old bosses.
  4. List your top 10 skills and ask people to endorse them.
  5. Write the best LinkedIn headline for hiring managers and recruiters.
  6. Fill out your education, licenses, and credentials—even the free, entry-level ones.
  7. Add your interests and follow industry thought leaders.
  8. Add your volunteer experience (even from college or highschool!)

It’ll take a day or two, but this is absolutely worth your time to play the LinkedIn algorithm this way. Having a proper headshot alone can improve the odds of hiring managers clicking on your profile by as much as 2,100%. You also need to impress them after they click, which is why optimizing your profile is so important.

Do not skip this step.

 

 

Verify you are open to contact with recruiters

There’s a little box you can tick on your profile that asks if you are open to being contacted to recruiters on LinkedIn. Make sure that box is checked at all times without exception.

 

Screenshot of "open to recruiters" setting on a LinkedIn profile.

 

Why?

That little box determines if recruiters can even get in touch with you. It’s an open line for them to ask you about opportunities without you ever having to lift a finger. Obviously this is something that active job seekers would be foolish to pass up, making it one of the more important best practices to follow on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn’s own engineering team has stated that a job seeker’s profile needs to be open to communication in order to have a better chance of showing up in search results:

“In other words, we require not just that a candidate shown must be relevant to the recruiter’s query, but also that the candidate contacted by the recruiter must show interest in the job opportunity.”

– Qi Guo, LinkedIn Engineering Blog

 

How often you comment on posts

Having more connections is one way to increase the number of potential eyeballs on your profile, but very few of them will actually get the chance unless you engage in some activity.

How do you “engage” on LinkedIn? Commenting is the quickest and easiest way to do it (we’ll get to posting later). The reason is that you can trigger a large increase in profile views for a few very low-effort actions, which makes it a natural part of making the LinkedIn algorithm work in your favor.

It works, too. I boosted views on my own profile by 250% just by making 2-3 comments in a single week. Nothing deep, either: just giving a kudos here or offering a quick insight there. It’s one of the best ways to improve your LinkedIn impressions with little effort.

 

Screenshot showing a 250% boost in weekly LinkedIn profile views.

 

This is how you build momentum with the LinkedIn algorithm as a job seeker. Making time to comment just once every day or two puts your name in front of dozens of extra people. It works even better as you add connections to your network, too. You might only get a few extra views per week when you have 40 connections—but that can become dozens more per week when your network reaches 300-400 people over the first few years of your career.

And that’s just from a few short comments. It’s seconds of “work” per week, so why not do it?

 

 

Your interests affect what you see

It’s also worth noting that your interests, your industry, your role, and the content with which you engage will influence what shows up in your own newsfeed. Some of it is obvious, like your work history and your LinkedIn headline.

Some factors are less obvious, though. Just read what the network’s own engineers have to say about it.

“We already have a strong set of explicit and implicit signals that provide context on what content a member may find interesting based on their social connections and the Knowledge Graph (e.g., a company that they follow or news widely shared within their company). To augment these existing signals, we are creating an interest graph that represents relationships between members and a taxonomy of topics. This graph allows us to measure member-to-topic affinity (e.g. how interested are you about scuba diving?), topic-to-topic relatedness (e.g. snorkling is related to scuba diving), as well as which of your connections share your interests.”

Tim Jurka on the LinkedIn Engineering Blog

This means that your actions and your interests will dictate what crosses your digital field of vision. With that in mind it’s worth mentioning that you should add interests to your LinkedIn profile when they’re relevant to the industry or the role you want to find.

Why?

Every relevant piece post, news item, or comment is an opportunity for you to join the conversation and build your personal brand, brick by brick. Calibrating your interests will tell the LinkedIn algorithm to send more relevant things your way, making your activities lead to better networking opportunities in the long run.

 

Making your own posts works wonders

Once you’re comfortable sharing your thoughts and opinions without others in the form of regular comments, you can earn even more visibility by creating your own posts.

Don’t fall into the trap of posting every day, even if some self-proclaimed LinkedIn consultant tells you to do it. There are plenty of salespeople and wannabe influencers that do this, and it’s annoying. I’ve unfollowed them because they just contribute to the white noise in my newsfeed.

Look at this person’s track record of daily posts, for example. Do they add any real value? No—he’s just posting every day in order to game the LinkedIn algorithm for his personal brand.

 

Screenshot of a low-value, self-promoting connection on LinkedIn.

 

The posts of the anonymous marketer pictured above are examples of how to get short-term visibility, but it comes at a cost. People will eventually unfollow connections who do this because they get tired of having to read these low-value, borderline-spam posts.

 

 

Instead, focus on sharing quality insights on a semi-regular basis. How do you do that?

  • Promote some content you’ve written in your industry lately if you’re proud of it.
  • Share something awesome that one of your connections made, with commentary.
  • Ask a real question that you want answered.
  • Talk about your experience with a platform you’ve started using.

The point is to keep your own posts authentic, relevant, and valuable for your connections. The moment you start posting for its own sake is the moment people will start tuning out.

Engagement governs the success of your posts, so you’d think you’ll earn more views with more posts—except that LinkedIn isn’t like Twitter or Facebook. Posts don’t disappear into the void after a few hours or a single day. Posts on LinkedIn stay in the ecosystem for about a week, so you don’t want to produce more than 1-2 posts per week (and 1 is plenty).

P.S. Your posts will live or die based on early engagement. Getting likes and comments on your post in the first few hours will tell LinkedIn to show the post to more people. The algorithm tests out posts to see if they’re worth spreading to the wider network first, so get a few of your friends to engage with your post to boost your reach.

 

That’s the secret sauce to the LinkedIn algorithm—plus what you can do about it as a job seeker. Follow these steps and you’ll be in much better shape than before.

Happy hunting!

Andrew Webb

Andrew Webb

Founder of the Employed Historian, Andrew entered the working world with two history degrees and zero technical knowledge. Then he worked on those technical skills and discovered something profound about the liberal arts. By day he's a professional search engine optimization specialist and content marketer at Webb Content.

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