Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 23rd 2014 Contents B21
Tuesday, December 23, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
If you're using LinkedIn only to provide some
history on your qualifications and to seek out job
listings, you're missing a great opportunity to
assess (and leverage) your competitive edge.
There's never been a time like this in the history
of job search, where nearly every candidate has
publically qualified themselves, with promotions,
degrees, and job titles all laid out online for the
world to see on LinkedIn.
By tapping this wealth of information, you can
assess your marketability, improve your ranking
in LinkedIn search, and find out about new trends
in your field.
5 Steps to Leveraging the LinkedIn Profiles of
Your Job-Hunting Competitors
Here are key steps to finding and capitalizing
on the LinkedIn Profiles of your job-hunting com-
1. Use the Advanced People Search function
to find competitors.
Click on the "Advanced" link next to the search
bar at the top of the page and navigate to the
"People" search if LinkedIn doesn't show it to you
automatically. Here, you'll see Advanced People
Search parameters (that differ slightly, depending
on your account type).
While you can search for competing candidates
in many ways, such as their alma mater or whether
they work for a Fortune-ranked company, the
"Keywords" search field will often work to pull in
the closest matches. Start by adding a string of
terms related to your target job (examples would
be "SVP Sales" or "IT Infrastructure Director")
in the "Keywords" field.
For best results, add the zip code of the area
you're targeting, as this will show you how employ-
ers will look for local candidates. Check the "Rela-
tionship: All" box (or select all the options LinkedIn
makes available) to include all contacts, no matter
their relationship to you.
2. Analyze the Profiles in your search results.
After looking over the list of candidates from
your search, delve into some of the top Profiles
to see how they are constructed in comparison to
• What trends do you notice in your industry
when looking at these Profiles?
• Are other Profiles more fully written, with a
more complete Summary and Experience history
than your Profile?
• Do the other candidates go back farther in their
• Have other candidates included specifics of
• Is the Skills & Endorsements section fully used with nearly
50 entries and Endorsements?
Like you, recruiters will be quickly scanning these Profiles
to look for key skills and descriptions of achievements. If
your Profile seems to fall short in detail, you'll benefit from
a fast makeover and additional detail on your success sto-
3. Rank your marketability against other candidates.
One thing you'll quickly realize when sizing up your com-
petition is where you rank -- in terms of skills, education,
career trajectory, and years of experience.
This is particularly important intelligence to use in your
job search if you believe you're striking out with employers.
Perhaps you're not quite a7t the rank of SVP yet, and a
quick look at the competition tells you that you'll need a
few more years in the industry. You might also realize that
you're aiming too low, and that you're overqualified for the
roles you've pursued.
4. Improve your keyword strategy.
If you can find these Profiles, so can employers! Now's
the time to figure out why they're popping up in your search
results -- and if their Profiles contain keyword content valuable
Professional Headlines: Look first at the Headline used by
your competitors. This is the strongest field in terms of
search optimization (next to the Name) on LinkedIn. How
does your Headline rate in comparison? If you're not using
hot terms in your field ("VP Operations | 25% to 48% Pro-
duction Quality Improvement From Lean Six Sigma & 5S |
Outsourced Manufacturing Efficiency"), your Profile might
not register in the top results from a recruiter's search.
Job Titles: Job Titles are also heavily weighted within
LinkedIn's indexing scheme. While you shouldn't change
your title on LinkedIn, you can add specific skills to this
field (Project Manager -- Global Program Management) to
aid in better keyword strategy.
Summary and Experience: Pull some of the better Summary
and Experience sections into a Wordle.net (or TagCrowd.com)
application. Then do the same with your own LinkedIn sec-
tions, and make note of areas in which your Profile may be
lacking or using different terminology.
Skills & Endorsements: Look closely at the Skills & Endorse-
ments sections of the Profiles in your search. Adding more
terms in this section and gathering dozens of Endorsements
(thought to rank in the indexing strategy) will help increase
Again, take the time to compare your own Profile keywords,
even with a brief glance to gauge how effectively you have
used this section.
5. Find a (more) ideal job target.
Your search may turn up some intriguing clues to your
ideal career path, especially if you see that other professionals
in your target position have a job description that fits your
You might also find that the past work experience or
degrees of your competitors will spark some ideas for pursuing
slightly different positions. Candidates with a Psychology
degree, for example, are often sought for sales and marketing
roles, while IT leadership positions are sometimes gained
through years of industry or domain experience.
Make note of job titles and descriptions that interest you
as possibilities for your own search. If these professionals
are already working in your dream job, then your dream job
does exist, and there are employers looking to hire someone
like you for it.
The Bottom Line
Analyzing the LinkedIn Profiles of your job-hunting com-
petition can provide you with a few surprises -- as well as
clues to the effectiveness of your own Profile. Don't just
read these Profiles; put what you find into an actionable
plan for your own job search, whether it's adjusting your
expectations or realizing how many other roles you can pur-
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