How Recruiters Use LinkedIn

For the past year I’ve had the opportunity to intern in the talent acquisition department at UPMC’s corporate office. While I’ve learned about a variety of recruiting techniques such as phone screening, interviewing, and candidate sourcing, I’ve gotten an in-depth view as to how recruiters use LinkedIn on a daily basis. In this class we have speculated as to how human resource departments view and potentially judge our social media profiles, and I’m going to give you an insiders perspective.

LinkedIn is most commonly used as a sourcing mechanism for hard-to-fill entry and senior level positions. This means that those applying for a position through the companies personal website aren’t qualified, or that too few individuals are applying, which is often common with senior level jobs. As a result, recruiters head to LinkedIn to find new talent.

Before discussing ways to make your profile more searchable, it’s important to understand how recruiters use LinkedIn.

We are familiar with LinkedIn’s basic functions for job searching; however recruiters receive access to an exclusive candidate-searching tool known as LinkedIn Recruiter. This premium function allows recruiters to expand their candidate search beyond just personal networks, to the entire LinkedIn community. This gives them the ability to maximize the number of profiles they can view. Additionally, once they view a profile of someone who fits the qualifications, they can contact them without personally connecting, though a messaging service called InMail. A variety of templates are available in InMail, which can be edited according to position, and sent to a number of candidates at once. This service is beneficial as recruiters get a higher response rate than they would with other techniques like emailing or cold calling. Lastly, LinkedIn Recruiter helps recruiters to organize and manage candidates they’ve found and reached out to. As a recruiter you are generally looking for candidates for up to 30 open positions at once, and it becomes increasingly difficult to keep track of which individuals have been screened, declined, interviewed, etc. making this function extremely valuable. But searching for candidates is where it all starts, and where it gets a little tricky.

Recruiters search LinkedIn using a process very similar to SEO (search engine optimization) called Boolean searching. Like SEO helps a company to become more affectively visible to the Internet community, Boolean searches help viable candidates become more visible to a recruiter. This search tool relies on specific modifiers such as quotes, parenthesis, and combinations of AND, OR, and NOT, to help recruiters find results most closely related to the types of profiles they need to find.


Quotes- when you want to search for an exact phrase

  • “executive assistant”

Parenthesis- when you want to do a complex search

  •  software AND (engineer OR architect)

AND-when you want to search for profiles which include two terms

  • software AND engineer

Let’s say you’re applying for a job as a systems analyst. Someone in this field uses computers and related systems to design new IT solutions1. When recruiters search for candidates to fill system analyst positions, they look for very specific experience with certain software programs, such as C++, Javascript, SSIS, etc. so it is important to note any experience precisely on your LinkedIn profile and your resume as these programs will be most searched by recruiters.

This concept applies to all positions, so become familiar with what recruiters in your particular field are looking for, and structure your resume/ profile accordingly to highlight these skills and experiences. While recruiters appreciate seeing your GPA and relevant experience, it is more important to note what valuable skills you gained from your education and past jobs, not simply a retelling of what you did.

At the end of the day recruiters don’t care whether you’ve had 7 jobs, or 1, pending that 1 job was relevant experience to the job you’re applying for. When they search for “systems analyst” on LinkedIn, if that title is listed on your profile, you will appear in their search. So make sure you’re ready for a resume review at all times!

-Sarah Cinski



4 thoughts on “How Recruiters Use LinkedIn

  1. Sarah,

    This is really interesting information about how recruiters use LinkedIn. I’ve been working on my LinkedIn profile a lot over the past view months, as I’m graduating in April and applying to jobs. I like that you gave examples of how Boolean searches work. Thanks for the info and tips!



  2. Sarah,

    I wasn’t familiar with LinkedIn Recruiter before reading this post, so I’m glad you decided to write about it. I also liked how you related the search tools that recruiters use to find prospective employees to SEO. As I continue to work on my LinkedIn profile, I will be sure to use keywords about my skills to make myself more searchable.



  3. Hi,

    This post was very informative. It was interesting to see how recruiters search for possible employees, and it helped to understand how to craft my profile. I plan to add more skills to my LinkedIn, but should I do it under each job description or under “skills and endorsements?” I do not have many endorsements because many of my employers on not active on LinkedIn. I wonder if recruiters will judge me on the number of endorsements for each skill.



  4. This is really helpful in terms of knowing what key words you should have in your profile, and knowing exactly what recruiters are looking for. I’m new to LinkedIn, so I definitely think I need to make my profile way more specific. Another LinkedIn recruiting question I always have is how to know which are scams and which are serious. The first day I joined LinkedIn, I received two messages both obvious copy and paste invitations to do something/contact the sender. I wonder what they searched to find my profile and I hope legitimate recruiters would look for the same thing.



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