We all have a user profile somewhere, but not every profile is likely to appear on top of the search results.
Everybody has a profile somewhere. Actually, most people have more than one. On average we have 8.4 social media accounts.
Whether you’re on LinkedIn, GitHub, Twitter, Medium, Dribbble, AngelList or Facebook, your user profile determines for a significant part who can find you online. By better understanding how people find you online, you can also learn how to better find people yourself.
The typical person who’s going after people online is a recruiter. Most of the recruiters are entirely dependent on a single source to find people, LinkedIn. But the most effective recruiters use a variety of platforms to find the people who are best at what they do. Some of the other sources that recruiters might use in their search are GitHub, Stack Overflow, Twitter, Medium, AngelList, Reddit, people records, CV databases, even YouTube and TikTok can be potential sources of talent.
The process from a recruiter perspective usually starts with a search based on a job title, some keywords and search filters like location and experience level. When they’ve found some interesting profiles they make a shortlist and decide on who they are going to reach out to. Reaching out is basically sending a personalized or automated message to you on LinkedIn or mail you if they can find you email address.
A profile that is up to date with a clear background description, skills and interests is a lot more likely to be found online than one with very limited information.
Some people’s profiles are never found, and some profiles often appear on top of search results. You couldn't say that there is one profile that always ends up on top of the search results, but a common situation for recruiters is that they keep seeing the same profiles popping up in their searches. That usually has to do with how complete a profile is and if the right language is used (generating 'keywords' that recruiters search for).
In this blog we show you how recruiters search and which tools they use to find you.
Over the years, people have made a profession out of searching for people online. One part of the recruiting process is dedicated to sourcing. Sourcing in recruitment is the process of finding and attracting the right candidates based on a given set of job criteria. Also in business development and specifically prospecting, finding people has become a dedicated role. The people who take things one step further in finding people are people specialised in open-source intelligence (OSINT). OSINT is a specialised domain where people are dedicated to finding people based on data that is accessible in publicly available sources which is heavily used in the army but also in business.
The sourcing, prospecting and OSINT specialisations use similar approaches to finding the right people.
It all starts with the information that is available on a profile. The information that is available is very dependent on the platform where the profile is on and the habits of the individual user in terms of profile completion and maintenance. Recruiters have become very savvy with ways of searching for the right information and differentiating their search techniques.
Here’s a list of profile elements and how they are searched for by recruiters:
What information you should optimize depends on the platform(s) you are on and on your goals. Are you on LinkedIn and looking for a job? Then you want to include as many keywords in your descriptions that relate to what you do and turn your ‘open to work’ settings on. If you are an active developer and you want to contribute to writing quality code, you should upload your code repositories to GitHub and answer questions from other developers on Stack Overflow.
The absolute majority of recruiters still search profiles based on keywords (although search in general is increasingly complemented by intent and sentiment based mechanisms). Because of the mainly keyword based approach, almost everything comes down to the words you use on your profile: what those words are, how often they occur, if people are searching for those words and if those words are put in the right places.
If you want to be found online, here are some general guidelines to improve your findability on any platform:
Tip: Look for a job description that matches your dream job and include the keywords mentioned in that job post on your profile — stay true to what you are actually capable of, don't lie.
In your lifetime you are creating a so called digital footprint. You are leaving your own digital trace behind with all the profiles you create and your online activities. In most cases it can really help to get opportunities your way. However, you might want to check your digital footprint once in a while because you want to make sure that the public information online (still) represents you.
Here's what you can do to check your digital footprint:
The most obvious way of checking your digital footprint is Googling yourself. Do a Google search with your full name and check the first 10 to 30 search results. Anything that shouldn't be there? Delete it yourself or if that's not in your control, request to delete it.
Check which platforms you can be found on by using tools that check your username across the internet. Use Whatsmyname.app or NameCheckup and insert your username. In case you forgot yours, most people use their first and last name behind each other: ‘marypoppins’, possibly with a number behind it.
Find out which contact details can be found from you online. Are your email address and phone number available to the public? Find out with a tool like ContactOut or Lusha. After installing one of the chrome extensions navigate to your LinkedIn profile and see which contact details the tools can find.
Do a site: search for your profile in Google. Start your Google search with site:linkedin.com/in and include keywords after that describe you. Example: when I search for site:linkedin.com/in co-founder my profile appears on the top search results in Google (Yuma Heymans). See how many keywords you have to include before you appear in the first page results.
You can do a reverse image search with Google or Yandex to find out in which other places your profile picture is found. Reverse image searches are not very accurate yet but the technology is developing fast.
No recruiter existing today likes to manually summarise interview notes, these interview recording tools enable comletely automated interviews.
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