In episode #2 of the Resume Assassin presents Recruiting Insider podcast, I sit down with Pam Policastri to discuss actionable insights on how job seekers can optimize their LinkedIn profiles to improve recruiter visibility.

Takeaways:

  • LinkedIn is a crucial tool for job seekers and should be optimized for visibility to recruiters.
  • Completing your LinkedIn profile is essential as it serves as your resume until a recruiter has one in hand.
  • Including relevant keywords and skills in your profile increases your chances of being found in recruiter searches.
  • A strong headline, impactful job descriptions, and quantifiable achievements are key to making a positive impression in a short amount of time.
  • The ‘Open to Work’ feature on LinkedIn can be used strategically, and there are options to control who can see your status.
  • Recruiters value candidates who align with company values and demonstrate growth and progression in their careers.

 

 

Watch and listen here. Don’t forget to subscribe, rate, and review!!

 

 

 

Transcript:
Mary (00:01.507)
Pam Polycastry, welcome to Recruiting Insider. So Pam, yes, Pam is here with us from Seattle, Washington. She brings 16 years of recruiting experience and 11 years of software engineering experience prior to that. Pam works for Curative AI, a small healthcare startup leveraging AI to help doctors and patients achieve great health outcomes.

Pamela Policastri (00:06.67)
Thank you, Mary.

Mary (00:27.843)
And she works mostly with people who have deep AI expertise, including AI and machine learning engineers, data engineers, and full -stack software engineers. Today, she’s going to discuss how job seekers can make the most out of LinkedIn. So high level, what do you want job seekers to take away from your message today?

Pamela Policastri (00:50.573)
Oh gosh, I want them to know how important LinkedIn is as part of a job search and have a few tidbits that they can go back and improve their representation on LinkedIn so that they can be found easier by recruiters. And so that when people look at their profiles, they find the kinds of things that they want to see.

Mary (01:13.891)
Amazing. I think this is such a great topic and I can’t wait to kind of dig into it. So tell us one of your craziest recruiting stories.

Pamela Policastri (01:23.052)
Oh gosh, since we’re talking about LinkedIn, I can tell you about just going through lots of profiles. I was looking at a lot of them at a time and I opened one up and almost fell off my chair. The profile picture that someone chose to use for their LinkedIn profile was this big hairy spider, like furry looking spider. It scared the heck out of me. And then I just started laughing and then I went and you know,

I was in an office at the time with at least 10 other recruiters sitting right by me. I pulled them all over and we all had a good laugh.

Mary (01:59.779)
That’s hilarious. So, okay, so tell me how did you get into recruiting?

Pamela Policastri (02:05.099)
I started out as an engineer, but I always used to be interviewing. I was at Microsoft at a time when even an entry -level software test engineer was doing five interviews a week because the company was growing so much. And it turns out I absolutely loved it. And so when I sort of reached the end of what I wanted to do with engineering and I started to look for new things to do, recruiting suddenly became the obvious choice. It was something I’d been passionate about. I used to volunteer.

at Microsoft to go to the college campuses because they have a really great college recruiting team, but they can’t get everywhere. And so they would send out an email every year and say, please volunteer for the different colleges. No, we don’t need anybody to go to the University of Hawaii. I know it’s February, but sorry, we got that covered already by alumni. So I would go out to Pennsylvania in mid winter in the snow and go to just…

places like that and just had a blast. And so I’m really thrilled that my next career ended up being tech recruiting.

Mary (03:10.339)
Yeah, that’s amazing. And I think, you know, in technical recruiting, many recruiters don’t have that technical background like you do. So I would imagine that that really helps you understand the candidates even more, you know, as well as the clients that you’re working with and the positions that you’re trying to place.

Pamela Policastri (03:28.331)
It really does. It’s not necessary, but it’s very, very helpful and it builds credibility quickly.

Mary (03:35.139)
I would imagine so. So yeah, I mean, today Pam’s going to discuss strategies to help you optimize your LinkedIn profile. So we all know that the job market is extremely competitive right now. So she chose this topic to give you some helpful tips from a recruiter’s perspective. So what is one thing that most people don’t know about LinkedIn?

Pamela Policastri (03:57.451)
LinkedIn at the end of last year crossed the 1 billion users mark, which is insane. What is that? Like one out of eight or nine people on the planet are using LinkedIn. It’s insane. So yeah, it is the place to start when you’re doing a job search. Even if you’re not planning on being found on LinkedIn necessarily, every interview that you do, whether it’s with a recruiter, whether it’s with a manager or a team,

Mary (04:08.099)
It is. It really is.

Pamela Policastri (04:27.371)
they are going to go out and look at your LinkedIn profile before they talk to you. So having a good profile that you’re proud of is really important.

Mary (04:36.035)
Absolutely. Every single hiring manager that I’ve spoken with and recruiter that I’ve spoken with, the very first thing they do when they have a resume in hand is look at your LinkedIn profile. So I agree. So with 1 billion users, that’s insane, a huge number. How can we take advantage of so many people on LinkedIn? And I’m curious how many of those are actually recruiters as well, because I’ve heard it’s the number one recruiting platform on the market.

Pamela Policastri (04:46.059)
Mm -hmm.

Pamela Policastri (05:03.819)
It is absolutely there are recruiters. We have special recruiter accounts that let us sift and search and sort by a million different ways. And then now there’s a recruiter light account for smaller companies that can’t afford the big fancy ones. So recruiters, if they’re not on there, they’re crazy. And even the ones who are at the scrappiest of the tiny startups who truly can’t afford anything are still doing bully and searches on Google and Bing and all the different

you know, browsers to try to find your LinkedIn pages anyway. So recruiters are there in full force.

Mary (05:40.611)
So they have this LinkedIn recruiter feature. So how could job seekers determine, you know, how would they optimize their profile to land higher in the search rankings? What are you actually looking for? What are you plugging into those searches to find the candidates?

Pamela Policastri (05:58.059)
That is a great question. So, and actually I’ve got a question that’s similar later in our conversation, but I’m happy to kind of jump back and forth and cover that. The most important thing is to get caught in the web. Like when a recruiter is doing a search, they have just had a conversation with a hiring manager who might’ve told them something like, I want to find, a product manager, but they have to have done roadmaps. Or I don’t want to see a single resume that comes across my desk that doesn’t have SQL on it. And so the recruiters are going to go in and they’re going to search for keywords and they’re going to search for skills. And if you’re not, if your LinkedIn doesn’t have that skill or keyword on it, you won’t be in the search results. And so what I advise, so my side, thing that I do on top of working at Curative AI is I help people with resumes in LinkedIn. And that’s why I chose this topic. One of the things I advise people to do is to reverse engineer your LinkedIn, to pretend you’re the recruiter trying to find you. What words would you search for? And then have those words on your LinkedIn profile and have them in your resume too, so that recruiters can find you.

Mary (07:23.459)
Yeah, I love it. I think that that’s amazing advice. And that’s one strategy that I use as well as that reverse engineering. Reading so many different job descriptions, you start to uncover a theme when it comes to keywords and phrases. And like I said, kind of reverse engineer those keywords so that you can really start to figure out what those recruiters are looking for.

Pamela Policastri (07:39.659)
Yes.

Pamela Policastri (07:48.395)
If you don’t know off the top of your head what the keywords are, there’s some ways to find them. You mentioned, Mary, you just mentioned the job descriptions. Those are a great place to find keywords. Looking at other people’s profiles on LinkedIn that are similar to yours is another great way to find them. And then you can even go to any of your favorite chat bots, all, you know, Gemini or chat GPT, you know, whatever you like and say,

I’m interviewing for an XYZ position, or I’m writing my resume and I’m this, what keywords should I have on here? So don’t feel like you have to come up with the keywords yourself. There are lots of ways to find the ones that are relevant to what you do.

Mary (08:35.139)
You nailed it. Don’t feel like you need to come up with those keywords on your own. You can find those in different places. In fact, if you do try to come up with those on your own, you probably won’t get it right.

Pamela Policastri (08:46.114)
you

Mary (09:01.635)
So you can see the top typically eight to 10 skills that a recruiter’s looking for, and then as well as other skills that candidates that you’re going up against have. So that will give you a clear understanding of the types of keywords that they’re searching for as well. So that can be incredibly helpful. Yeah, so why should you complete your LinkedIn profile?

Pamela Policastri (09:08.034)
Mm -hmm.

Pamela Policastri (09:25.442)
This is a kind of a debated topic on LinkedIn. There are some folks who feel uncomfortable filling out their profiles because they feel like they’re going to get hit with a lot of spam. There are definitely recruiting people out there that are just trying to, we call it spray and pray. I’m sure you, Mary, you know that one. And they’re just, they’re bombarding people, especially people in hot fields like AI and software engineering.

You know, they get a lot of noise and they’re trying to keep it down So they don’t want to have a lot of information on their on their LinkedIn profiles But the problem is when a recruiters on LinkedIn trying to find you they don’t have your resume They just all they have to go on is linkedin. So until there’s a resume in hand LinkedIn is your resume and People are making decisions as to whether or not to reach out to you for opportunity with opportunities that they have based on what you put on linkedin and you know, I

One of the things we can see in the recruiter counts is how many people are open to work. I can tell you it is millions and millions and millions of people right now, even in the hot areas, even in AI, there are millions of people open to work secretly, you know, because that is a feature that is part of LinkedIn. You can flag to recruiters that you’re looking and no one else can see. So if I’m looking at 100 people and 90 of them have filled in their profiles and 10 of them haven’t, I’m probably going to skip over those 10.

because I happen to work with a CEO who wants to be able to understand what somebody’s working on. And if I hand her a LinkedIn profile of somebody who hasn’t filled anything in, she’s not interested. So help the recruiter help you by filling things out. It makes a big difference.

Mary (11:08.931)
That’s so powerful to know. I mean, if you have 100 candidates and 90 of them have their profile filled in and 10 of them don’t, you know that you’re throwing those first, those 10 profiles out that don’t have, that aren’t completely filled out. So I think that’s incredibly important advice.

Pamela Policastri (11:25.666)
Yeah.

One of the things that recruiters have to keep in mind is that our reputation is on the line with every single candidate that we present to a hiring manager. And so if yours just isn’t impressive, that makes us look bad too. So it is in our best interest to find the strongest candidates that we can for the sake of the company, but also for our own professional reputations.

Mary (11:53.187)
So there’s an open to work section but some people are afraid to use it. Should they be?

Pamela Policastri (12:01.666)
Um, I don’t think so. I have advised people to use it. Um, and if, and the one I’m talking about is it’s on your profile right underneath your picture, there’s a, there’s a thing that says, um, I think it says open to work and you can, you can tell what you’re, you know, if you’re looking for different jobs, you can give job titles you’re interested in. Um, you can say if you’re remote or if you want hybrid or, you know, you can kind of specify what you’re looking for. It’s tremendously helpful to recruiters.

first of all, just to know at all that you’re looking, and second, what it is that you’re looking for. At the bottom of this section, you get to choose whether or not you want that green banner around your picture. If you put the green banner, then it is everybody knows in the whole billion users that you are looking for work. So people who use that are not working. They are either laid off or they are taking a break or for whatever reason.

not, you know, that it’s fine for it to be public. If you don’t want that, if you’re doing more of a quiet search and you haven’t told your team that you want to leave yet, then there’s another option that you can choose where only recruiters from the company that you apply to can see. So, oh no, actually, I’m sorry. It’s only recruiters can see. Oh, I know what it is.

I’m sorry. This is one of those things you’re going to have to edit. What it is, is there’s a section that you can… You’re going to have to edit that too. So you can either choose to have the green banner or you can choose to have it so that only recruiters who are not part of your organization can see. Like for example, if you worked at Microsoft.

Mary (13:32.515)
That’s fine.

Pamela Policastri (13:58.114)
Microsoft recruiters would not be able to see that you’re open to work. I’m pretty sure LinkedIn recruiters would also not be able to see that you’re open to work because LinkedIn is part of Microsoft and anybody else affiliated with Microsoft would not be able to see that. If a smart recruiter really wants to know if you’re working, if you’re open to work, they can call a friend in another company and say, hey, look up so and so. I’ve never heard of that happening. And I just tell people to put flexible looking instead of immediate looking.

for plausible deniability. So if you’re worried about it, then if anybody ever came to you and said, why are you setting it to open to work, you can just say, well, shouldn’t we always be open to new opportunities? I mean, this is not a new concept. So that’s what I advise.

Mary (14:49.219)
I think that that’s wonderful advice. And many of the clients that I work with, that’s their number one fear, especially if they’re gainfully employed already is what if one of my internal recruiters sees that I’m open to work and then it gets back to my supervisor and then things get awkward or they get scared that their job may be in jeopardy at that point. So that’s wonderful advice. And I’m curious.

Is there a difference? Is it better to have the green open to ban… let me try that again. Is there a… is it better to have that green open to work banner on or just leave yourself as open to recruiters? Is there an advantage to having one over the other?

Pamela Policastri (15:37.346)
It is, I believe it’s a personal preference. I have friends who have gotten jobs because they had those banners on there and people said, oh, didn’t know that person was looking and then reached out to them and they got hired in a tough market because they had the banner. The flip side of that is that there are some recruiters and hiring managers out there who are snobs about it and who still have that archaic thinking that if someone is currently unemployed, then they’re desperate.

I personally vehemently disagree with it. We are in 2024. People take time off for a million different reasons. People go backpacking across Europe. People sought to take care of parents or children. I saw a senior director at one company quit because COVID happened and somebody had to be there supervising her kids learning because they couldn’t go into school. There are illnesses. There are so many…

perfectly valid reasons why somebody might not be working at the time. And so I feel like to discount those people is just silly at this point. But unfortunately, there are still people who feel that way, who think that way. And so I advise people to do an A -B test. Maybe don’t put it on, see if you’re getting any bites. If nothing’s happening, try putting it on. You can toggle it. You can turn it on and off all you want.

Mary (17:00.707)
Absolutely. And you know, in today’s market, I’ve seen the same thing. People are taking breaks for a variety of reasons. And there’s no, you know, you don’t need to be, I’m going to cut that out. Let’s move to the next question. I had an idea and then I lost it. What are the top three things users can do to get noticed?

Pamela Policastri (17:14.37)
That’s okay. That’s okay. No, it’s okay. I do that all the time.

Pamela Policastri (17:25.57)
So one thing to keep in mind when a recruiter is reading through LinkedIn or they’re reading your resume, especially if they’re at a large company that’s doing high volume recruiting, you’ve got about six seconds to make an impression. And I’m not even kidding. We’re going that quickly. We’ve learned to read so fast that I drive people crazy when they’re trying to read my text. I’m scrolling and they’re like, wait, wait, wait, I’m not there yet. So.

you want to optimize for speed on both resume and LinkedIn. The first thing I suggest is having a really strong title. Like if you have something like people person or something like that as the first thing that they see under your name, it doesn’t tell us anything. We have nothing to go on. We don’t know what role you’re in. We don’t know how senior you are. You could be an executive, like a C level, chief operating officer, but

We miss it because it’s not right there. So take advantage of that space to tell us what you want to know, what you want us to know immediately. The next thing is fleshing out the experience under each job. Personally, I advise people to copy paste right out of their resumes. Just, you know, you’ve spent time on your resume, having each job show not just what you were responsible for, but what impact you had and why it mattered.

You probably have data, like actual numbers, maybe they’re year over year percentages, or you save the company money, or some great anecdotal story. Get all of that into LinkedIn because again, LinkedIn is your resume until we have a resume. We are reading that. We’re reading fast, but we’re reading it to see if you’re someone we want to reach out to. And then the third one is the skills, the skills and the keywords. There’s a section called skills and you can have,

at least up to 50 on a regular LinkedIn account. I think it’s 85 for premium. Again, it’s try to put yourself in the head of a recruiter. What are they going to search for? When I search for program managers, I look for the word requirement. I look for the skill requirements gathering. Every recruiter’s kind of got the ones that they, if I see that on a profile, it probably means I’m on the right track.

Pamela Policastri (19:49.282)
What are the words for you in your career? What are those special words? And get and make sure they’re all over your skills. It feels like buzzword bingo. I know it’s painstaking, but the better you flesh out your skills and keywords, the easier you are to find.

Mary (20:07.747)
So going back to the headline, if you’re working with a career changer or if you were to be giving advice to a career changer, what would you advise them to put for their headline?

Pamela Policastri (20:19.554)
If you’re trying to change careers, I would advise to keep it slightly more ambiguous because you want someone to be able to see you in that, in their role and not necessarily in the role you’re already in. Like for example, if you are a director trying to get to senior director, you could just say something like senior leader or, you know,

I know people hate the word seasoned, but I’m trying to think of another example of a good word, but something that indicates that you’re very senior, but that doesn’t say the exact title. That would be my advice on that.

Mary (20:57.923)
Yeah, that’s great. And do you advise leaving quantification out of your profile? Is there, you know, since you did say you recommend copying and pasting their resume into their profile, which I do agree with, do you think that there should still be some element of surprise when they hand their resume to you?

Pamela Policastri (21:09.058)
Yeah.

Pamela Policastri (21:15.106)
I mean, you’re optimizing for speed. You want it to be readable. You don’t want big flowing paragraphs in LinkedIn. Bullets are great, but you got one chance to get noticed, and the data helps you get noticed. So I would put quantifiable information on LinkedIn. I have it online. I think it’s important.

Mary (21:36.579)
That’s great. And with the skills section, I think that goes back to what we were talking about earlier, where job seekers can really start to review job descriptions or go back to that AI to really start to uncover what keywords they should be including there. Those aren’t just random keywords. Those should be very strategic as well based on what you’re targeting.

Pamela Policastri (21:51.33)
Mm -hmm. Yeah.

Pamela Policastri (21:56.514)
Exactly. Like for example, people will put leadership or management, but those are so vague, they could apply to almost any job out there. If you put something like Salesforce or Java or like your favorite CRM, like those are the kinds of things that a hiring manager might have told a recruiter, I don’t want to see a resume that doesn’t have this word on it.

So try to think of what those, you know, all the different skills and technologies and things like that that you have in addition to the soft skills. Like my favorite one is cross -cultural, is it something like global cross -functional collaboration? Yes, you know the one. So, yeah. So thinking about it from a global perspective, you know, the leadership, the collaboration.

Mary (22:39.747)
cross -functional collaboration.

Yep. Yeah.

Pamela Policastri (22:53.346)
all of those things. Management skills, rather than just putting management, I recommend things like people management, because now I know that you maybe write people’s reviews. Team building, morale building, things that make a good manager.

Mary (23:09.539)
Great. Yeah. And I would imagine for a technical professional, it’s really important, you know, for those that you work with to include those technical skills in the skill section. If you’re not a technical professional or you’re not targeting super technical positions, I would probably recommend that you avoid including those technical skills in that section typically, unless they do provide a lot of value to the positions that you’re targeting.

Typically I like to leave room for other types of keywords there.

Pamela Policastri (23:42.786)
Yeah, well, with the skills section, you’ve got a lot of room. But there’s always that chance that, you know, even if you’re like, let’s say you’re a recruiter and you’ve used, let’s say Greenhouse is the applicant tracking system. What if you run into a hiring manager that only wants somebody who’s used Greenhouse before? If you don’t put Greenhouse on there, then you wouldn’t be in the search results. So even, even…

roles that aren’t technical, I think there’s a place for some of them. I wouldn’t go as far as putting Office Suite or Google Workspace or anything like that if you’re trying to keep space because at this point it’s assumed that everybody’s got those. So it’s more the very specific ones, CRMs or accounting software that’s specific to what you do, that sort of thing.

Mary (24:14.723)
Right.

Mary (24:33.379)
Time for a few rapid fire questions. How many emails do you get per day?

Pamela Policastri (24:35.106)
Okay.

Pamela Policastri (24:40.258)
Well, I don’t get that many now, but I used to get hundreds when I was at larger companies. Now I probably get maybe 10 a day because I’m at a tiny startup.

Mary (24:49.443)
What stands out to you during a five second resume scan?

Pamela Policastri (24:55.138)
Uh, I look for the first couple of sentences in the job description or in the summary. And I look at the first job pretty thoroughly. And then I look for patterns. I look for growth. Like if I read backwards, would I see something like, um, manager, senior manager, director, senior director, like I’m looking for career progression.

Mary (25:17.923)
Biggest candidate red flag.

Pamela Policastri (25:21.122)
Complaining because it makes me nervous. Right now, and especially LinkedIn specific, there are a lot of people that are, this is going to sound awful, but there are a lot of people using LinkedIn as their therapist. They’re venting, they’re very upset. I completely understand. I was unemployed for a lot of last year too. I understand how bad it is out there and I’ve been helping people for a year and a half try, you know, do their best to find.

their next job. But we can see recruiters as we’re scrolling down your profile to get to your experience, we have to pass a section called activity and it shows your last three posts. And if you’re bashing a recruiter or slamming a company, that could really close some doors that you didn’t even know might’ve opened. So I’m not saying don’t be human. It’s so important to be human, but I am saying, keep in mind, this is still a professional platform. So it’s just important to, to,

to think mindfully about what you’re putting out there.

Mary (26:25.187)
best interview tip.

Pamela Policastri (26:28.578)
A lot of interview questions these days are coming straight from company values. And I’ve had some recruiters coach me on this in recent interviews that I’ve done. So even if you don’t have that anyone tell you to do it, every single company’s got values and you can find those values on their website. And if they don’t have a website for some reason, you can ask people directly, what are your values? If you know them ahead of time, you can think about,

what experience and accomplishments that you personally have done that align to those values. Because I guarantee you’re going to get at least a couple of questions that really are them trying to see if you align to those values.

Mary (27:12.227)
rewarding placement.

Pamela Policastri (27:15.618)
When I, this was before I was a recruiter, I was a manager and an engineering manager and someone came to me and said, I really want you to check out my friend. He is a construction engineer. He actually built the symphony hall, you know, down the road. He was the foreman and he’s, but he’s also got his entire house wired for NT, like Windows NT. Like this guy is just really, really sharp. Technically. I think he’d be amazing.

We interviewed him, I got to help make the call to hire him with my manager and he ended up getting back to back promotions and growing into this amazing, I think it’s been 20 something year career now. And I just couldn’t be prouder because we took a chance on somebody and it just paid off so well for everyone.

Mary (28:10.787)
That’s amazing. One thing that we probably don’t know about recruiters.

Pamela Policastri (28:16.898)
About recruiters, I hate to admit this, but I personally rarely read cover letters. A lot of recruiters do. It depends on the company you’re at. It depends on the size of the company. I come from really large companies where there’s just no time. But there have been other times at my smaller startup where I read what someone writes and then I’m able to see how they fit in the organization that I might have missed. So don’t assume it’s going to get read, but…

but they’re still worth doing.

So last question, what does success look like for you as a recruiter?

Pamela Policastri (29:13.346)
Success to me is an art, not a science. There’s definitely hitting number goals. If we need to hire 50 people, then hiring those people or hiring more than those people even if that’s something that we’re looking for. We want them to be high quality hires that come in and do a great job and stay a long time ideally.

But we also want people to come in who are happy and excited and love what they’re doing. I am not a pushy person. So if someone clearly isn’t the right fit for whatever reason, I’m not gonna try to force something because then they’re gonna come and they’re not gonna be happy and they’re gonna leave in six months. That’s not what we want. I forgot the rest of the question.

Mary (30:08.227)
was perfect. So where can we find you on social media?

Pamela Policastri (30:09.474)
Okay.

I am on LinkedIn and Facebook all the time. Those are my top two.