Best Practices for Passive Job Seekers

If you’re not actively looking for a new job, but are open to being contacted regarding optimal career opportunities, then you’ll want to take a closer look at your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is one of the most-used tools for both agency and corporate recruiters when searching for “passive candidates” (i.e., candidates who are not actively looking for a new job).  If you’re a passive candidate, there are a few things you can do to set your profile up for success. Let’s dive in.

Algorithms at Work
I think it’s fair to assume that, at one point or another, everyone has searched for something using Google. If you got a sneak peek under the hood of Google, you would see one of the world’s most complex algorithms at work, churning out thousands of search results with the click of a button.

LinkedIn uses similar algorithms to provide a list of search results, sorted by relevance. These algorithms use keywords and groupings of keywords or phrases to identify which pages and profiles should be at the top of the list. Knowing this, it’s helpful to think of your LinkedIn profile as a website that you’ll have to optimize in order to be found.

Ask yourself: Am I using the right keywords?

Recruiters typically start searches on LinkedIn by searching one of the following things:

  • Job Title
  • Industry
  • Skills/experience
  • Certifications/Awards

Job Title

Virtually everyone lists their job title on LinkedIn; however, a Systems Manager in one company may be an Engineering Technician in another. An IT Director in one company may be a Network Admin in another. Job titles are not universal. Therefore, it’s important to not only list your current title, but also embed alternative titles into the job summary. This will increase the likelihood of your profile being seen by recruiters searching titles other than your current role.


Title: IT Director
Summary:  “Leads a team of Network Administrators and Business Analysts…”


Each industry as its own vernacular and buzz words, but you’ll want to make sure you’re not being too specific with your keywords. In some cases, recruiters may be looking for a specific skill-set, and your current industry isn’t as relevant to their search as the skills you’ve built. In other cases, specific industry information is critical. Your best bet is to blend the two and find a mix that works.


Title: Sr. Product Marketing Manager – Medical Device
Summary: “Responsible for entire product life-cycle while collaborating with cross-functional teams in additional to ensuring all FDA and MDD/AIMDD regulations are met.”


Imagine you are a sales professional. How would you best describe your successes so people can find you? Most people want sales professionals who know how to prospect, close deals, and hit their numbers.  Make sure you profile tells that story.


Title: Sr. Sales Representative
Summary:  “Through diligent prospecting and networking, I have the responsibility of guiding new Fortune 500 clients through the entire sales process, including the presentation of our service offering and the close of the sale, all to meet an aggressive sales quota.”


When recruiters start a specific assignment for their hiring managers or clients, a good way to find a specific candidate is to look into industry specific terms like certifications or awards. This lets them quickly gauge the likely skill level of a candidate, as well as see their major accomplishments.


Title: Controller

  • CPA (inactive)
  • GAAP
  • SOX
  • IFRS

It’s time to get to work on your own profile! To start, imagine you were trying to find someone on LinkedIn with your experience. What would you type into the search bar?

Steve Yakesh has 10+ years of experience in the recruiting industry, and leads the Digital Marketing recruiting and agency teams, as well as fills high-level roles in the Executive Retained Search division as EVP at Versique. Prior to joining Versique, Steve held sales and marketing leadership roles inside global 50 and Fortune 500 companies. Outside of work, Steve serves as the director of Rockford Area Athletics, a non-profit organization dedicated youth athletics, and is a board member for Southwest Minnesota State’s Alumni Board.