How Engineers Get Found on LinkedIn (and how to hide)

There are two types of software engineers on LinkedIn: those aggravated by the large volume and poor content of incoming recruiter email, and those who wonder where all those recruiters are that are offering jobs to friends and co-workers. This post was originally intended solely for the latter group, which is either the minority or just less vocal. But being that I try to write for the benefit of everyone, if you are looking to reduce the amount of recruiter mail attributable to LinkedIn just do the opposite of the tips given here.


Based on the vast number of recruiters who regularly use LinkedIn, it should be simple to get on their radar. It is in fact easy and only takes a few minutes, and some of the concepts are probably obvious while others are a bit more obscure.

There are only a handful of items to adjust.

Completed profile – Incomplete profiles are apparently ranked lower by LinkedIn’s search algorithms and filters. There may be hundreds of profiles that match a recruiter’s specific search criteria, but the recruiter won’t see profiles that have incomplete sections.

While editing profiles, users see a profile strength meter on the right of the screen. If you are not at All-Star level, add additional information (photo, location, past jobs, education, skills, etc.) and follow LinkedIn’s prompts to reach completion.

Headline – The professional headline is the blurb below the name, which makes up most of what recruiters see in a search result. A relevant headline may be the difference between a profile view and a pass. Referencing a language or other primary current skill might catch a recruiter’s eye, and a short objective statement for active job seekers (Python developer seeking new opportunities in…) should get results.

Summary – Although users have the ability to move sections up or down the page, most list a summary at the top. If we think of the LinkedIn profile as a résumé, consider what I’ve written in the past about the importance of the summary appearing first (spoiler: because recruiters are dumb). The summary is an opportunity to freely describe yourself, and when used properly this section should be all a recruiter needs to read before attempting contact. Quantified skills experience (5 years with Python and Django) makes it easy for a recruiter to qualify you.

Keywords/SEO – What search terms do recruiters use to find potentially qualified candidates? Recruiters know that searches for popular terms (Java) or technologies that share a name with common words/letters (Go, C) will create false positives and yield questionable results. In these cases recruiters will use the advanced search capabilities of LinkedIn, where search terms may include a language as well as a framework or other complimentary tool to narrow the results.

Consider listing the most relevant technology terms in more than one of the following sections

  • headline Software Developer with extensive Python experience
  • summary Software professional with five years of experience using Python and Django…
  • experience Used Python and Django to build web-based…
  • skills

Connections – The number of connections is the key difference to being discovered for many. Profiles with fewer connections will rank lower in results, as the degree (1st, 2nd, etc.) of contact matters. Invest some time connecting with former colleagues or classmates, and particularly those with many connections.

Inviting tone/instructions – Some summary or additional info sections lay out instructions for recruiters on what types of contact they accept. This should prevent at least some recruiters from sending non-targeted messages. For users that are most interested in being contacted, listing some preferences (location, type of work, industry, stack) and deal breakers (remote only, contract only, no banks) helps guide the recruiter.

Contact information – There are different types of LinkedIn accounts, and a recruiter’s ability to make contact can vary based on subscription levels. If you ever wondered why a recruiter sent you a connection invite (which seems forward) instead of a simple message (which may be welcomed), the recruiter may have reached a limit based on their account.

If users aren’t connected, email addresses are typically not available. Some users will include an email address on their profile to make themselves easy to reach, while others have admitted that leaving even a small barrier in place (such as a Google search, a visit to a personal website, a GitHub hack) helps keep the laziest recruiters away.

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