Job seekers, young and old, approach me nearly everyday about the world’s largest online professional networking hub: LinkedIn. Most people are overwhelmed by the daunting process of profile creation, social media cynics ask why they need to be on a “glorified Facebook” to enhance their job search, and out-of-touch workers don’t even know what it is. Besides the fact that it has 300 million+ members and recruiters are trolling the profiles of quality professionals, working or not, data shows that LinkedIn is incredibly helpful when it comes to landing higher-paying, leadership roles.
As a recruiter, I first began using LinkedIn as a sourcing method about five years ago. At that point, 80 percent of hiring professionals were already taking advantage of it. Now that statistic has jumped to about 94 percent and over 3 million companies have LinkedIn business pages. From an employer’s point of view, LinkedIn gives us the unique opportunity of gaining a much fuller picture of each candidate. Because employers are cautious about making a bad-hiring decision, LinkedIn helps alleviate some of their fear of the unknown. It also allows us to identify, attract, and interact with professionals in a way that an ad or posting isn’t capable of.
CREATING A STAND-OUT PROFILE
Upload a professional photo. If you don’t already have one uploaded, you’ve already put yourself at a disadvantage. Studies show that you’re seven times more likely to have your profile viewed if you have one. The assumption is that if there’s no photo, there’s something wrong. If you do have a photo, be sure it’s a high-resolution headshot taken within the last few years and that you’re in business attire. LinkedIn is not the place to post photos of you and your friends having margaritas at the beach.
Don’t copy and paste your resume. Because it offers unlimited space, your profile should be a personal and engaging account that tells the story of your career. Your goal should be to provide a portrait that is richer and deeper than a resume. So instead of referring to the dry, fragmented bullet points on your resume, inject some voice and creativity into your profile to show your motivation, passion, and individuality.
Optimize with keywords. Think about your own search behaviors when creating your profile and leverage as many relevant keywords and terms as possible in your summary, experience, specialties and skills. Also, your title shouldn’t simply be your title. Use it as a branding tool to incorporate keywords and grab your viewer’s attention.
Take advantage of the perks. LinkedIn should be used as your personal “trophy case.” An effective profile should showcase everywhere you’ve been and everywhere you want to go. Its digital format and features provide the perfect space to elaborate on both the past and desired future of your career journey. Highlighting any and all milestone achievements from your career is encouraged. Use the upload feature to link files, videos, portfolios, and other beneficial examples that showcase your work.
Monitor your privacy settings. Many people neglect their privacy settings while creating or making major edits to their profiles. Whether you’re looking for a new position while currently employed or joining the LinkedIn community for the first time, you want to be discreet and avoid flooding your contacts’ inboxes with every edit you make or unknowingly let your boss know that you’re looking. The privacy settings are easy to find: Just sign in, and then select “settings” from the drop-down menu, where your name appears in the upper right-hand corner.
Once you have your LinkedIn profile underway, we encourage you to take a look at the rest of your job search branding tools. Complete with resume / cover letter guides and useful checklists, our free Job Search Toolkit will help you get your career off the ground and track your progress. Download it today!