Social media is all around us. It has entered into almost every corner of our digital lives. With the there is a platform for professionals and job seekers: LinkedIn. The self-described “Professional Social Network” has now become the tool of choice for many recruiters but also for many job seekers.
LinkedIn has often been compared to a digital CV for laying out your work experiences, skills, education and more. This enables recruiters and potential employers to find and assess potential candidates outside of the formal interview process.
Setting up Your Profile
Your LinkedIn profile looks a lot like a CV, but this is a social network so it’s a balancing act. You’re going to have to put in the time to make it the best it can be. Oftentimes this means filling it out to the best of your ability. The more complete your profile, the better the odds that recruiters will find you in the first place.
LinkedIn measures the “completeness” of your profile as you work and offer suggestions on how to make it stronger. This is a great indicator as to how well rounded your profile is and potentially attractive it is to recruiters.
It doesn’t matter if you’re currently looking for work or not, however, as by keeping this topped up and optimised you can appeal to a wider audience and build a personal brand (more on this later).
Another aspect of your profile is the customized URL (ideally linkedin.com/yourname). This means you can share a link to your profile and it is easier to remember for people.
How to get one? On the Edit Profile screen, at the bottom of the grey window that shows your basic information, you’ll see a Public Profile URL. Click “Edit” next to the URL and specify what you’d like your address to be. When you’re finished, click Set Custom URL.
They say a picture is worth 100 words. Bearing in mind this is the professional social network you should have a professional-looking headshot for your profile photo.
Choose a clear, friendly, and appropriately professional image.
If you’re unsure take a look around at what the people in your target company, industry sector, or business level are wearing. Match that.
If you want to go all out, hire a professional photographer to take a great headshot that frames your face perfectly. This will give you that little extra edge.
BREAKING NEWS: Grab Attention with the Headline!
Your headline doesn’t have to be your job title and company—in fact, especially if you’re looking for jobs, it shouldn’t be. Instead, use that space to succinctly showcase your speciality, value proposition, or your “so what?” The more specific you can be about what sets you apart from the competition, the better.
Our best advice is to think of yourself as a business or a product to sell. What is the most unique and valuable thing about you that you want to sell to potential employers? Then capture that in a small sentence and put it as your headline.
Use Your Target Job Descriptions to Your Advantage
We’ve said about this several times before, but always use the job description as the biggest source of keywords and clues. Think about the key skills and qualities these job descriptions seem to value and want. Then make sure they are peppered throughout your LinkedIn profile. That way should a recruiter or a potential new employer scout LinkedIn, your profile is likely to appear in their search.
This is particularly important in your summary section. This tiny section at the top of your LinkedIn profile acts as your personal statement. This is where you can really lay out who you are, but also what you are capable of.
Remember that you are trying to sell yourself, a person and a human being. So be personable, show personality and authenticity. Tailoring your profile is about letting people get to know you, so don’t write your profile in the third person or in a boring non-descript manner.
Be Specific & Original
Remember that being vague will not land you roles. As we have said before, you need to show specifically what your responsibilities and achievements are in your CV. Recruiters want to hire people who can be the best at the job and make the biggest impact.
An easy formula to keep in mind is “I did X that resulted in Y”
- I was responsible for financial administration saving £5000 in potential lost revenue.
- I implemented a social media strategy that led to a 5% increase in sales
- I managed a sales team that increased average order value from £25 to £47
A quick Google search will show you there are lots of lists of buzzwords to either include or exclude.
A lot of the time you will find the same words on both lists. So which list do you trust?
Pick the ones that are most accurate and truthful. Be honest and use the most accurate, non-cliché/buzzwordy words or phrases.
There are always ways of making you sound good without stretching the truth or lying.
Be careful though because there are a lot of clichés that people have used on their CVs.
When you use them you sound unimaginative, unoriginal and bland.
Some great ones to avoid are:
- Strong work ethic
- Strategic thinker
- I can work on my own or as part of a team
- Think outside the box
- I have good communication skill
- Hard worker
- Team player
Also, avoid technical jargon as much as you can.
Unless it’s a specific keyword that will help you with job search or employers finding you, avoid using it.
We’ve spent the past few paragraphs comparing your LinkedIn profile to being like your CV. The only issue is, that people treat it exactly like one. At the end of the day this is still a social network, so be personable and social. You need to show off who you are and get people to know the person behind the immaculate profile and good looking headshot.
Make sure your profile is up to date! This is the number 1 downfall of people on LinkedIn. An out of date profile will make you virtually invisible to potential employers and recruiters. There’s a common trope that it’s easier to find work if you’re already in a job. This is true (to a degree) on LinkedIn. If you are unemployed or have been for a little while, put it as your current job with a small explanation as to why. At least people can see it’s up to date and also see what kinds of work you are looking for.
The rest of your profile will make up the rest of the skills and information needed to prove you are suitable for the role.
We’ve already said that a picture can say 1000 words. Well, what better way to show your achievements by showing them. Add articles you’ve written, slideshows you’ve made, photographs you’ve taken and even add a video introducing yourself! Click ‘Edit profile,’ scroll down to your summary, then click on the box symbol, then ‘add file.’ For a great little starter guide take a look at this video by videographer Jack Gaisford explaining the importance of using a little video to introduce yourself.
You can do the same thing with all of your work experiences, you can just share posts that interest you or things that you create. These will all culminate into forming your personal brand. This personal brand is how you will sell yourself on LinkedIn. The closer it is to your true authentic self, the easier it is to maintain, create and benefit from the platform.
Like a normal CV, you also want to pepper it with things that you do outside of the office. Things that make you unique. Got interesting qualifications? Add them in. Do volunteering at the weekends? Add it in. Speak a foreign language? Add it in. LinkedIn provides lots of sections that you can add to your profile to help your attractiveness to potential employers.
What to do on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a huge platform, there so much to do, say, share and new features are added constantly. To really build your personal brand and show off your skills takes work but LinkedIn is a platform that rewards consistent effort.
The number 1 thing guaranteed to grow your network and get people interested in you as a person is a comment, post, share and like. There’s a good reason for that order as well. The more you comment on other peoples content that interests you then you can initiate conversations, building connections. LinkedIn, like all social network platforms, puts a lot of value in comments, particularly those that generate a lot of conversation. For a great idea on how to grow your presence on LinkedIn quickly look at the $1.80 strategy by Gary Vaynerchuk.
Also, post. Create content. Remember this is a social network so the trick is to be social. Look at the people you want to connect with and see what they are posting. Is it interesting? Does it cause conversation? It doesn’t matter if it’s relevant to the job. The goal here is to create a conversation so that you can network and make connections. These will come naturally (especially if you have followed the above strategy) and you can then begin to talk to like-minded people and build valuable relationships.
What we also mean by creating content is do more than just create status updates. If you’re good at writing why not publish blogs and articles using the inbuilt publishing platform? This can really show off your expertise and generate great conversation. Creating videos or images also works really well as the more you create and showcase the better you will prequalify yourself for roles before ever sending through a CV.
If you’re more of a social creature, then definitely use the advantages of LinkedIn groups. These groups are usually very active and filled with great quality advice and discussion regarding their topics.
As you work and make connections with people, you will start to receive endorsements and recommendations where people can effectively review you and act as guarantors of your skills. Make sure you use these valuable parts of your profile strategically. If you’re looking for work, make sure the core skills of that work are well endorsed and present at the top of that section in your profile.
Another thing to note with recommendations and endorsements is this -If you don’t ask, you don’t get”. Don’t be afraid to ask old colleagues, bosses and clients for endorsements, references, and recommendations. Again, be selective in the people you ask and what you show using the show and hide options in your profile.
Looking For Work
LinkedIn is the perfect platform for finding a new role. So if you’re looking for a new job or a promotion, then use their jobs service. Lots of companies and recruitment agencies now use LinkedIn as their primary way of sourcing candidates. This is because people can get a good idea of who you are, your skills, your experience and culture fit through your profile.
If you’ve followed the above advice you should be well prepared to show off your profile and qualify yourself for the role. Remember that your LinkedIn profile will act as a more general overview than a laser-precise approach that you can take with a well-tailored CV, so don’t forget to take the time to prepare your CV.
If you’re worried about opening yourself up for jobs and actively hunting for work, use the privacy settings available to you to make sure you’re not found out by your boss!
Now You’re Set
At the end of the day, who you are matters just as much as your skills and experience. That’s what makes LinkedIn such a great platform for job seekers as the professional elements can highlight your competencies whilst the social aspect of the platform lets you show off who you are (in the form of a personal brand of course). LinkedIn is a platform that rewards those who put in the work. The more you put into your profile, content, statuses and activities the more you will get out of it in network connections and potential career opportunities.
Remember this is not an exact science and it is certainly not a “once and done” affair. You have to keep adding to your profile, tweaking and improving every day in small ways. We would argue that LinkedIn is one of the best ways to find work in today’s modern world, so give it a go and see what benefits you can get from it.