With the continued growth of LinkedIn, the days of flipping through your local newspaper to find work are over. 30% of job seekers in the UK now use LinkedIn to actively search for work and connect with employers and recruiters. Nearly two thirds of all British professionals have a LinkedIn presence, and 9 million Brits use the site to network with other professionals and find candidates for available positions. A polished LinkedIn profile does much more than help you look for work: it gives you a professional online identity that makes it easy for employers to see what you have to offer. Think of your LinkedIn profile as an electronic CV, and take the time to make it perfect.
These ten tips will help you make the most of your LinkedIn profile:
Write a descriptive headline, and make every word count
Directly underneath your name on LinkedIn, you’ll be using a short headline to describe what you do, such as ‘graphic designer and web marketing specialist’ or ‘professional landscape photographer’. You can even put something like ‘hard-working business graduate seeking challenging position with innovative company’, if you don’t have a lot of work experience. This headline should be a line or two at most – you don’t need to write an essay here. The important thing is to aim this self-description at the specific types of businesses and potential employers you want to work with.
Choose your profile photo carefully
A clear, friendly-looking headshot is the best choice for a LinkedIn profile photo. If you’re angling for an executive position, you should be dressed in suitable office attire. Look straight at the camera – your potential employers want to see your eyes. You don’t need to have a professional photo taken just for LinkedIn, but you should look enthusiastic, competent and well groomed. Avoid pictures from a recent party…keep those for Facebook! For more advice, click here for unprofessional traits to avoid on LinkedIn.
Join and contribute to LinkedIn groups that relate to your chosen areas of expertise
This means actively engaging in discussions – not just begging for work. People will want to connect with you if you have something interesting or innovative to say. By interacting with others in the same industry, you can pick their brains about recent trends in job opportunities.
Narrow down your job seeking parameters
On LinkedIn, you don’t want to come across as a ‘Jack of all trades, and master of none’. Focus on the employment objectives that match your skills, and make it clear what sort of positions you’re looking for. The ‘I’m so desperate, I’ll take anything’ approach won’t endear you to professional recruiters or employers looking for a specific range of talents.
Use the summary box to explain why you’re unique
The summary section on your profile page is the first sizeable batch of text that recruiters see, so use it to explain your USP (unique selling point) – in other words, what separates you from the competition. What special skills do you possess? What value can you bring to their business? How does your skill set make you a better prospect than the next person? These are the kinds of questions your summary section should answer. You want to clearly define who you have been, who you are and who you hope to be in the business world. You needn’t confine yourself to text – feel free to include PowerPoint presentations you’ve given or short videos you’ve produced, to highlight your expertise.
Go ahead and steal good ideas from other LinkedIn profiles
Check out the profiles of successful business people, and see how they present themselves. By perusing a large number of profiles, you’ll get a better idea of what works and what doesn’t. A good profile is impeccably professional, updated regularly, and contains all the relevant information, concisely and efficiently supplied in one place.
In the ‘Experience’ section, list everything that might conceivably help you get a job
If you have an online portfolio of previous work, include it in your ‘Experience’ listing (or provide a link to your website, if you have one). If you’re looking for managerial work, mention any leadership roles you’ve had in the past. You can provide your work history in list form or in a more conversational format, but make sure you don’t leave anything out. If you have performed volunteer work that pertains to the kind of paid job you’re seeking, mention this. If you’re looking for a job as an expedition leader in Borneo, let folks know you have experience in jungle travel and possess a first aid certificate. Don’t be shy – mention anything you’ve studied or accomplished that might give you the slightest edge.
Connect LinkedIn with your other online platforms
It’s easy to connect LinkedIn with your Twitter feeds, RSS feeds, blog or professional Facebook page. Having all these sites linked up will increase your exposure to potential employers, and show them that you’re an effective online communicator.
Use SEO keywords to help recruiters find you
You can’t really ignore the need for SEO (search engine optimisation) in a LinkedIn profile. If you are targeting one or two specific industries, include a liberal sprinkling of relevant keywords throughout your profile (and especially in the summary). Don’t try to cram in so many keywords that you compromise readability, but if you’re seeking work as a ‘corporate event planner’, you should throw that exact phrase into your profile more than once.
Build credibility by collecting endorsements and testimonials from other LinkedIn members
If someone you’ve worked for in the past has written a nice testimonial about how efficient, likeable, trustworthy and brilliant you are, use this glowing praise (with their permission) on your profile. Put it in quotes. Bragging about how awesome you are doesn’t carry much weight, but when several successful businesses talk about how amazing it was to work with you, recruiters will start to stand up and take notice. Make sure you reciprocate with appropriate endorsements of your own.
Picture: LinkedIn Chocolates, Copyright Nan Palermo – https://www.flickr.com/photos/nanpalmero/4278432941