In today’s business world, you can be almost certain that anyone with hiring power will have looked you up on LinkedIn before getting in touch with you. Part of the reason is that your LinkedIn profile, as compared to your CV and Cover Letter, is expected to give a less subjective picture of who you are. Are you a fully engaged, active professional with lots of connections? Are they the right kind of connections? Which influencers do you follow? Do you post regularly? Who has endorsed your skills? Those are some of the questions on which your LinkedIn profile will shed light and which in return shed light on your personality.
The best part is that by working on your profile you can shape a large part of how the world (and particularly recruiters) will see you. In this article I will share some of the secrets that will make your LinkedIn profile shine. Successively:
- Getting the first impression right.
- Showcasing the quality of your connections.
- Working out the “About” section to your benefit.
- And a few extra tips for an even better LinkedIn performance.
1. Get the first impression right with a strong headline
It starts with the headline:
LinkedIn has lots of fancy features, including picking a nice background and building your own CV (a recent addition), but they should not obscure the basic goal: you have to put together 5-7 words that immediately position you as a special person and make the recruiter want to dig further.
Many people just state general, boring information, like their current status. You can do better: use the headline to start telling your story. Most important come first.
Look at mine above. I am not looking for a job, but I am looking to highlight Propulsion and bring people to it. So instead of just stating my job title I showcase, right from the start, Propulsion and what it does.
For a job search, the “product” you are highlighting is you. Companies and recruiters give billions of dollars to LinkedIn (i.e. Microsoft now) to find qualified future hires, business partners, and prospects; often this boils down through plain keyword searches. You’d better be there with the right keywords. “Open to work, open to new opportunities, …”. Believe it or not, these are in fact some of the least used keywords! Use them to make sure that people find you.
You may have seen a recently introduced LinkedIn feature: the green circle around your picture that says #opentowork. It can help, but think twice about using it. It can lead people to put you in the “unemployed” rather than “active” category, not necessarily what you want. I recommend the following video: Why Being #OpenToWork on LinkedIn is Working Against You by Jordan Carroll. As Jordan explains, there are many ways to show that you’re looking for a job without devaluing yourself.
2. Connections: quality and quantity
LinkedIn is not just a platform to show your stuff but also an opportunity to engage the world, via the contact/messaging functionalities, and to learn about the world through the newsfeed. It is getting better at these all the time (probably the reason Facebook is slowly dying). I used to spend my days answering emails, but now it’s LinkedIn more and more of the time.
To benefit from this enormous potential you have to grow your network. There are two reasons to get lots of good connections: for the recruiters; for you.
For the recruiters: seeing a profile with a couple hundred lowly connections is not going to impress anyone. A rich network, on the other hand, positions you as an enterprising, active, open individual who constantly engages with interesting people.
Now (the most important): connections are good for you. Connections you have in common with recruiters and other important people may serve as door openers. Playing the LinkedIn game – including the job portal – will get you to the decision-maker in no time.
LinkedIn is so important for job search!
You should also keep in mind other benefits of an extensive network.The goal is clear: get to 500+ connections as fast as possible. Why? Is this a popularity contest? Not quite but close. In her blog What Happens When You Reach 500+ Connections on LinkedIn?, Madison Mussio states it perfectly. Once you reach that level, LinkedIn gives you a VIP treatment in terms of (1) search functionalities: ability to find people (2) credibility: you must be someone important (3) audience: more people will find you.
So much about the quantity of connections. But what about their quality? I often get the question: “Should I really accept a contact request with someone I don’t know?”, If you are uncomfortable with that prospect, remember that this is not the real question. What you should be asking instead includes: Is it worthwhile to be in contact? Are we in the same or similar industry? Will we learn something from each other? Is there a common purpose that will unite us in the future? If the answer to most of these questions is yes, then go for it.
You do have to exercise judgment. Don’t just hit the connect button every time you see someone with seniority at a company you want to work for. Your acceptance rate will be very low and you’ll miss out on great opportunities. Instead, as with the CV and Cover Letter approach, put yourself in the other person’s shoes. If you don’t make a good case, then you’re wasting their precious time. Using LinkedIn terminology, this calls fors “Add a note before connecting”. Do this right and watch how your acceptance rates increase. Here’s an example:
You only get 300 characters, so make the best use of your words.
So it’s not quality versus quantity, but quality and quantity. With the right amount of effort, you can reach that magical threshold of 500 connections and ensure that they are good connections. The result is worth it.
3. Take the About section seriously
Aside from the sections that make your LinkedIn page your online CV – positions, accomplishments, languages, education… – , you get to add a personal touch with the About section. Keep it short and simple, but make it express what drives you, what constitutes your career purpose, and what your ambitions are. Here is what I have:
Remember again to put in the right keywords. There are systems in place whose millions of lines of code are all designed to find you through those keywords. If you don’t put the right ones, you might as well be a ghost.
4. And then more
Quick tips on some of the other sections and features of your LinkedIn profile:
- Experience: select the most prominent elements from your CV and put them there.
- Skills & endorsements: another way to show the world that people appreciate you. It’s not going to happen by magic, though: it’s your responsibility to add the skills you want to be endorsed for. Otherwise you’ll miss out on great opportunities for recognition. “If I scratch your back, you scratch mine”: don’t forget to return the favor!
- Simplify your LinkedIn URL: small point, but make it easier for people by letting them use a mnemonic URL – something like www.linkedin.com/in/your_very_own_name_here rather than a bunch of numbers and characters. Click here to see how simple it is to achieve this.
- Make a name for yourself: post, like, share … become an influencer :)
These are just quick teasers; as always, we reserve the more advanced advice for our students at Propulsion.
So much about LinkedIn, one of your three key assets (along with the killer CV and the world-class Cover Letter) in a job search. Now you have to turn these assets into a strategy. See you next for part 4: Implementing a job search strategy and tracking your applications.