Like it or not, LinkedIn has a near monopoly on networking in the workplace and is one of the main tools for recruitment. I understand why Microsoft bought it (great tool to plug into Outlook) but it also raises the fear that Microsoft will turn it into ‘bloatware’ and over complicate it. Either way, you need an effective LinkedIn profile in general and in particular when you are looking for a career change. I joined LinkedIn in 2003 and was one of the first in the country, here are some of my views:
- Photo – A good photo is vital. This is a business platform so no images taken at weddings, pubs or the beach! Smart casual, plain background, high resolution and a smile is all you need.
- Headline – This is vital because the LinkedIn searches look for specific job titles. Sales Manager at ABC Ltd. is fine as when people are looking to hire a sales person, the search will pick you up. ‘Senior global sales professional in….” will be less likely to picked up.
- Optics – Recruiters and hiring managers see dozens of LinkedIn profiles every day, make yours easy on the eye and stand out from the pile:
a. Background image. You can upload an image to sit behind your photo. Again, no photos of your last holiday but a high resolution image relating to your career or an inspirational message but keep it simple and crisp.
b. Brief description per job, keep it to the point.
- Accessibility – For fear of stating the obvious, this is a networking platform so you want people to reach out to you, especially if you are on the job market.
a. Make sure your ‘Contact Info’ section is fully completed
b. Click on ‘Open to work’ in your privacy settings, more on this later.
- About section – Less is more here. A two paragraph description describing you and your career to date. The trend is away from ‘corporate speak’ and more towards plain English.
- ‘Open for Work’ – This is a vital aspect if you are looking for a new job. Go to Me > Settings & Privacy > Job Seeking Preferences > Let recruiters know you’re open to opportunities. Click yes. Nobody sees this other than about 20% of recruitment agencies who have bought a specific licence from LinkedIn. Even your own employer will not be able to see it. Fill in the job description, locations and job types you are interested and you will start to appear in searches within 24 hours.
- ‘Looking for my next opportunity’ – The old adage of ‘It is easier to get a job while in a job’ is true. But if you are out of work, should you put up a message like this in your headline? Ideally not. It reduces your chance of being found in searches because you do not have your job title. It is better to be proactive and apply for jobs through LinkedIn. On this, let me be very clear, clicking on the EasyApply blue button is technically applying for a job but it 100% needs some old school tactics like contacting a person in the company that you know or contacting the recruiter directly.
- Activity – You need to have a healthy amount of activity, maybe 3/4 per month minimum. Do not just ‘Like’ other people’s posts, leave a message as well. Ideally at least once a month, post some content. You can either copy and paste a URL from an article online and offer your opinions on it or write you own content i.e. a blog. You can also just upload a good photo and write 3/4 lines about it. To gauge how good or bad your visibility in general is, check out your Social Selling Index here.
- What to say – As Microsoft strive to recoup the €22bn they paid for LinkedIn, unfortunately the ‘feed’ or ‘stream’ is getting clogged up with paid content and adverts. The posts that tend to do better are the ones about people or local companies doing stuff on the ground.
- New connections – When you make a connection with someone, you start to appear in their feed and vice versa. Make a point of sending 3/4 connection invites a week, ideally with a note attached. Do not do 10-15 a week as it becomes clear that you are looking for a new job and that is not always ideal
- Experience – For your more recent jobs put in 4/5 lines describing your role there and not what your company does, unless the company is small or it is not obvious what they do. As you go back in time, reduce your description down to maybe 2/3 sentences. If you are in the second half of your career, it is not necessary to put small 3-6-9 month contract on your profile.
- Your data – For some reason, LinkedIn do not make it easy to search through your own connections. Did you know you can download all your contacts into an Excel sheet? Go to Me > Settings & Privacy > How LinkedIn uses your data > Get a copy of your data > click on Connections. It wil take an hour or so and they will email you your Connections and 4/5 fields of data per person. This is a great exericse to remind yourself of people in your ‘little black book’ that you may have forgotten.
- Be honest – Similar to a CV, it is very important to be factual in your profile.