It’s well documented that recruiters and hiring managers love LinkedIn, which means if you’re looking for a job, you should love it too. According to some reports, as many as 95% of recruiters admit to using LinkedIn to find, research or connect with candidates at some point during the hiring cycle. So, the vast majority of recruiters will see your LinkedIn as some point if they’re considering you for a job. If your LinkedIn profile isn’t updated, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity. Here are some tips for bringing your LinkedIn profile into 2019!
1. present your best self(ie)
Consider your profile photo your first chance to make a first impression. If you don’t get it quite right, it can also be the last! Choose a professional photo with a simple background and natural lighting. This is not the place for a shadowy photo that was clearly taken in a bathroom mirror. Nor should it be ‘sexy’ or ‘artistic’ – this isn’t Instagram. Professional clothing, a simple pose and a smile will go a long way. (Seriously, smile in your photo! You’ll seem more approachable, and it’s less likely to end up looking like an unintentional mug shot.) If you need help getting a decent photo, ask a friend, though a professional-looking selfie can work just fine.
2. pick your niche and stick to it
One of the biggest problems job seekers run into on LinkedIn is trying to throw in everything and the kitchen sink when it comes to their skills and experience. Some people think: ‘If there’s a little bit of everything, it’ll appeal to everyone!’ Wrong! For the most part, specialists are more sought after than someone who knows a little bit of everything.
While it’s much more acceptable to pack your LinkedIn with information than it is your resume, you still need to pick a lane. There’s no way you’re a human resources specialist, with a background in accounting, business development and law, who also happens to be a marketing guru, who knows 10 languages and translates documents in your spare time. (If you are, kudos, because that’s impressive! But still… we maintain you should choose one, maybe two, of those areas to focus on in your job search!)
This comes down to your personal branding. What do you want to be known for? It’s easier to pick a specific niche and show you’re an expert in that field than it is to make yourself stand out as a jack of all trades. Your LinkedIn profile isn’t a legal document where you must disclose every work opportunity you’ve ever had. Pick and choose which professional highlights you include to paint a picture. It’s all about framing your experience in the best light. Which brings us to…
3. tell your story
LinkedIn may be the platform of choice for professionals, but it’s still a social media channel. And on social media, storytelling is how you capture people’s attention. Recruiters and hiring managers are no different! Think about how many profiles they must read on a daily basis. They run into the same clichés and buzzwords so often that anything a little outside the box is going to be memorable.
People are drawn in by stories that hit us in the feels and paint a picture. If you lay out a vanilla profile that makes you seem 2-dimensional, you’ll have a hard time capturing anyone’s interest, including from hiring managers. If you tie in a little of your personal background story and professional motivations, suddenly you’ve got a hook.
4. share rich media
Photos, videos, portfolios, a personal website, blogs you’ve written. All of these things will instantly beef up your LinkedIn profile and make it more engaging. We highly recommend including some visual elements if you can. The majority of people are visual, so photos or examples of your work can be a huge boon to your profile.
LinkedIn has a built-in blog platform (it’s very easy to use, we promise!) so even if you’re not the type to start your own blog, never fear. If something noteworthy happens in your industry, pen a quick blog to share your thoughts, and voila, you’ve added some rich media to your LinkedIn profile! If that’s not for you, at the very least, update your profile photo and cover images.
5. focus on keywords
Keywords are the main topics and phrases that you want to be associated with as a professional. For instance, if you’re a copywriter who is interested in working in the insurance industry in Toronto, some of the keywords you’ll want to include throughout your profile will include ‘copywriter,’ ‘writing’ ‘insurance’ and ‘Toronto.’ You’ll want to repeat these keywords at least a few times throughout your profile to ensure that your profile pops up when a recruiter searches for similar candidates on LinkedIn’s recruiter tools.
Hard skills are also important as keywords on LinkedIn because many recruiters are looking for very specific skills, competencies and software proficiency. So say you’re an expert in ‘branding,’ ‘event marketing’ and ‘event planning’ - you’ll want to make sure these terms appear sprinkled throughout your profile as well.
6. list your skills and get endorsed
LinkedIn allows you to tag skills. Make sure you select any that align with your personal brand, as they’re a prime way recruiters connect with matching candidates on LinkedIn. You can also collect endorsements from friends, colleagues and professional contacts. Don’t be afraid to ask for skill endorsement from colleagues or customers who use your services and see your skills in action. Just make sure you’re willing to offer an endorsement or two in return, as reciprocation is often an expectation.
If you can swing it, collecting a few written LinkedIn recommendations is even better. These can be trickier to obtain, though. Again, don’t be afraid to ask if you do something above and beyond for a colleague or customer. If you don’t ask for a written recommendation, it’s unlikely anyone will think to do it themselves. It’s worth the added effort, though, as LinkedIn recommendations hold almost as much weight as a reference.
Recruiters and hiring managers live on LinkedIn. So ensuring your LinkedIn profile conveys the message you intend can be invaluable when you’re on the hunt for a new job. If you’re looking for even more tips on improving your job search, follow us on LinkedIn for more job seeking tips and advice.