LinkedIn is the number one platform used by professionals and hiring managers – over 95% of recruiters use it regularly. It is therefore important that you are present on this very strategic social media platform.
Your LinkedIn profile is essentially an online version of your resume, in addition to showcasing your personal brand. If you are returning to the workforce or making a career change (or both), we strongly recommend that you have a profile on LinkedIn.
Here are our top 12 tips to make sure your LinkedIn profile best reflects who you are and what you’re looking for next.
1. Profile picture
LinkedIn said that profiles with photos are seven times more likely to be viewed by others. That’s why it’s important to try and get a professional photo, or at least get a friend to take your photo in good light with an updated camera phone. Many industry and networking events now offer this benefit for free to attendees, so you can update your photo for little or no cost.
The key is to make sure that your overall image is professional and accessible. It sounds simple enough, but you would be surprised how many people try to use blurry photos, feature other people or pets, or are taken from an odd angle. Some don’t even include a photo at all.
2. Banner photo
When creating their LinkedIn profile, many people find the headline photo trivial or unnecessary. It couldn’t be further from the truth. In terms of personal branding, your title photo is a huge piece of real estate where you can showcase your brand. In a world where recruiters and hiring managers spend only six seconds scanning a profile and where 90% of the information the brain processes is visual (the brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text), the visual element is what attracts them and makes them want to know more about you.
Look for other profiles and note what is visually appealing. Then challenge yourself to find an image that sums up your professional personality.
Your title automatically fills the current role or the last one you had. It is not useful or relevant when you are no longer in the workforce or looking to turn to something different. You want to use this space to convey your brand and what you are looking for next. Make sure it’s compelling enough that recruiters and hiring managers will want to keep reading and learning more about you. The title should say what you are looking to do next and not what you have done in the past if you are looking to pivot.
4. About the section
The about section is a longer, more detailed (but not overly detailed) version of your title and should be around three to five sentences long. Give your audience a sense of who you are, what excites you and what makes you unique. You want to make sure you include these main points in your summary:
- to live
- professional interests
- key words
Use your pitch as a reference, add a few more specific details, and then write it in the first person to infuse some personality and showcase your professional interests. The tricky part is remembering that it’s not just about your past roles and responsibilities, it’s about your skills, the impact and accomplishments you have gained using those skills, and how they will apply. and help you contribute to where you want to go next.
5. Contact details
Make it as easy as possible for contacts to contact you. Include your email and phone number during your job search so recruiters can contact you quickly.
6. Location and industry
It is important to include your location and make sure that this is where you want to search for jobs, especially if you want to relocate (unless the company has a workforce work mostly distant or that the type of job you seek tends to be distant). Often times, this is the first search term used by hiring managers and recruiters, and you don’t want to be kicked out on that basis. The same goes for the industry – you want to make sure it fits the industry you’re looking to come back to or pivot into.
A good practice is to customize your profile URL. Your URL is the web address for your profile page. Examples are / in / sarahduenwald / and / in / nancymcjensen /. Sarah’s last name is rare, and Nancy has combined her maiden name (McSharry) and her married name (Jensen). If you have a more common name, you can get a little creative. Again, while something like this might not seem like a big deal, it’s still a part of your overall brand, details matter to recruiters and hiring managers and it shows you’re relevant.
8. Experience section
The easiest way to start filling out this section is to copy / paste your experience from your CV. It’s important that you include your job, your education, and your industry, and that everything fits.
The difference between your resume and your LinkedIn profile is that you can’t include all of your past work on a personalized resume if it doesn’t apply to the job. But it’s okay and appropriate to include all of your work history on LinkedIn. Employers expect your resume to be specific and condensed, but your LinkedIn profile can be larger and more detailed. This is your page on the professional that you are, and reflecting the different jobs you have been involved in shows how you have evolved into who you are today.
9. Privacy settings
It’s important to understand who can see your profile and your edits when creating or refining your page. You’ll also be doing a lot of “sleuth” from other profiles as you build your own, so it’s important to understand who can see what and when. Here are the main privacy settings that will have the most impact on your job search:
Profile View Options: As you create your profile, you will be looking for ideas among many different profiles and you would probably prefer not everyone to see you “looking” at them. (When you click on someone’s profile, they’ll be able to see that you’ve viewed them.) If so, go to privacy settings; on the far left, scroll to “How others view your LinkedIn activity.” Then choose “Profile display options” and click on the anonymous option. Once you’ve completed your profile and are ready for others to see it, you can return to full profile view.
Share changes to your profile: This can be a strategic setting if used correctly, but it can also make you seem less tech-savvy if you update on small profile changes all the time. In your privacy settings on the far left, scroll down to “How others view your LinkedIn activity.” Click on “Share job changes, education changes and work anniversaries” from your profile. Make sure the toggle displays “No”. Remember to change this setting to ‘Yes’ just before updating a new job: this will let everyone know you have a new job and you will receive all the best wishes and congratulations.
Let recruiters know you’re open to opportunities: If you’re currently looking for a job and your profile is complete, you can turn this option on to let recruiters know you’re open to discussion. Go to your privacy settings and on the far left scroll down to “Job Search Preferences”. From there, you can find this option and turn it on.
10. Skills and endorsements
One of the basic functions of LinkedIn is to allow other people in your network to support you with certain skills that you may have. Be strategic in your job search and use it to your advantage. See other people who have a job that interests you and see what skills they have listed on their profiles. What are the “must have” skills? Do you have them too? If so, make sure they are added. People often research using these skills and it helps to align them with the roles you seek to return to or pivot to.
In the same way that you can read product reviews before you buy them, recommendations are like getting a reference before the interview rather than after. This is also a great time to let that person know that you are returning to work and that you would like to reconnect. You can request a recommendation directly through LinkedIn, making it easy and straightforward for the person writing it. If you have a good relationship with that person, you can help them even more by writing a recommendation specific to the skills needed for your next desired role, which the person can change if they want. Try to get a variety of recommendations – past managers, co-workers, vendors, clients (whether paid or unpaid) – all of this can showcase your work as a whole. Even having two or three will make a big difference.
If you have any awards that you have won professionally or courses that you have taken in your career, definitely list them. If an award was won years ago and is no longer relevant, you can always state why it was won instead of its name. Ditto for the courses you have taken. Sometimes the terminology can change, but the relevant concept is the same.
To find more resources on how to play the job search game, visit us on BacktoBusinessBook.com.
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