Think of LinkedIn as social media for businesses and job seekers – but unlike other forms of social media, this is one networking platform that you need to take seriously to advance your career.
LinkedIn is the primary tool for recruiters to engage with potential candidates and attract specialist talent for critical roles. In short, if you’re not on it, you should be. Also, if you are on it, you need to take full advantage of its many features to showcase your abilities, be found by recruiters and pursue your dream opportunities.
Here are ten tips that will help you do just that.
#1. Update your profile and make the most of each section.
Your LinkedIn profile is essentially your CV online, but on steroids, and while it’s easy to forget about updating the Word version of your CV until you need to send it to someone, your LinkedIn profile essentials are visible all the time.
If your profile is out of date, that doesn’t reflect well on you and can hinder your job-hunting prospects.
At the absolute minimum, make sure the professional headline below your name, your location and your industry are correct.
After your name, your professional headline is what people first see, and should at least contain your current job title and employer name (for example, CFO at ZYX Ltd).
Take advantage of the 100 characters available and use relevant keywords to highlight the skills that you want recruiters to notice, for example, “CFO and Strategist with expertise in…”
Use the 2000 characters allowed for the Summary section to showcase yourself to potential employers and interested recruiters, expanding on the content in your professional headline with more important searchable keywords to emphasise important skills, areas of expertise and career highlights.
Target your profile appropriately: make sure the information you offer about previous work experience is relevant to the role you seek. Don’t include vast amounts of detail about every single job you’ve had – stick to key responsibilities, projects, and achievements that you are proud of.
Make sure your contact information is visible and up-to-date, not forgetting links to any personal social media channels on which you are particularly active, for example, your blog, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram – providing there is nothing professionally embarrassing on them!
Use the Career Interests section of your LinkedIn dashboard to define what you’re looking for and let recruiters know you’re open to being contacted.
Make it as easy as possible for hiring managers and recruiters to identify you and get in touch.
#2. Keep it professional
Position yourself as a stand-out candidate for the right reasons. Ensure your profile reflects that with a few simple guidelines.
Always include a profile photo. If your profile has a photo, it’s far more likely to be viewed than if it shows a silhouette. There are many scammers on LinkedIn creating fake profiles – your photo goes some way to prove your authenticity.
Make sure your profile photo is appropriate for a professional networking site: a head and shoulders, face forward picture of you in suitable business attire will reinforce the image you want to project.
Keep the casual photo of you socialising or walking with your dog for Instagram or Facebook.
Also, add a cover photo of yourself in a business setting, perhaps at a networking event or indulging in an activity that you are proud of, for example, running a marathon for charity.
Pick a clear writing style and stick to it. It doesn’t make a difference whether you write in first-person or third-person, provided that you don’t keep switching between the two. Keep it concise, and avoid jargon.
Lastly, proofread and spellcheck your work to eliminate any typos. Attention to detail here is a sign that you’re detail-oriented in other parts of your work.
#3. Get recommendations
Recommendations show those viewing your profile that other people value your skills and expertise.
The most popular way to get a recommendation is to write one for one of your connections and get them to reciprocate.
Target people with whom you’ve worked closely, who know what you do and can offer an excellent testimonial.
If you want more recommendations, there’s nothing wrong with asking for them.
Use LinkedIn’s “Ask for a recommendation” option to contact specific connections and set out exactly what you’d like to be recommended for.
Don’t forget to include a personal message and point out any particular areas that you’d like the recommendation to highlight.
It takes time and effort to write something and the more information you provide, the more likely someone is to write a recommendation helpful for you and your job search.
#4. Highlight your skills and endorsements
Including specific skills on your LinkedIn profile is a simple and effective way to highlight your abilities to anyone visiting your profile. Your connections can endorse those skills.
Endorsements enable people who have worked with you to reinforce your profile content with just one click.
They improve your profile’s strength and increase your chances of being noticed for opportunities connected to those skills and as with recommendations, endorsing others first will encourage them to return the favour.
Make sure the skills you list are pertinent to the job opportunities that you’re seeking. If you’re looking for a Finance Director role, Financial Analysis and Strategic Planning are excellent skills to include.
However, non-relevant endorsements, for example, Social Media, may not be so helpful.
You can hide or remove any irrelevant endorsements and skills so that recruiters and hiring managers see what you want them to see.
#5. Use keywords strategically
When you’re job hunting, you need to be visible. Adding keywords to your profile will make that happen.
Identify the keywords that you want to lead to you when hiring managers use the LinkedIn search feature.
Focus on those that match your skill sets. For example, if you’re a CFO, you might include “forecasting” and “financial management” in your summary and throughout your profile.
Many keyword tools are available to help you to find the best keywords for your profile. These include SEMRush and Google Trends.
Get the keywords right, and your profile will be high in the search results for more potential connections and therefore opportunities.
#6. Post interesting & informative content
You can enhance your LinkedIn visibility and gain new connections by publishing content that reflects your interests and expertise.
Your connections get notifications when you post something, and any comments and shares make your content visible to more extensive networks.
Keep your target audience in mind for anything you post, and you could find that the content you produce makes you stand out from the crowd.
#7. Join groups
Another way to connect with people outside your immediate network is to join LinkedIn groups relevant to the job you’re seeking.
There are millions of groups on LinkedIn, so search for groups relating to specific job titles, skills in your area, or industry bodies or publications. There’s bound to be something that matches your field.
Once you’ve joined a group, contribute to it. Add to ongoing discussions or start your own, but be sure to concentrate on relevant content for the group and the expertise you can offer.
Carefully position yourself as a valuable asset and potential job candidate, not a blatant self-promoter.
#8. Follow people and companies
You can follow companies and people on LinkedIn, which means you see their updates on your home page.
By following organisations that you’d potentially like to work for, you can keep up with their news and opinions.
The same goes for influential people in your industry, who can offer useful perspectives that might help in your search.
The insights you get might be invaluable at a later date if you use them in conversation with a recruiter or in an interview to show you’ve done your homework.
#9. Use the Search function
How do you find new connections on LinkedIn? Use the search feature to find people by company, job title or skills as well as by name.
You can take it a step further with the advanced search, which lets you search by education, industry and previous companies. If you are a Premium member, you can hone searches even further.
If you have a clear idea as to how you want to advance your career, this is a useful tool to pinpoint the right people to contact.
#10. Connect with people – even if you don’t know them
If you visit a networking event, you naturally introduce yourself to people and start talking to them – after all, that’s the whole point of attending. Use LinkedIn as the digital equivalent and make contact with people you don’t know yet, but want to.
When you reach out to potential connections, don’t use LinkedIn’s default, impersonal message. Mention if you’ve previously met or communicated and touch on skills, LinkedIn groups or connections that you have in common.
A personal message makes it more likely that they’ll accept your connection request.
Expanding your network beyond the people you already know has multiple benefits. You add to your endorsements, get your content in front of more people and get yourself noticed. You also build new relationships and increase the likelihood of finding the perfect job for your skills.
In today’s digital world, using the full potential of LinkedIn is a crucial component of your job search and advancing your career.
Spend time creating a strong profile, being active on the site and building your network and you’ll make yourself stand out when recruiters or employers search for talent.
Photo credit: cartoon by Nick Maher. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.