With 675 Million users, its no wonder that 90% of all recruiters turn to LinkedIn as their “go-to” choice for sourcing new talent. In recruitment terms, its often thought if you are not on LinkedIn then you don’t exist. Whilst this may sound a little harsh, the reality is having a strong online identity is essential in today’s crowded recruitment marketplace. For those, like myself who have been in the industry for almost 20 years, consider it, if you like as a form of digital, online, “Cover Letter”. Somewhere prospective clients can take a glance into your skills and experience and extract key information to help them make recruiting decisions.
I’ve worked with many clients who upon receiving a CV application, automatically default to taking a glance at their online presence such as LinkedIn profile to gain further insight. In such a competitive market, taking the time to construct an appealing online presence is a must.
A 6-step guide to using LinkedIn for boosting your job search
1 – It’s time to picture this
When it comes to creating a strong LinkedIn profile, it is always best to start with the basics. Statistically, LinkedIn profiles that contain a profile picture are up to 20 times more likely to be viewed than those that don’t. Your profile picture is the first thing that anyone scrolling through the site will see, therefore the general rule of “First impressions” certainly count here. Your profile picture should always be professional and a true reflection of how you look now, don’t go posting shots of you from 20 years ago to impress with how young you look. It’s always best to wear the sort of clothing that you would wear as an everyday part of the role you do. Also, be aware of your background surroundings, perhaps not best to take a shot of you with your weekly ironing pile in the background (Unless your business is to promote ironing services of course!). It's also worth mentioning that you can set a background image at the top of your profile too, set correctly this can help to promote a professional message to viewers. Here is a link to LinkedIn's own Talent Blog with tips on how to take the perfect profile picture.
2 – Making the right LinkedIn Headline
The importance of getting the right headline should not be underestimated. Alongside your name and photo, these are the only 3 things that anyone searching profiles can view without clicking into your full profile. Every opportunity must be taken to make the right first impression with a strong opening headline. For many profiles, the default in this section seems to be to enter your job title. Whilst better than putting nothing, we have to ask ourselves, does this offer the reader a real insight into your abilities and what you can offer. It is far better to write a quick but catchy headline that summarises exactly what you do, something unique, a USP that distinguishes you from the people you are competing to get noticed with. Try and relate the actual job that you do rather than the title itself. For example, for my own profile I resisted putting “Recruitment Director” and opted instead for, “Hosting recruitment journeys since 2002”.
3 – Offer as many options of contact as possible
This may sound a little crazy but don’t forget to include several contact options to the reader as to how they can establish a link with you. Be sure to include your mobile, email and links to any other social sites such as Twitter where the reader may be able to open a communication link with you. LinkedIn does, of course, encourage you to share communication via connection requests, messages and “In mails” but I’ve always found it’s a nice way to bring the “human” element back into the recruitment process by reaching out to candidates I view on LinkedIn via a phone call or email and then subsequently following up with connecting thereafter. The best rule of thumb is to give the reader as many options as possible in terms of ways to contact you, don't leave it to chance that they will
4 – Skills and summary help to tell the story
LinkedIn offers the option to select a wide range of pre-populated skills that you can simple scroll through and select the ones relevant to your attributes. Whilst it is a great way to promote some key aspects of your experience, caution should be taken to ensure they are relevant and current. There is no value to be added here by simply ticking every box, but do ensure you review this section regularly as your skills and experience evolve. The experience and summary section is a great place to showcase your talents. You must exercise caution to ensure you don’t slip into writing a generic summary here. Use this section to demonstrate what You as an individual can bring to the table, what are you passionate about and what career goals you have. It's all about promoting your personal brand in this section, allow the reader to get to know you and be sure to always write it in the first person.
5 – Endorsements and recommendations
Publishing endorsements and recommendations from previous colleagues, clients and customers is a great way to showcase your talents and can help to establish credibility when it comes to attracting new connections. There is no better way to demonstrate your appeal than to get others to shout about it for you. It is a great way of saying, “I’m great at what I do but don’t just take my word for it”. I do appreciate that for many, asking for a recommendation is not always an easy thing to go, I find one of the best ways to build appreciation is to show some appreciation first. If you are happy to endorse your colleagues/clients you will most likely find that they are only too happy to return the favour and endorse you back. A well-written recommendation can help the reader to understand your USP’s and will often influence their decision to engage.
6 – It’s time to build your LinkedIn network
It’s one thing having an appealing LinkedIn profile but useless if no one gets to see it. One of the best ways to increase your visibility is to build a network of relevant 1st-degree connections. Building a network will often adopt a domino effect, get yourself connected to the right person and you will soon feel the benefit of their wider network too. It's often that wider network that will result in opening up potential job opportunities for you and maybe even secure you that dream role. LinkedIn makes it pretty easy to get started in this area as it does allow you to import contact lists from other sources such as Gmail etc. Another word of caution here, it’s not necessarily all about numbers here. In the early days, there did seem to a trend amongst certain recruiters in particular to be the one with the greatest number of connections. Quality is far better than quantity when it comes to expanding your connection numbers.
LinkedIn has many other functionalities that can be used to enhance your search for a new role. We didn’t even start to touch on the value of joining groups or using advanced search functions. In truth, there are people out there who are far better placed than me to coach you on how to get the best out of some of those additional functions but hopefully, the points above offer you a starting point as to the key criteria you need to be addressing to get the most from your LinkedIn profile.
If you would like to discuss anything relating to my own experience of using LinkedIn please do not hesitate to contact me here