When plotting your next career move, it’s vital to make sure your LinkedIn profile is in good shape. This is an area I commonly work on with my career coaching clients. In this article, I’m going to share with you eight essentials for creating impact with your LinkedIn profile.
LinkedIn is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal in looking for your next job role. Despite this, a substantial number of people still don’t have LinkedIn profiles. Even if they do, many do not optimise it as well as they could to show themselves off well to potential future employers. Investing some time to get it right will help you find the right next job for you.
Whether or not your are a fan of LinkedIn, it is now central to recruitment across most industries. This could be for employers or recruitment agencies in their search for new talent or as part of research on candidates who have submitted CVs or application forms. Put simply, there is no getting away from it. Using LinkedIn well creates a huge advantage in making your next career move.
Make LinkedIn can work for you
So many people don’t make the best use of LinkedIn, often putting little time into creating a profile that sells who they are and what they can offer. Therefore, by putting in some effort you can really stand out in a crowded job market. Consider also that most positions nowadays are not even advertised. They are now often filled through searches by employers or agencies finding candidates on LinkedIn, or by people speculatively approaching organisations they would like to work for. This added means you need a robust and creative strategy for finding your next role.
Part of my work as a career coach is to help clients get things right with their LinkedIn profile. This is the central part of your strategy for using LinkedIn to find – and land – the role that is right for you. In this article, I’m going to share with you eight essentials for creating impact with your LinkedIn profile.
Your photo is the first thing most people will zoom in on when they view your profile. Therefore, it’s vital you make the right first impression. A good profile photo is one where your face can be seen clearly and you project qualities recruiters will be looking for. This may include looking confident, approachable and likeable, while appearing professional and well-groomed. What this means specifically will vary between industries. For some, it will mean dressing formally, for others a more dressed-down approach will work best.
Consider what people in the roles you are looking for are likely to wear, and considering turning up the up the smartness level a notch. Make sure you smile and look authentically like you. This might mean asking a friend to take a new photo of you if you don’t have a suitable picture to hand. A simple, well lit headshot will do the trick. Avoid using filters or pouting at the camera. Save that for Instagram instead!
This is a highly prominent section of your profile, so use it wisely. Simply putting in your current job title may not be the best use of this space, unless it is really impressive, like the CEO of an FTSE 100 company!
Your current job title appears further down in your profile and LinkedIn will insert the logo of your current employer if they have a corporate profile. Therefore, another way to approach the title section is to write something descriptive about what you do. If taking this approach, include attributes that will be valued in roles you want to apply for. A short, well crafted description can convey not only what you do, but also how you do it. This approach is especially worthwhile if you are looking for a new role that is different from what you do now.
This is a section many people don’t even bother to fill this section in, which is a massive wasted opportunity. This 2,000-character section is your chance to sell who you are and why you would be a great asset to a future employer. Think of it like your ‘elevator pitch’ online.
Although the content in this section is about you, the purpose of it is to make a connection with people who could hire you for what you want to do next. It’s a place where you can showcase your talents, skills, values and other characteristics. Therefore, use it to paint a picture of who you are and why an employer should choose you.
Use powerful words without sounding pretentious. Keep your target audience in mind as you write it.
This section is basically your employment history. It is fine to copy what’s on your CV into this section, however do some additional work on the content to make it more impactful. Too many people make the mistake of just listing their roles and responsibilities for each job. The problem with this approach is that this doesn’t tell the story about how well you performed in the role.
Instead, focus on your achievements, such as ‘created and inputted an online marketing strategy that increased sales by 18% over two years’ or ‘created and led a multidisciplinary team of 10 people to launch a new product line that exceeded projected sales by 14%.’
You could also reference any awards or accolades you received while working in a particular. These details could also go in the awards section further down your profile.
If you’ve had a long working life, say over 20 years, consider leaving out less relevant roles early in your career. If you’re 45 and looking for a senior management role, recruiters don’t need to know about your teenage Saturday job!
Use this section to focus on your most relevant achievements, such as degrees and professional qualifications. Explain anything that is unclear from the title of the qualification. Add a short description about what you learned while studying for the qualification.
Again, if you’re in your late 30s onwards, consider whether listing your GCSE results adds any value for what you are looking to do next. Especially if you have several further and higher education qualifications.
6. Skills and Recommendations
This is another section that is often under-utilised. In the Skills section, you can list up to 50 skills and get them ‘endorsed’ by other people on LinkedIn. List the skills most relevant to what you want to do next. For example, if one of your top skills is ‘web design’, get people you know to endorse it. This could include clients, colleagues or even friends. People who are experts in this area are especially useful. This is because LinkedIn shows your skill has been endorsed by people who are ‘highly skilled’ at the same thing, adding more value.
The next section – recommendations – requires slightly more effort. However, it’s really worthwhile.
Here, people you have worked with can write what is effectively a short a reference for you. This means recruiters will see compliments about work you have done written by a third party. The best way to approach this is to make a list of people on LinkedIn who could write a recommendation for you. Consider managers, colleagues and clients. Send each person a polite written request using the form in this section. People are normally really pleased to help and it’s hard to overestimate the value of personal recommendations. For the person recommending you, it is beneficial too as it feels good doing something kind for another person feels good. Spending some time on this section is well worth the investment.
7. Volunteer Experience
This section allows you to add colour to your profile and bring to life who you are as a person.
The attributes demonstrated by giving up your time volunteering for a worthy cause are likely to be looked on favourably by employers, especially those whose work focuses on social responsibility. Also, volunteer work which demonstrates skills that are of value to employers. For example, if you are a secretary or treasurer of a charity or community group, there may be skills you can talk about that are also applicable in work, such as organising meetings or financial reporting.
This section could also include things like fundraising by taking part in challenges or sporting events. Take some time to consider all the things you have done. There may be more than you first realised.
The ‘interests’ section lists the people and organisations you follow on LinkedIn. It’s good to follow people who are universally admired and respected, plus organisations within or connected to the industry you want to work in next. Take care with this section if you want a career change to a new industry. Instead of following companies who do what you do now, follow those related to what you want to do next. This may mean deleting some and replacing them with others.
Also – avoid following anyone who may be considered controversial in relation to your industry. For example, few people who work in the charity sector are likely to follow a right leaning politician or party. The fact that you follow someone who is incongruent with the values of an organisation you want to work for may count as a red flag. Regardless of how well you could do the job.
Implement these eight steps effectively as part of your LinkedIn strategy to position you well for what you want to do next.
Your approach should also include regular posting, commenting and connecting with relevant people to build your network.
If you find that you want further advice to develop or re-shape your career, then consider working with a life coach with expertise in career coaching.
Do you want to make changes to your career? Speak to Chris about how career coaching can help you.