When plotting your next career move, making sure your LinkedIn profile is in good shape is vital. It’s an area I commonly cover with my career coaching clients, including those plotting a career change.
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, or if they do their profile is not optimised to show themselves off well to potential future employers.
Like it or not, LinkedIn is now central to recruitment. This could be for employers or recruitment agencies to find potential talent, or it could be for doing further research on candidates who have submitted CVs or application forms. Put simply, there is no getting away from it! If you want to pro-actively manage your career well, you need to invest some time in getting your profile right!
Make LinkedIn can work for you
So many people don’t make the best use of LinkedIn. Therefore putting in some effort can really help you to 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 and agencies finding candidates on LinkedIn or by people speculatively approaching organisations they would like to work for. This added complication 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. It forms a vital part of a strategy for using LinkedIn that will help them find – and land – a role that is right for them. 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, and appearing professional and well-groomed. What this means 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 ratchet up the smartness by a notch. Make sure you smile and look authentically like you. Avoid things like filters and pouting at the camera. Save that for Instagram!
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 CEO of an FTSE 100 company! Remember, your 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. This should include attributes that will be valued in roles you want to apply for. A well crafted short description can convey not only what you do, but also how you do it. Taking this approach is especially valuable if you are looking for a future role that is quite different from what you do now.
So 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 will hire you for what you want to do next. It’s a showcase for your talents, skills, values and other characteristics. Therefore, you can use it to paint a picture of who you are and why an employer should hire 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’s ok to copy what’s on your CV into this section, however do some work on the content to make it more impactful. Many people make the mistake of just listing their roles and responsibilities for each job. The problem is that this doesn’t tell the story about how well you performed in this role. Instead, focus on your achievements, such as ‘created and inputted an online marketing strategy that increased sales by 18% over 2 years’ or ‘inaugurated and led a multidisciplinary team of 10 people to launch a new product line that exceeded projected sales by 14%.’ Also, reference any awards or accolades you received. 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, leave out less relevant roles early in your career. Recruiters don’t need to know about your teenage Saturday job if you’re 45 and looking for a senior management role!
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. Also, add a short description about what you learned through studying for it. 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 very under-utilised. In the Skills section, you can list up to 50 skills and get them ‘endorsed’ by others 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’, adding more value.
The recommendations sections 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 complements by a third party about work you have done. Make a list of people on LinkedIn who could write a recommendation for you. Consider managers, colleagues, clients, and send them 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. doing something kind for another person feels good. It’s worth the time investment.
7. Volunteer Experience
This section allows you to add colour and bring to life who you are as a person. The attributes of compassion though giving your time for a worthy cause will be looked on favourably by recruiters. So too will volunteer work that demonstrates skills that are of value to employers. If you are a secretary or treasurer of a charity or community group, there will be skills that are applicable also 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 are likely to be more than you first realised.
The interests section lists the thought leaders and organisations you follow on LinkedIn. Follow those people who are universally admired and respected and organisations from 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.
Also – avoid following anyone who may be controversial. 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 against 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 seven steps effectively as part of your LinkedIn strategy to position you well for what you want to do next. This 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.