If you’re currently searching for a new job, chances are you’ve updated your CV, signed up with a recruiter, and sent out more applications than you can count. But if you’re not using LinkedIn, you could be missing a trick.
LinkedIn is not just a social network for CEOs and entrepreneurs. It is for people at every stage of their professional journey. As the name suggests, it’s a channel for ‘linking in’ with the people who will help you achieve your goals and aspirations. But exactly how do you do that?
First and foremost, you need a headline that will make you stand out, but you only have 220 characters to do so. Bear in mind that this is not a creative writing competition and recruiters will still search for keywords to find you. Here are some examples:
‘I empower people to transform their lives as a Life Coach with 10+ years' experience and over 3000 thriving clients.’
‘Marketing executive experienced in closing sales, driving profit margins, boosting website traffic, and generating happy customers.’
Next is your profile summary, the first 50 words that sit under the ‘About’ section. This can really sell you as a professional. Not only should you highlight your experience and achievements, but you should express passion for what you do, state your ambitions, and make people curious to find out more about you.
Select the perfect profile pic and cover photo
The ideal profile picture for LinkedIn should be professional but still give a sense of your personality. By that, we mean you’re allowed to smile and you don’t have to look too serious. On the other hand, avoid using selfies or pictures from your summer holiday.
The best headshot is cropped from just below the shoulders, has a plain or blurred background, and taken with good lighting. The image quality should be high resolution and with no filters added. Last but not least, this photo should be current and reflect who you are as a person in the best way possible. It is essentially your first impression, make it count!
Cover photos aren’t necessary but it will give you more of a professional personality if you add one. Just make sure it showcases your achievements or represents something that makes you suitable for your job. E.g., if you work in events, a photo from a conference you’ve organised would be perfect.
Getting LinkedIn recommendations and endorsements
Recommendations and endorsements promote your achievements and add credibility to your claimed skills. Simply reach out to former employers and colleagues to see if they would be willing to leave a short review of their experience working with you. These are called endorsements and they’ll help you to build your professional status.
A word about etiquette: avoid outwardly asking for reviews in a public post or messaging people you have only recently connected with. Choose people who you know well and who you have had direct experience of working with.
Make yourself ‘discoverable’
Enable the ‘Open To Work’ feature in the settings of your profile, which will let recruiters know that you’re actively looking for job opportunities. On top of this, depending on how comfortable you are with making details public, it’s a good idea to list your email address or phone number on your profile to make it easy for recruiters to contact you.
This feature also lets you show whether you are actively applying for roles, your preference for in-office or remote working, and the industries that you would be open to working in, saving both you and possible recruiters valuable time.
Promote all your experience, including internships and voluntary work
It might feel tough to find a job if you’re straight out of school, college, or university, as you have no employment history. However, there’s always a way to promote yourself, especially if you’ve undertaken work experience during your time in education. Most people forget to mention internships and voluntary or unpaid work, or they think that these are not important.
On the contrary, the skills you build from these experiences are not only looked at favourably by possible employers, they also demonstrate your willingness to do that bit extra to develop and expand your capabilities.
Prioritise impact over actions
When writing about your roles and responsibilities, don’t just state what you did, but how your action led to a positive impact. Did you drive sales? Save on budget? Or generate brand awareness? What skills led to that outcome, and what was the result? Facts matter, so keep a record of your successful stats.
Link to your work
Whether it’s a blog you’ve written, a social media page you’ve managed, a video, or a media portfolio, linking to your work gives people direct access to your talent. You’ve put the work in, so why not show it off? Evidence is the best way to verify what you’re capable of.
Build your LinkedIn connections and network
You should connect with anyone that you’ve previously worked with or studied with, as they may have connections in the same industry that can help you out, inspire you, or offer new ideas. If you have similar interests and contacts, they will likely accept your request. It also adds a friendly touch if you send a message to new connections, introducing yourself and your career background. This will express your interest in sharing industry-related news. Talking to other professionals is a springboard for career growth.
Use your voice
Sharing your successes, insight, or industry opinions in your posts positions you as a thought-leader. Doing this regularly demonstrates that you are engaged with and involved in your professional community. Remember to engage with other people’s posts by liking and commenting, as this will show authenticity and that you are not simply pushing your own agenda.
Check out private groups on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a goldmine of internships and graduate opportunities, not just for full-time work. By joining private groups, you'll be able to enter discussions about topics you are interested in and network with individuals already making their names within those areas. This is vital for understanding whether a career in a particular field actually suits you and for gaining knowledge of industry trends.
Do your research on LinkedIn before an interview
You can check out who’s most likely to be interviewing you by searching for the company and looking through its employee list. If you can find out a bit about that person’s career path and personal interests, it gives you something to talk about, especially if you have something in common. Likewise, you can use LinkedIn to follow up with whoever you spoke with after your interview, sending them a private message to say thank you for their time. It’s a gentle reminder of who you are, and it shows a little extra enthusiasm for the job.