With its nearly 650 million professionals, LinkedIn is a popular place for growing connections and building a network.
Whether you are searching for a job after some time away, changing career directions, or nervous about having a sparse work history, LinkedIn is a great resource in your job search. With a well-crafted profile, you’ll be well on your way to finding employment, networking, and building a powerful professional network.
What is LinkedIn?
Unlike most social networks, LinkedIn is not about garnering the most likes or engagement. It is about building your career with strategic relationships; quality over quantity. LinkedIn has members from nearly every country and industry across the globe, including a good number of Fortune 500 executives. Although there is some promotional content, it is at a much lower concentration than other networking platforms.
LinkedIn functions on basic networking principles: connect with people you know and who know you. After you establish a basic professional circle or “first-degree connections”, you can grow a larger network, find freelance work, and build partnerships. LinkedIn is a great tool for establishing and growing a customer base, finding potential partners, and keeping your job options open.
Why Use LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a networking powerhouse. On this digital platform, making connections works similar to as it does in real life — organically. Using leads and tips, LinkedIn provides opportunities to grow your professional reach and connect with a global community. It’s networking you can do from the comfort of your own home (and even in your pajamas!). This platform allows you to share articles and content, join groups, discover local events, and share professional knowledge. What sets this unique social network apart is its concise business focus.
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5 LinkedIn Profile Must-Haves
Last year, Forbes reported that 97% of recruiters using LinkedIn as part of their overall recruitment process. It’s safe to say that having a LinkedIn profile is pretty important to furthering your career. Here are five must-haves to put in your LinkedIn profile:
1. Your Photo: Include a simple forward-facing headshot. If you can swing the investment, get some headshots taken by a professional photographer. Selfies, photos of your cat, or your last meal will do very little to improve your job prospects. Photos should lean towards professional and dependable, not funny or weird. A person might not remember your name, but they will recognise your face. A good headshot gives you a chance to stick in people’s minds.
Hot Tip: Adding a photo to your profile makes you 36 times more likely to receive a message.
2. Your headline: Take full advantage of the 120-character headline. Many people only put their job title, but you can use the headline to market yourself and to make sure the right people see your profile. LinkedIn is a search engine for job hunters and recruiters alike. Try a headline such as “Retail Manager in Luxury Fashion and Accessories” or “B2B Copywriter, SEO Expert, Content Strategist”. If you are looking for work, take some time to think about what type of job you want. Write your headline to match that position.
3. Your summary: LinkedIn’s summary section is a chance to catch people’s attention while highlighting your best qualities. In addition to being able to write a career summary, you can include high-resolution photos, videos, or infographics, as well as links. This section is very important because you don’t have a long time to grab the reader’s attention. Make them want to read more! Knowing your “elevator speech” is vital in entrepreneurship, but it is also important in job hunting. You have about a minute to snag someone’s attention before they move on.
Using your summary to address your core competencies and key skills or address major accomplishments is a traditional approach. Depending on your industry, it might benefit you to be more creative. Essentially, it is a chance to define yourself on your terms. Instead of taking your CV at face value, your summary provides clarity and context. This section is a chance to connect jobs into a streamlined career narrative and to attract your next boss. At the end of the section, the reader should know who you are and what problems you can solve for them. End with a Call to Action (CTA), such as “Please reach out to discuss collaboration in X, Y, and Z.” It will entice the reader to connect.
“Your profile is not a resume or CV. Write as if you are having a conversation with someone. Inject your personality. Let people know your values and passions. In your summary, discuss what you do outside of work. You want people to want to know you.” Forbes
4. Your Experience: This part of the LinkedIn profile is similar to a CV – a place to showcase your experience and skills within your job history and duties. It includes information such as where you have worked, when, and in what capacity. If possible, include your current position and at least two other positions. Research the job descriptions of your previous roles and make sure you highlight any relevant experience matching those job descriptions, as well as any “above and beyond” duties you performed. For example, as a barista, your job duties might include working the cash register, making the drinks and customer service. However, your “above and beyond” might be to serve as “acting supervisor” or training new employees. This is the section for details and specifics, it isn’t the time to be modest. You work hard, let it show!
Insider Tip: Throughout your summary and experience sections, utilise keywords. Incorporate keywords throughout your summary and experience section and allow the right people to find you. Research job opening announcements for similar keywords and use the same language to craft your profile. On many sites, there is a list of keywords attached to each job description. The employers list these keywords so that they can find the most qualified candidates. Use the keywords in your profile that are listed on your desired candidacies.
5. Recommendations: Asking for recommendations can be a little uncomfortable. However, it is an important way to build credibility. Whether it comes from your boss, colleague, mentor, mentee, or client, a great recommendation can boost your profile and help you to stand out in the job market. The quality of the recommendation is more important than who it comes from. A short and generic statement about your skills won’t be as impactful as a true glowing recommendation, even if it comes from an executive. Instead of asking for generic recommendations, be specific. Ask them to review specific skills or to highlight certain accomplishments. Make sure different referrals speak to different skills, providing well-rounded credibility. Remember to follow up with a thank you!
Hot Tip: Listing 5 or more skills in your LinkedIn profile will get you 17 times more profile views.
Networking is like everything else – it can take some practice to become skilled at it. LinkedIn takes the principles of in-person networking and streamlines the process for the digital world. With a global professional network at your fingertips and a stellar profile, you’re well on your way to taking the next step in your career.
Hot Tip: Customise your connection requests! The generic “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn,” is the worst way to show your interest. First impressions matter! There are plenty of templates out there to get you started, so take advantage of those 300 characters!
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