LinkedIn can lead to opportunities.
As a job seeker, using LinkedIn effectively, will lead to opportunities. For many, it happens every day. These members have found ways to get in front of the recruiter membership that is active on LinkedIn.
Recruiters spend considerable resources in time and money to identify potential candidates on LinkedIn. In fact, the “Talent Solution” category produces the most revenue for LinkedIn, more than double the other categories combined!
Your profile and the content contained within it will become your brand and your marketing platform. In the simplest of terms, it will either work for or against you. The LinkedIn profile is a treasure trove of information that you are able to use in advancing your career objectives. But, only if someone sees it.
I have seen plenty of “how-to” posts, including those that I have made. Knowing how is an important factor. Knowing why is just as important. So, rather than just listing the content areas, I will share some common questions that I receive and answer with a blend of how and why. The list is far from being all-inclusive but does cover some of those questions that can make or break the use of LinkedIn strategically as a tool in the job search.
1. Q. Is a complete profile necessary?
A. According to LinkedIn, users with complete profiles are 40 time more likely to be contacted for career opportunities, mentor or volunteer engagements, or business opportunities. Not all will be a fit for your needs but being contacted is preferable to being ignored.
LinkedIn considers a complete profile to have achieved “all-star” status and to do so your profile must include all of the following:
- Your industry and location
- Current position, including description
- Two prior positions
- A minimum of three skills
- At least 50 connections
Note: Do not use symbols, numbers, special characters, email addresses, or phone numbers in the name field as LinkedIn could potentially restrict your account. Besides, there are better areas to place your email and phone number.
2. Q. Do I need a professional headshot?
A. Absolutely. When a photo is included in the profile, you are seven times more likely to be found (and viewed) is a search. That alone is a good reason to have a profile picture. But beyond that, this is your chance to create a positive “first impression.”
What kind of photo should you use? Start by considering your audience and those you are trying to attract. Are you a C-Level executive, a creative director, a business owner? The C-Level executive should use a traditional pose. The creative director can be, well, more creative. A veterinarian could be holding a pet.
Consider the profile to the left. Joshua is an actor and has a portfolio of professional headshots.
In spite of not using LinkedIn to its fullest extent, he misses the opportunity to improve the profile by using an image such as the one to the right.
As an actor, his image IS a selling point and the ability to catch one’s eye, to make a first impression is gone.
Please avoid the “selfie” or an image with a corporate logo in the background (what if you leave or do not have permission to use the logo in a public setting?) And leave the old college picture for another time and place. You could damage your brand if you are unrecognizable in that picture. And many of us can only wish we were that young again.
3. Q. What is a personalized URL and is it important to have one?
A. The default URL that LinkedIn creates when you create a profile follows a structure such as this: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/michael-smith/1/234/567 (what appears to be a random set of numbers). That URL is not exactly SEO friendly and is definitely not memorable.
Customizing the URL allows you to give it a “brand” and be easy to use and remember. Once customized, the /pub is changed to /in and the customized content is displayed. As an example: http://www.linkedin.com/in/mikesmithCEO. There is a difference and you should never accept the default URl. Customize it!
4. Q. What about keywords? It seems I am writing for a search engine.
A. To be clear, you are writing and using keywords to be found in searches. The Headline is one of the areas considered to be prime real estate. The LinkedIn search algorithm seemingly gives more weight to the headline and title than other areas of the profile.
Use at least one job title in the headline and descriptive keywords to tell your unique story. In some cases, more titles will be beneficial. Each situation is unique.
Where do those keywords come from? Job descriptions, of course.
You want recruiters to find you and they are trained to use keywords from the job descriptions to filter their search results.
5. Q. How important is the Summary section?
A. Simply put, this is the place where you can tell your story. Who you are, what you have done, and how you accomplished the results becomes the basis for this section. What type of management style do you use? How do you lead? Remember that there is a difference between leadership and management. You lead people and manage processes.
The summary is a great place to include your email address and phone number. It is visible and makes the job of the recruiter much easier. If they have to look for that information, they just might move on. Be sure to include the contact information in the proper section of the profile as well. The summary section placement is in addition to that.
Strategic cross-channel marketing pioneer driving growth in B2B & B2C markets through the development of integrated sales and marketing programs. Emotionally intelligent, hands-on leader passionate about building and coaching top talent and teams. Leadership and vision have consistently repositioned and leveraged brand for new customer acquisition and retention programs. Strategies have increased acquisition efforts in digital, social and direct marketing channels.
The summary should highlight industries, major accomplishments, and include “areas of expertise” (or specialties). In fact, the specialties area is a great place to develop phrases which include identified keywords.
6. Q. How can I use documents, images, and links in my profile?
A. You have the opportunity to add images, media, and documents to your profile in the summary and experience sections (and some other areas as well). Including supporting evidence has a tremendous impact on the impression that you leave with the reader.
You can embed videos and images, feeds from other social channels, websites, project links, and so one. Too many fail to take advantage of this LinkedIn capability.
7. Q. Why Are Recommendations Important?
A. The recommendation is a testimonial from your peers, colleagues, those who reported to you, management, vendors, customers, associates known through volunteer activities, and such. The recommendation is displayed beneath the positon for which the recommendation was written.
Unlike the skill section, shown to the left, where an endorsement is nothing more than a mouse click, the recommendation takes time and effort. So when you request a recommendation, be specific as to what you are requesting the recommendation for. Show the relationship that exists, describe projects. Would they want to work with you again?
8. Q. Is the miscellaneous content needed?
A. In order to create a balanced profile and to show that you are well-rounded, you should complete as many of the sections as you have content for. Keep the lists to the top three or four in each category. Ask yourself why it would be important for someone to know “this” about me. If you can’t readily identify the reason, leave it out.
The miscellaneous content includes volunteer experience, personal causes, organizations that you support and are affiliated with, external publications, patents, languages, courses taken, certifications (professional), honors and awards, and projects.
The “Interests” section is a great place to insert keywords without having the appearance of a keyword dump.
9. Q. Can I change the order of the content?
A. Not only can you, but you should. The content flow should be constructed based on the viewer needs and not the layout set forth by LinkedIn.
I recommend the following order:
Summary, Experience, Projects, Patents (if any), Certifications, Honors and Awards, Languages , Volunteer, Courses, Other Content areas, Education, Interests, Advice for Contacting, Skills (Endorsement)
You can choose to rearrange the profile in any manner you choose. I would suggest that you not change the summary and experience sections placement. They need to be on the top of the profile.
LinkedIn Activity Questions:
10. Q. What is Publishing and Should I Do It?
A. The article that you are reading is an example of publishing, also known as long-form posts. It is a tool that allows you to build a viewer base and become an influencer to your targeted audience, i.e., your connections. It also is somewhat automated. LinkedIn sends a push notification to all of your connections. You can take a short breather on figuring out how to distribute the content! Beyond that, you expand your reach to the first-degree connections of anyone that engages with your post.That audience is unreachable without the long-form post.
Your article should be content specific and include a call to action at the end. The more likes and shares that your article receives, the more likely it is that the post will be featured on LinkedIn Pulse.
11. Q. Why Should I Join Groups?
A. According to LinkedIn, your profile is 5 times more likely to be viewed if you are an active participant in groups. Begin by selecting groups that share your interests. Start with five groups of less as the goal is to not be in the group but to be a participant.
Knowing how to participate is a key to your success. You will gain influence and respect if you participate as a “giver”. Groups are not the place for self-promotion and in many cases, if you self-promote too often, you will find that your content is moderated across all groups.
Another way to participate is to create a group. It is not as hard to manage as most believe (until you get membership in the 1000’s). A bonus is that this group can’t be moderated…it’s yours!
12. Q. How large should my network be and how do I grow it?
A. This question typically results in the most disagreement. As a job seeker, you want to be visible in as many potential searches as possible. While not obvious, therein lies your answer.
The benefits of a large network:
Excluding the high cost subscription plans that give search access to the entire network, the limitations of your search and those searching for you is based on the totality of your network. Combine the total of all first, second, and third degree connections and you have the extent to which you are visible. As an example, a LinkedIn member with 50 connections (the minimum for all-star profile status) would most likely equate to a total network of under a million.
Have 500 connections and your potential network is around 6 million. Adding some of the so called “Super Connectors” and you may triple your reach. Image the reach if you added just these three connections!
By the way…are you wondering how I can see the total connections and all you see is 500+. Here is the link to the free Chrome extension, the LinkedIn Connection Revealer.
Your goal is to build a “useful” network and in this case, size is key. Start with friends, coworkers, industry influences and connections that you know outside of LinkedIn. That will keep you busy for some time.
The example below is the default invitation and you should avoid using it at all times.
Your invites should be personalized. Tell them why they would see fit to connect to you. Did you attend a seminar at which they presented? Did you but their book? Do you have common interests? Mention the why in the invitation.
I also recommend choosing “We’ve done business together” over friend (unless you really are).
You are allotted 3000 lifetime invites. If you invite more than 100 in a 24 hour period, you will have to enter a Captcha (human intervention). There are other reasons not to just blindly invite connections but one in particular can have significant negative results on your use of LinkedIn. Invite too many that mark you as “I Don’t Know”, and you will be required to enter an email address to invite them.
One of the most underutilized ways of connecting is via an introduction. You have access to your second degree connections through your first degree connections. Ask them to introduce you. You are more apt to be accepted AND it does not count as an invitation!
Settings: A bonus Q&A!
Q. How do I know how which settings to change and do I need to?
A. With over 40 settings to verify and change, this is a topic in and of itself. But there is one that is critical for the job seeker.
Under the job tab – preferences, you will find a button that allows recruiters to know that you are open to new opportunities. Make sure that it is ON.
At that point, you should complete the titles section, indicating the positions that interest you, the type of job being sought, the location, the industries, and the size of the company. Be as specific as you can in this area.
Once you have the basics down pat, you are able to begin to use LinkedIn as a tool. There are setting to change, adjustments to be made to the “public profile”, and much more.
In the 10+ years that I have been active on LinkedIn, I have seen countless changes that impact the user and specifically the job seeker. Not all have been positive in nature. Regardless, being equipped with the knowledge has allowed both myself and my clients to be successful on LinkedIn.
From LinkedIn: 2016