LinkedIn – if you’re not on it properly, that’s a critical condition also known as “how not to land the role you want”.
In my previous article I went through some inside tips and tricks to getting yourself into that new job you’ve always wanted. Now I’m going to give you some tips on sprucing up your online self with a strategic LinkedIn profile, showing why you are the one that coveted employer needs to have in their team.
Alpha Resumes has a handy LinkedIn Cheat Sheet here with some top tips to think about when developing your LinkedIn profile, and, together with that the following, could help you land that next perfect role. All you’ll need is a bit (well, a lot) of typing and thinking.
Giving yourself an online makeover is an involved process, so I’m going to tackle it in two parts. In Part 1, we’ll look at experience, education, certifications, photos and some general tips on getting it all together. Then, after building the skeleton of your profile, in Part 2 we’ll put the muscles on by walking through the “About” and “Skills” sections. While shorter, they are critical.
I’ll also take you through the all important ATS-busting tips on how to make your profile really stand out so you can beat the automated gatekeepers and safely get through to human eyes.
So, there’s a lot to absorb, but persevere to the end and it could pay off handsomely for you!
But why try? Isn’t LinkedIn just Facebook for corporates?
Not at all! Whilst LinkedIn is great for connecting with people you’ve worked with, it’s so much more. Employers are increasingly using it to assess and search for new candidates. If your profile isn’t sparkling it won’t speak to those prospective employers or recruiters. A poor LinkedIn presence equals poor prospects. And even worse, if you have no profile, you’ve mastered what spies have long tried to be: invisible! While that’s a great skill for a job with ASIO, it could kill your chances of landing that dream role.
So, whether you’re using LinkedIn already, or yet to take the plunge, there’s a stack of things you’ll need to do to maximise your prospects of firstly getting found and secondly getting remembered. So, get your CV out, freshen it up, load up your profile, and we’ll go through them carefully together and get you looking enticing to employers.
It’s more than just a date
Starting with the bleeding obvious, LinkedIn will ask you to identify the start and end dates of each of your jobs. Month and year is necessary, as it will show employers exactly how long you’ve spent in a role. Including just the year will make it look like you’ve got gaps you’re plastering over.
So here’s the thing….
This is where LinkedIn can get tricky – if you’ve had some time out of the game, a gap becomes obvious. And employers, like nature and flatmates, abhor a vacuum. If you do have a career gap, be sure to explain why. If it was for extended travel for example, put that in. If it was for an involuntary break, think back to what you were doing then – did you complete any courses? Any volunteering? These can show an employer giving you the once over that you know how to make the best use of whatever life throws at you.
It’s also very important to have a current role listed – you won’t reach “All Star” status with LinkedIn (yes, they seriously have such a rating) unless you include a current role. Now if you’re currently at leisure during working hours, think about completing a course or doing something in the community that could be of benefit.
But wait there’s more
Be sure to include your education – not as far back as primary school, but go back as far as you need to go to show you have the skills required for the role you’re hankering after. If the education is relevant but not recent, omit the dates.
However, just like Goldilocks the balance has to be just right – don’t go so far back you look dated or show your age if you’re at the more senior end of your career, but nonetheless enough to paint a picture of the perfect you.
Anything you can’t do I can do better
There’s also a section for all your licences and certifications, like your Construction White Card, EWP ticket, or anything and everything that allows you to do things that others can’t. Even that First Aid Course or Working with Children Check can be included.
If you’re in education or writing, there are place to include your publications. And if you’re in the fine arts line or a role with a portfolio, there are even places you can link to your samples of your work.
But no matter who you are, there’s one more thing all profiles need….
The Ultimate Selfie
On LinkedIn you’ll need a good, clear, professional looking headshot. It doesn’t have to be a formal studio portrait by a professional – just find an empty, light coloured wall with no marks, and a good light source, and get a friend to take a shot on their phone or digital camera. Make sure there’s no dark spots or uneven shadows. Good, clean, even lighting is critical. Focus on getting from just below your shoulder line upwards into the frame in a nice balanced picture. Consider removing your glasses, as they’ll reflect too much light.
Wear what you’d wear to work – if you’re usually out on site, flash that hi-vis. If you’re in an office gig, a jacket and tie (if you’re of the tie wearing variety) or a good shirt and a jacket (if you’re not). Look cool, calm and collected – no grins or laughing smiles. A warm, open and confident looking expression will exude all the features your future employer is looking for.
There’s also filtering options that come up before you hit “post” on your profile pic, so make use of them and get the lighting and the tones just right.
And no actual selfies – the angle is all wrong. And no photos from your best mate’s wedding – that sparkly wine glass in your hand may spell au revoir for a serious employer.
Which brings me to my next point.
You change your clothes every season, so change your online ones too!
Don’t use a photo that doesn’t look like the you that you are now. If you’ve cut your hair a foot shorter, or given the beard the flick, get a new photo. You don’t want to surprise your potential boss with a you that doesn’t match the you they’re expecting to see.
It also pays to tweak your profile text every 6 months or so with a new skill you’ve picked up in your current role, or even just rearrange some words in a section, because search engines and the web crawlers’ recruiters use will often pick up on this activity.
A word of caution though: be very careful not to disclose sensitive or confidential information anywhere on your profile – use neutral language that expresses the skill without the full pack drill of names and places. Remember, LinkedIn is public, everyone will see your profile, including your current employer, so play it safe and be discreet.
But you said it wasn’t like Facebook
Well, there is one way it is. LinkedIn isn’t just people, it’s groups as well. It pays to join professional groups that are relevant to your industry. There’s a spot for those on your profile, and it’s a hook that recruiters and employers will use to locate people with skills they’re after.
Following organisations and groups that relate to your industry means they’ll show up on your profile. That can be a helpful marker to the person eyeing you off against other candidates. But be judicious – don’t follow everyone and everything in sight. Pick the key ones that are relevant to your background or the role you’re after. But be discerning. Less is more. But too few is fatal. Argh! I hear you growl. “So how many am I supposed to have then?!”
Well this is where Goldilocks gets another mention – it’s all about getting that golden mean happening. There is a huge “hidden job market” out there for roles that never even make it on to the recruiter’s desk, because employers often use networks and connections to fill roles directly. So strategically connect with people you’ve worked with who could introduce you to people at other companies, or connect with stakeholders you’ve struck along the way in your career. This way, you can expand your network with a clear purpose in mind.
Strategic is the key here – don’t just accept everyone who wants to connect. Think about those who can help you on to the next role and give you the links and exposure you need, and then go for it. Quality connections are paramount.
You just said less is more. So why is there more?
Yes, there is more. A lot more. The most crucial two parts of your LinkedIn profile are the “About” section and the “Skills” section. They’re tough to do well, and in Part 2 we’ll look at breaking down these tasks into manageable chunks so that when you’re done with your online self, you’ll have the best possible profile you can present. So, come back for Part 2 where we’ll look at how to complete the “About” and “Skills” sections, along with some final tips to make your profile truly sing your praises.
And if you can’t wait till then, give us a call or get in touch today. We’ll dig deep in our discovery process and build you a new set of documents that extract the essence of you that employers want to meet.
Let us renovate your resume and the online you, and we’ll leave you in the best position to land that next position.