LinkedIn is the best database to identify, source, and curate talented professionals – globally. If you’re serious about your professional career, you can’t afford to ignore LinkedIn. At least not at this moment in time. If you do, you risk being off the radar in both the visible and hidden job markets.
As I come across quite a few reluctant LinkedIn debutantes, I asked my friend Sarah what she’d like to know about LinkedIn profiles.
Here are my responses to her questions:
How much information should you have in your profile?
Good fresh content, which incorporates relevant key words and phrases, helps people to find you on LinkedIn, and a complete profile* gives the best search results – for you and others. As a minimum, I suggest that you complete the following sections:
- Headline This your prime real estate. Along with a professional photo, this is your calling card, and follows you around LinkedIn. Think of the best words to describe your professional status, and be creative with the 120 characters available in this field – avoid the default to your current position.
- Contact Info Provide an email address, and add websites for your employer and related sites, including your own business or blog, if you have one! Change the jumble of letters and numbers of your profile URL to your name, or a close variation, if it’s already taken. (Go to edit public profile)
- Summary Use this section for a brief bio. As you have 2,000 characters available, showcase your personal brand, specific expertise and achievements.
- Experience Give a brief overview and list key achievements for each of your positions and employers over the past 10-15 years. Include industry and dates, and ensure job titles and content is generic enough to be understood by others, relevant to your profession and industry, and searchable. Include earlier positions if you’d like to come up in searches for that function, title or organisation.
- Education University qualifications and any professional learning & development with accreditation, can go here. Add other training in the Courses or Certifications sections.
- Skills & Expertise This data contributes to LinkedIn search results. Add up to 50 skills, competencies, and areas of expertise in this section. As visitors to your profile will be invited to endorse your skills and expertise, ensure they are relevant, and how you want to be known at this point in your career. Keep an eye on the feedback, and edit at any time.
- Groups Access discussions and new connections, by joining groups which relate to your professional interests. Recruiters often check out group conversations, jobs can be advertised, and special offers made to group members.
Put the most important details early in your profile, to grab the reader’s attention, and encourage them to keep scrolling down the page. The style and tone of writing can be less formal than your resume, so allow a little personality to shine!
What are headhunters looking for?
In-house corporate recruiters and headhunters look at various things on LinkedIn! They undertake searches by industry, specific companies, job title, function, key words and location. They want to read profiles which are clear, concise and articulate, and current. They check profile content, specifically experience, qualifications, areas of expertise and achievements – and level of activity and engagement. As well as identifying potential candidates for roles (that may not have been advertised), recruiters also note who you’re connected to on LinkedIn.
Who should you accept invitations from?
The spirit of LinkedIn is to connect with trusted professionals, for mutual benefit. As you think about your strategy, it’s worth keeping in mind that your 1st level connections, as part of your ‘inner sanctum’, can view one another. If you’re unsure about an invitation, sit on it for a while, or ignore it – which means it will be filed in your archive for another day. And if you’re extending an invitation to someone, tailor the message.
What shouldn’t you do?
To give yourself some peace of mind, don’t forget to visit and check each of the privacy and communications settings. And before you edit your profile, turn off your broadcasts. Google loves LinkedIn, so your profile may be the first thing people read when search for your name. Curate your content, post updates, and engage with others professionally. If you’re inviting someone to join your LinkedIn network, avoid the default and customise your message, and only use the ‘Friend’ option if applicable. And to get the most from LinkedIn, don’t neglect your profile – post updates and keep the content current. Recruiter and potential employers are watching and forming an opinion of you. Follow these LinkedIn basics, and you’re well in the way to getting your profile in shape, and leveraging the power of social media to manage your career.