LinkedIn could be one of your best job-search strategies right now, provided you have more than a bare-bones LinkedIn Profile. Hiring managers and recruiters are searching LinkedIn Profiles for job candidates more than ever before because it is cost-effective and typically yields higher quality candidates than the general job boards like Monster and CareerBuilder.
LinkedIn statistics reveal that nearly half of the 66 million+ LinkedIn members are from the United States and account for more than 42 percent of the global LI traffic. Only a little more than 5 years old, LinkedIn has become a hot social networking tool for professionals worldwide, whether employed or unemployed.
So what does it take to get noticed by an employer or recruiter? Here are seven tips to turn your plain-vanilla LI Profile into a showstopper:
- Focus – Identify your specific job target / career field; be sure to include the job title and industry. Hiring managers think in terms of job titles, not ambiguous statements like “I would like a people-oriented job using my communications abilities”. Customize the content of your LI Profile with skills, keywords, and experience relevant to your target job and industry. The right keywords are essential for search engine optimization (SEO) so you can be found in a search for a specific job opening by an employer or recruiter.
- Personal Branding – Ramp up your LI Profile with your personal brand. A clear and compelling personal branding statement, which gets at the heart of who you really are and what you uniquely have to offer, can take your LI Profile beyond bland and boring to set you apart from everyone else. Expressing your authentic personal brand makes it easier for a prospective employer to see how you might fit in with the existing team and company culture.
- Quantified Accomplishments – Demonstrate a positive and relevant track record with value-add for the employer through quantified achievements. Rather than just listing job duties and responsibilities, show how you made a difference in the job; for example, “Eliminated two-year backlog in accounts receivable within 60 days by transitioning from manual to online accounting system”. Your LI Profile must establish your value and pre-qualify you in the employer’s eyes for an interview. So, add accomplishments to answer the potential interview question, “Why should I hire you?”
- Connections – Do you have a network of one person? Flesh out your LI presence with at least 100 networking connections. In addition to college chums and professors, friends and family, and former / current colleagues, reach out to individuals in your targeted industries and professional field, as well as allied industries and fields. Look to the future and where you want your career to go; then go after contacts and connections in those professional arenas and industries.
- Recommendations – Select 5-10 individuals to recommend you. Prepare them to deliver a top-notch recommendation that illustrates your personal brand in action and highlights selected accomplishments. After you get confirmation that your recommenders are willing to help you, do not sit back and just hope the recommendations will be good. Assist them in the process of writing a value-driven recommendation. Provide them with an up-to-date resume chock-full of accomplishments, and then call each recommender to discuss how more specific, detailed examples might be incorporated in their recommendation.
- Groups – Join 5-10 groups in your targeted industries (such as green technology or social media marketing), profession (such as civil engineering or pharmaceutical sales), and professional and trade associations. Show that you are serious about your targeted career choice and industry by actively participating in groups (for example, answer and ask questions, connect with group members, and offer links to resources of use to the entire group).
- Photo – Upload a professional-looking headshot for your LinkedIn Profile. This is non-negotiable. A LI Profile without a photo has little credibility. What is worse is a photo that damages your reputation, such as that party pic of you acting outrageously. Even a non-controversial photo can be ineffective if it does not show a close-up of your face. Think about your personal brand – what is the image and gut-level feeling you want your photo to convey?
Of course, you will want to use correct grammar and spelling throughout your LI Profile. Poor grammar and misspellings are the most-quoted reasons why employers eliminate a resume from consideration. So, wouldn’t this also hold true for your LI Profile?
Finally, for those of you in the job-seeking mode, check out Guy Kawasaki’s blog post Ten Ways to Use LinkedIn to Find a Job. While written more than a year ago, the tips listed are still powerful job-search tools that leverage LinkedIn’s ever-expanding capabilities and resources.
Turn your bare-bones LI Profile into a show-stopper. Go beyond getting noticed to getting interviews. Actively use LinkedIn to build and grow your professional networking connections, gain inside knowledge about job leads and companies, and secure interviews. If what you have been doing in your job search is not working for you and you have not gotten any interviews in months (maybe even a year or more), what have you got to lose for trying?