Social media, and LinkedIn in particular, has transformed how recruitment consultants discover potential candidates; as well as how job seekers showcase themselves to recruiters and employers.
In July 2013, LinkedIn reported it had more than 225 million profiles, 160 million of which were still active. This makes it extremely easy for your profile to become lost in the crowd if you don’t take steps to actively stand out. Thankfully, there is plenty you can do to make your profile more easily discoverable and more attractive to recruiters.
Completing your profile
Your profile is the hook to attract recruitment consultants or potential employers – so make sure it’s heavily baited with the juiciest information you have.
An incomplete LinkedIn profile is the equivalent to a resume with half the pages missing. The more information you include, the more likely your profile will appear when recruiters search for someone with your skills and background.
Include all your recent work history, at least four or five positions back. Job titles and employment details don’t say enough by themselves, though – a “customer-service manager” can mean many different things – so always use the “Description” field to give specific details on your responsibilities, skills and any notable achievements.
No matter how much information you add, a LinkedIn profile doesn’t look complete without a photo. Choose a professional-looking headshot, not a snap from a night out.
Your profile provides a field where you can enter a short summary as an introduction. It can take as many as 2,000 characters, never leave this blank. Think of it as your cover letter, where you can add personality to your qualifications, place some context around your career ambitions and, with any luck, stand out from the many other profiles and applications with similar skills and experience.
This is a great opportunity to tell your story and add information that doesn’t fit anywhere else. Give recruiters a glimpse of the real you so they might see you as someone worth meeting, with the personality and social skills that employers value.
Avoid generic cover-letter phrases such as, “I’m a committed and results-oriented individual with a strong work ethic.” Similar phrases appear in hundreds of other profiles and cover letters every day. So ditch the clichés and back up your statements with specific examples.
Many job seekers trip themselves up by incorrectly using long words or archaic grammar in an attempt to sound more professional. A good tip is to read your summary aloud. This will highlight unnatural and difficult phrases that get in the way of what you’re trying to say.
When recruiters search for potential candidates on LinkedIn, they may end up with hundreds of results. Very rarely will a recruiter peruse further than three pages of results (30 people), clicking through to a mere handful of profiles after only a few seconds of consideration of the scant details on display. These details include the name, profile picture and the headline. Therefore, a strong headline can make all the difference in convincing recruiters to click through to your profile.
The headline appears at the top of your profile, beneath your name, and defaults to your current job title(s). However, you can edit this field to include relevant keywords and any other job titles that may better describe your abilities or match what recruiters may search for. It’s worth spending a little time experimenting to come up with a headline that sells your profile as a must-see.
LinkedIn is far more than a job board, and your profile is far more than an online version of your resume. It is a massive community of professionals actively networking on a regular basis.
A typical recruitment consultant may have more than 1,000 first degree connections, meaning they have a network in the millions. Cultivate your own network by connecting with as many people as you can in your industry: coworkers, previous colleagues or even people you’ve met at conferences and networking events. The larger your network of connections becomes, the easier it is for recruiters to find you through their extended networks.
Recruitment consultants also use industry-themed LinkedIn groups to focus their search and discover influential or skilled experts. Sometimes they may post job ads directly into relevant groups to reach more of the right job seekers. So join a few groups related to your career interests and participate regularly in their discussions or other activities.
Cultivating your own LinkedIn network and developing an effective profile takes a while before it grows into a powerful career asset. Start working on your LinkedIn footprint now – even if you’re happily employed – instead of waiting until you’re eager for your next career move.