Why LinkedIn? It’s a critical piece of your professional branding. I believe your resume is your single-most important career document, but LinkedIn works in tandem with your resume—and your job search. Conveying your value through LinkedIn increases your reach to connections and potential employers. This is why it’s super important to be active and be visible!
Is your LinkedIn profile up to date with your current information and accomplishments? And, are you using the platform to your advantage in your job search?
Whether you are in private sector, public sector, or the Federal government… having an updated LinkedIn profile, and being active on the platform, can be powerful in advancing your career or help you in navigating a successful job search.
Update and optimize your LinkedIn profile!
First things first. If your LinkedIn profile is outdated or inconsistent with the résumé you submitted to apply for the job, recruiters and hiring managers might be confused. And it could raise red flags for them. That’s not a great way to start your relationship. And confusing key decision makers can often mean you will be passed over for opportunities that may have been perfect for you!
Include your professional headshot on LinkedIn.
Research by LinkedIn has shown that including a professional headshot in your profile makes your profile 14 times more likely to be viewed by other people, and 36 times more likely for you to receive a message to connect.
With that in mind, here are some tips for choosing the right headshot to use:
1. Make sure you choose a photo that looks like you! This might seem obvious… but the last thing you want is to show up to an interview and confuse the hiring team by perhaps looking 10 or 20 years older. 😉
2. Use a photo that you did not take yourself. That’s right—no selfies. If you can afford to have professional photos taken, that’s great! If not, just have somebody else take the picture for you and frame your face in the headshot so you can be recognized.
3. Have a professional expression. Remember, your LinkedIn headshot is your representation for your digital professional network. And, for what it’s worth, this study of 800 profile pictures found that people view you as more likable, competent, and influential if you smile in your pic.
4. Crop your headshot. Try to have your face take up more than 60% of the frame. The goal is for your network to know what you look like….and that’s difficult to do if you have a full body shot, and your face is tiny!
5. No distracting backgrounds! You want the focus to be on YOU—not the world around you so make sure the background of your photo isn’t busy, with too many objects or colors. The more neutral the background it, the better.
Make sure your headline is current.
Another way to optimize your LinkedIn profile is to make sure that your LinkedIn headline is reflective of your current job target and conveys what you can do for the employer. You’ll want to keep it simple. You’ll want to be clear, concise, and compelling. But also, don’t be afraid to be a little bit boastful!
MAGNETIC TIP: Your headline is likely the first thing that people will read, and it has been found that the keywords in your headline are weighed more heavily that other areas of your profile. It’s how you get found so choose your words wisely.
Write a compelling “About” summary.
You get 2,600 characters to summarize what you can do for the employer and the first sentence is probably the most important. You’ll want to capture the attention of the reader, so you may want to start with a memorable opening sentence. You’ll also want to explain your current role within your current company (if applicable), showcase the problems you solve and demonstrate your skills and industry knowledge. Most important, write about the things that set you apart from other candidates. What is your unique value proposition?
Include accomplishments in your Experience section.
Your experience section should show your career progression. Hiring managers and recruiters want to see the roles you’ve held, at the various companies or agencies you’ve worked at… but more than that, they want to know what you accomplished. So, refrain from just highlighting the laundry list of your duties and responsibilities. People want to know how you’ve actually made an impact in the roles that you’ve had.
Ask for and give recommendations.
A recommendation can be anything from a word of praise for work you’ve done to a compliment from a current (or past) coworker, or even words of appreciation from a vendor or a client, written by another LinkedIn member.
You can request these recommendations from your first degree connections, specifically people you work with or have worked with. These are like real-time references and can be super valuable. Showcase the results of a project, how much money you saved the company or agency, how much money you made the company, how you increased productivity, or improved morale.
MAGNETIC TIP: Sometimes it’s easier to ask for a recommendation after you’ve written one for someone else first!
For more information on the fundamentals of how to give or ask for recommendation, check out LinkedIn’s help page.
Be active on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn, as with all social platforms, rewards activity! So even if you take just 5-10 minutes a day, there a lot of things you can do that will increase your visibility. Choose a time that works best for you and perhaps set a reminder to get on LinkedIn and even a timer so you can log out and get back to your work—unless you are unemployed and you are in an assertive job search.
Write and post an article to showcase your knowledge.
Writing and posting articles and other valuable content on LinkedIn positions you as a thought leader in your industry. And doing this regularly will create trust and interest with your connections and can even help them see you as an expert on your topics. Publishing original content is amazing if you can do that, but even just sharing relevant articles will create interest within your network.
Update your status—start a post.
This is so simple, and only takes seconds to do! Posting an update can include almost anything. Sharing an article (see above) is just one of many things you can do for your LinkedIn status. You can share an inspirational quote. You can share something you’ve learned recently—from a book you’re reading, an industry event you’ve attended, or even just what you’ve been up to! Try not to overthink it… just be present.
Engage with someone else’s post.
Like. Comment. Boom. Done. Did you know that even something as simple as LIKING someone else’s post can expand your visibility to your second and third degree networks? It’s true. Just spend a few minutes looking at your Feed on your homepage (or the app, if you’re on a mobile device), and you might see several unfamiliar names and faces that you see liking and commenting on that person’s post.
Commenting on other people’s posts may even prompt other people to connect with you… and now you’re not just engaging, but you’re also growing your network!
Ask a question or create a poll.
Are you doing research for a project? Do you want to take a survey on a topic? Asking questions or creating polls will encourage other people to engage with you! And again, all of this engagement is only going to expand your visibility to your connections, as well as hiring managers and recruiters.
Bonus: Watching the reactions and comments to a question or a poll is entertaining and educational! You’re going to learn new things and hear alternative points of views from the people in your network. I highly recommend it.
Utilize the tools LinkedIn provides for you.
Lastly, LinkedIn is an incredible tool when it comes to gaining traction in your job search.
Use the search function. You can utilize LinkedIn’s Search function to find possible connections and even key decision makers within companies or federal agencies that you might want to work for. You can create a target company list and get to work on connecting, building your network, and positioning yourself for the job or promotion!
Find Jobs. You can use the Jobs feature to find job opportunities that might be of interest to you. Not only can you search for jobs, but you can save jobs, set up job alerts, and apply for jobs through LinkedIn.
Join Groups. There are over TWO MILLION groups on LinkedIn! Find some groups with like-minded professionals where you can engage, ask questions, and share best practices to advance your career or get traction in your job search. You can search for groups by interest, industry, profession, and more. Just type in your keyword and see what pops up.
MAGNETIC TIP: Look for groups where members are actively engaged and you see recent activity!
So, are you ready?
Choose one place to start and watch how your optimized LinkedIn profile starts serving you better.
And if you need help updating and optimizing the content on your LinkedIn profile even more, we’d love to help!
But in the meantime, I’d love to know what you’re going to do first to become more active and more visible on LinkedIn. Will you comment below and let me know?
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