LinkedIn is where professionals go to see and be seen and to network and exchange ideas. It’s where companies go to find employees and to perform preliminary background checks. It is also the largest online professional network in the world. It has over 300 million members, with 100 million of those residing in the United States. According to the company, two new members join the network every second, and in 2013, executives from every Fortune 500 company were LinkedIn members.
According to William Arruda, a personal branding expert and regular contributor to Forbes, someone is always searching LinkedIn for the type of service that you provide. Arruda says that hiring managers used to employ job listings, but it is becoming more common to only use sites like LinkedIn to find what they need.
So if you’re not on LinkedIn, recruiters and potential clients won’t find you. And your glaring absence from the network can cast doubt on your legitimacy as a professional as well as skepticism regarding your ability to keep up with technology.
However, you can’t just upload your resume to LinkedIn and go on your merry way. You have to take the time to build a profile page that emphasizes your strengths, education and talents and helps companies and clients understand that you’re the missing link they need to succeed.
Creating the Type of LinkedIn Profile That Gets Results!
- Heading – The top of your LinkedIn profile page should include your name, a subheading that adequately describes your career status, your location and a professional photo of yourself. For example: “Bob Smith, Results-Driven Marketing Research Analyst, Cincinnati, OH.” A professional photo does not mean that you need to have it taken at a photography studio. A self-portrait taken with a camera on your Smartphone will suffice. However, this shouldn’t be a photo of you with your spouse or your bowling team, and it shouldn’t be a photo of you drinking at a bar.
- Resume Upload – While you can upload your resume to LinkedIn, your profile should be much more thorough and informative. Usually, the length of a resume should be as brief as possible to retain the attention of recruiters. However, companies want to learn more about you when viewing your LinkedIn profile. So take this opportunity to not only list your education and job history but also your major accomplishments along the way. LinkedIn also provides places for you to upload supporting documents such as videos, links to published articles and other relevant documents that can make you stand out from your peers.
- Your Interests – In addition, there are sections for you to list interests and causes. This is a great opportunity to add volunteer experience, which will make you appear to be a more well-rounded candidate. You may not think that it is important to list your volunteer activities, but according to an article in The Washington Post, when two candidates were equally qualified for a certain position, the hiring manager, who was an animal lover, selected the applicant who volunteered at an animal rescue shelter.
- Negative Information – However, be careful about listing polarizing interests and causes. For example, if you’re a member of an association in favor of legalizing hardcore drugs, or if you’re the President of Dead-Beat-Dads of Detroit, you might not want to include that type of information.
- Keywords – Recruiters and potential clients often use “keywords” when searching for candidates. For example, if you’re a logistician, industry-specific keywords would include, “supply-chain,” “distribution logistics,” “reverse logistics,” and “procurement logistics.” You may be the best logistician in the Northeast, but if someone is searching using these keywords, you may never be found if you don’t use these terms when describing your work experience, which we call your “value-add product.”
- Recommendations – Now, recruiters and clients aren’t going to just take your word for it when you declare that you’re the greatest executive since Warren Buffett or Jack Welch. But they will believe other LinkedIn members who say the same thing. Fortunately, LinkedIn includes a section on your profile page for recommendations from former bosses, colleagues, clients and others who are qualified to describe you professionally. You simply send a LinkedIn “inmail” to the person you’re requesting a recommendation from, and they can click on the link to either cut and paste or type in their comments. LinkedIn will also send you a final version of the recommendation and ask if you want to accept and post, or reject these comments from your connections.
- Connections – More Is Better In a Job Search – Speaking of connections, once you join LinkedIn, you’ll be allowed to search for other LinkedIn members and send them invitations to connect with you. The importance of connections cannot be overemphasized. From college friends to former colleagues and bosses to church members and neighbors, your connections are an invaluable source for job openings and introductions. For example, let’s say you sent a resume to a Fortune 100 company and never got a response, but then you notice that your next-door-neighbor is connected on LinkedIn to the HR manager for this company. It turns out the two were fraternity brothers in college, so now you get your next-door-neighbor to call the HR manager and put in a good word for you.
- Group Contributions – Recruiters also look for well-rounded candidates, and LinkedIn provides the perfect avenue for you to showcase your skills and talents. The network has various industry-specific groups for members to join. By consistently contributing thoughtful, relevant and helpful content to these group discussions, your comments may attract the attention of a recruiting manager – or perhaps, even the company’s CEO!
Do I Have An Effective Profile? – However, for your profile to be truly effective, you need to know the answers to the following questions:
- How can I be seen by the right target audience?
- What causes someone to want to connect with me, and why?
- What is my value-add proposition?
- How do I convey my value-add proposition?
- How do the “right” recruiters and companies find me?
- How are companies screening and using my LinkedIn profile?
The purpose of LinkedIn is to “see and be seen.” This involves three components:
VISIBILITY: To be “seen” and cause an action to take place as a result of viewing your profile is the only purpose for being on LinkedIn.
TACTICS: Whether or not you are found or “seen” on LinkedIn depends upon your LinkedIn site design.
ACTION: Interviews you secure from someone reading your LinkedIn profile are based upon your content, your value-add proposition, your references, your participation in the right groups, and your marketing strategy. You want people to contact you.
“The real reason for being on LinkedIn is to have the ‘right’ people act upon your profile, and have them contact you for a job interview, period! Whether or not they do that depends entirely upon how your profile is structured, your value-add content and your online and LinkedIn marketing tactics.” Fred Coon, CEO, SC&C
LinkedIn Strategies & Tactics That Work
Strategies and tactics that will produce results require a comprehensive knowledge of how LinkedIn really works. These are just a few of the areas that require proper management:
- Accurate and focused keyword selection
- Correct keyword placement
- Well-planned & executed networking strategies
- Automated LinkedIn and email alerts
- Target “push” tactics that are well-designed and executed
- Exceptional, metric-driven content
- Meaningful references
- Tier-2 contact building tactics
- Comprehensive social media strategy
If your LinkedIn profile accomplishes all of this, you are probably already receiving multiple offers that are above your financial expectations. If not, contact Stewart, Cooper & Coon to help you craft a LinkedIn profile and branding strategy that can help you obtain multiple interviews, shorten your job search and receive multiple offers.