Working for a One-Stop career center, I’m often confronted by job seekers who haven’t used LinkedIn but know they must in order to shorten their job search. Some of them believe they should begin by writing a compelling profile which makes good sense. But is a profile alone enough?
Put yourself in my clients’ shoes; you’re starting with nothing. Of course you need to have a profile, and the best you might accomplish is copying and pasting your resume to your profile for the time being. First and foremost Sarah Johnston advises to create a strong headline:
The first thing a job seeker should do is to consider their headline to make sure that it delivers the most value. LinkedIn only gives you 120 characters for the headline. Make sure that you are maximizing those characters to the fullest with search terms. No recruiter is searching for #ONO or people open to new opportunities UNLESS they need a temp or contract worker for an immediate fill role. Use words that a recruiter would actually search for to find someone like you.
So where do you go from there? Perhaps just as important is inviting people to the party. In other words, building a targeted network of the most important tier of connections and expanding from there.
And equally important would be communicating with your network. After all, if you don’t engage, your out of sight out of mind. I know it sounds like a cliché but any LinkedIn expert will agree that engagement is key to your campaign.
I wanted to know what great LinkedIn minds think about how one should start and maintain their LinkedIn campaign. Here’s what they wrote:
A strong profile is necessary to start
Mark Anthony Dyson reminds us to make sure you have the basics in place, which are often overlooked. He says you headline drives visibility.
The focus of getting your LinkedIn profile to 100% accomplishes the purpose of a presence:
1) The completed profile gets favored over non-completed profiles in the LinkedIn algorithm. As soon as you complete it, the benefits will come quicker.
2) People will feel comfortable interacting and building a relationship with you.
3) Although it doesn’t have to be perfect, you do want to make sure the grammar is as accurate as possible. Typos and grammar errors de-appreciate the real estate your profile uses.
4) A customized URL for your profile ranks 1st in Google results. It will be the first thing people will see when your name is Googled. Your first impression is essential to reaping the benefits.
Your headline and summary drive your visibility. The headline catches the eye of the referrer and makes me want to read your summary. Optimize the character count of your headline on the mobile devices of 220 characters while the desktop limit to 120 characters. Focus on value rather than position because you can’t take your job with you. If your summary is the story you want employers and recruiters to know outside of your resume, the LinkedIn algorithm will embrace you.
Andy Foote says be deliberate when writing your profile. Do your research by looking at what others write.
Before you do anything with your own LinkedIn page, look around. Peruse a few career blogs, search on “LinkedIn” within them. Then spend half a day browsing LinkedIn, search on relevant hashtags like #linkedin and #linkedintips and #andydoeslinkedin (that last one is mine).
Look at as many profiles as you can and take notes, what do you think makes a “strong profile” and why? What elements do you need? What impresses you? What should you avoid doing? After you’ve thoroughly researched and made notes, roll your sleeves up and get to work on creating your new and refreshed LinkedIn presence.
Once you’ve finished, pick 5 people you trust and ask them for their honest opinion of your new profile page, take before and after screenshots if you really want to show them the transformation that has taken place. If they suggest changes, implement those if it makes sense to you to do so. Thank them for their feedback.
Understand that the LinkedIn profile is a living and breathing document, it needs to change as you change, so get into the habit of updating and tweaking it regularly. It is also a powerful networking device. Thousands of people will look at it over the course of your life!
Susan Joyce encourages new LinkedIn users to be cognizant of using keywords and making sure your profile is consistent with your resume.
Starting or Restarting LinkedIn
If you are new to LinkedIn or haven’t been active on LinkedIn while employed, start by building or updating your profile. A robust and focused LinkedIn profile is the foundation for a successful job search today. Know what you want to do next, and focus your LinkedIn profile to show you are qualified (very important keywords!). Then, add contact information and make your profile “public” in the privacy settings.
Recruiters rely on LinkedIn because your colleagues, family, and friends see your LinkedIn profile, so misrepresentations are less likely.
Your LinkedIn profile should support the claims made on your resume and demonstrate your understanding of the importance of online visibility. When your profile contains examples of related accomplishments demonstrating those qualifications, your claims of skills or expertise are more effective. Recommendations from former bosses, co-workers, and clients plus endorsements for those skills, increase your credibility (and keywords!).
The profile plus professional visibility in posts and comments are the foundation of your professional credibility. If you are employed, your LinkedIn profile and activities show management and colleagues your knowledge and expertise while, at the same time, attracting the attention of potential clients and, possibly, new employers (more keywords!).
Shelly Elsliger emphasizes using this time to have fun on LinkedIn and write your story to attract recruiters.
In the face of Covid-19, LinkedIn has become an even cooler space to hang out for both job seekers and recruiters. To continue a level of normalcy, in the face of uncertain times, LinkedIn has gained popularity because it does an amazing job at helping job seekers tell their career stories, showcase their brands, build their professional relationships, and find countless opportunities.
For recruiters, it is an ideal space to potentially find who they are actively searching for. However, there is a caveat; for employers to find the “best sellers,” they need to be able to successfully search and then decide which stories need to be explored further.
Therefore, it is necessary for job seekers to write their stories first because the story is what highlights relevant skills, experience, education, unique attributes, and personality characteristics of potential candidates. It also indicates to recruiters just how confident and invested job seekers are in relation to their professional brand. The LinkedIn story acts as the foundation to help build credibility, support activity, and deepen connection on LinkedIn
Virginia Franco states that engagement, not simply liking, as well as finding decision-makers at target companies are key to success.
Madeline Mann suggests starting with the profile basics and then reaching out to hiring managers at your target companies.
A great LinkedIn strategy is holistic, but the 3 factors that will dramatically outweigh the rest are your: photo, headline, and outreach strategy. Your headline should convey the value you add to the world by containing the same keywords that repeatedly appear in the job descriptions you are pursuing. If you are unsure how to uncover which keywords to include, follow these steps.
Next, your photo. It is important that you appear competent and likeable in your image. The biggest mistakes I see are selfies, poor lighting, and strange crops (cropping others out, making the crop to be your full body). Take the time to take a nice photo of yourself outside with your phone while dressed professionally, and then get feedback on Photo Feeler.
Finally, the outreach strategy. Contact people at your target companies. Focus on getting a referral or getting in contact with the hiring manager. It’s a common mistake to reach out to the recruiter because they have a flooded inbox and ultimately are not a decision-maker when it comes to choosing a candidate. For a deeper explanation of how to do this, including templates of what to say, you can go here.
Biron Clark advises to go the extra mile and impress hiring authorities with articles and long posts you’ve written on your subject matter.
If you want to stand out from other job seekers on LinkedIn, you have to do something they’re not doing! I’m talking about going the extra mile.
This doesn’t mean you should skip the basics, though. I recommend setting up a great profile first and focusing on the “quick wins”– areas that don’t take much time but get seen often and can have a big impact, namely your headshot, headline, most recent jobs, etc.
Here’s one idea that I strongly recommend: Write articles on LinkedIn about a topic related to your industry. They don’t have to be extremely long; 500-750 words are fine. Then pin your selected articles to LinkedIn’s Featured section.
When hiring managers see your profile, your selected articles that you’ve pinned to your profile might be the only one they’ve seen all day!
Anyone can do what I suggest, even a recent graduate or someone with just a couple of years of experience. Here’s an example:
Imagine you’ve worked in customer service for 9 months. That’s not much experience at all, right? Yet you could still write a 500-word piece on: “10 customer service phrases that calm angry customers and boost customer satisfaction ratings.”
Now, this would really show your expertise and impress hiring authorities.
Have an overall plan
Maureen McCann gives us a 5-step plan including a profile with strong SEO, being referred to people with whom you want to connect, and following a plan of attack.
𝐒𝐭𝐚𝐫𝐭 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐟𝐢𝐥𝐞. Think of this as your home page. This is where people go to learn more about you. It teaches others what you’re all about and whether they want to connect with you.
𝐘𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐡𝐞𝐚𝐝𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐩𝐡𝐨𝐭𝐨 𝐠𝐨 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐠𝐨 𝐨𝐧 𝐋𝐢𝐧𝐤𝐞𝐝𝐈𝐧. Invest time in getting these two things right because people will see these things before they ever read your profile.
𝐒𝐭𝐨𝐩 𝐰𝐚𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐞 𝐟𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐝. SEO is important if you want employers to find you, but why wait? Go out and find the people you want to meet. Use connections you already have to introduce you to connections you want to make. Don’t be shy. Ask for what you want. “Hey Bob, I see you know Oprah, I’d love it if you could introduce me?”
𝐄𝐧𝐠𝐚𝐠𝐞 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐬. Comment, discuss and ask questions. Follow the topics that most interest you. Employers are watching so be sure to be professional and refrain from complaining.
𝐇𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐚 𝐩𝐥𝐚𝐧.. Be consistent with what you share with your audience. Yes, you can have multiple interests and hobbies, but dedicate your LinkedIn profile to sharing content that both attracts employers and demonstrates the value of hiring you!
Adrienne Tom says to focus on building a robust profile, connecting with people of interest, and spending meaningful time on LinkedIn engaging with your connections.
You’ve heard it from some great LinkedIn minds giving their advice on how to start and continue on LinkedIn. Yes a profile is important, but so is building a network and engaging with your network. Don’t be like some of my clients; build your profile and wait for them (recruiters and other hiring authorities) to come.
In a poll I created recently, close to 750 people have weighed in on what they feel is most important to a LinkedIn campaign (the profile, building a network, engaging with your network, or all). Hustle over to the poll and cast your vote.