It’s a fact that if you hire 10 resume writers to write your resume, you’ll get 10 different resumes. It’s also a fact that there are some traits of a resume that are universal. In other words, they are a staple of a resume.
The most obvious traits begin with a Summary statement that effectively expresses the value a job candidate will deliver to employers. Skills/Core Competencies required for the job at hand follow. Of course a value-rich Experience section and Education piece complere the resume. Or is Education placed at the beginning?
Bonus: a great resume writer will most likely include a headline or branding statement at the top of the resume. This is one addition that will give their clients a foot up on the competition.
In a poll I conducted on LinkedIn, some of the best resume writers weighed in on what they consider to make an outstanding resume. I presented two resume groups, both containing some do’s, as well as some don’ts and asked which one they would select.
Thinking that most of them wouldn’t go with Resume A or Resume B, I gave them the option to choose Resume C, which essentially meant they could create a stellar resume based on the traits of the first two. They could also add others. Here are the two groups I presented:
Resume A must:
Brand a candidate with a value proposition or headline
Contain accomplishment statements with quantified results
Be no longer than one page
Have the Education section near the top
Utilize graphics and color
Resume B must:
Be readable with paragraphs no longer than 3 or 4 lines
Consist of bullets only, as they make a resume easier to read
Include a candidate’s entire work history
List the candidate’s home address in the Contact Info
Be written in sans serif font
Resume C must (voters could customize their idea of a stellar resume)
Surprisingly, only 39% of the voters chose Resume C; Resume A edged out Resume C with 43% favoring this group. Resume B only garnered 18% of the voters.
I was one of 101 commenters who added my two cents. I chose Resume C with the following traits:
Brand a candidate with a value proposition or headline. This is a two-line statement that includes the title from a job add and below that some areas of expertise.
Contain accomplishment statements with quantified results. Agreed, not always possible to quantify results with #s, $s, and %s but they have more bite to them.
Be as long as warranted, all within 15 years. If you have all accomplishments, your resume can be as long as three pages. Acceptation to the 15-year rule would executive-level job seekers.
Utilize graphics and color is appropriate. Graphics appeal to hiring authorities like visuals. However, applicant tracking systems (ATS) don’t digest them well.
Be readable with paragraphs no longer than 3 or 4 lines. No one likes to read 10-line paragraphs. Shorter ones are more digestible.
Be written in sans serif font. Arial and Calibri are most common these days. Times New Roman dates you.
Include in contact info your name, professional email address, LinkedIn URL, cell phone. Key is a professional email address that includes your whole name, not something like email@example.com.
Must be ATS friendly. The only way to ensue this is by tailoring your resume to each job. A tailored resume will include the necessary keywords.
The fact that people were torn between Resume A group and creating their own Resume C group is telling. Maybe the traits of Resume A are acceptable, almost preferable. I found the one-page rule, for example, unacceptable. And placing Education at the top? This doesn’t apply for all people.
I decided to include in this article what some of the voters added in comments for this poll. You can read what others said by going to the poll.
One Size Doesn’t Fit All. Have them at hello from the top part, would they want to continue reading? Hook them 👇 Use the marketing commercial of 10 secs to get them hooked and call you.
Less is more, make them curious to call you but don’t leave [out] crucial info related to JD. The education section depends on job descriptions and career level. Personal preferences here. The recruitment industry wants education on top. Coaches customize based on client’s experience and job descriptions.
I can find potential hang-ups with both A and B, depending on the person and their career level. For example, a senior-level professional wouldn’t showcase their Education section near the top of the file (nor should they), and not everyone needs to stick to 1-page.
Listing a complete work history may not be relevant. Ultimately, how your resume looks and is formatted all ‘depends’. You are unique. Therefore, your resume will be too.
I’m not really a fan of ‘musts’ for a resume, except for this one: a resume must be relevant to the position you are applying to. All the other details are subjective and variable, depending on how relevant the information is to the position.
These are some great examples of things that CAN be included, and some typically and probably should be included, while others can be used less often.
Every person is different. They deserve a resume that highlights what’s most valued about them. Some people have recent and relevant education, so if that was the case, I’d highlight that. Other people might have direct work experience. For them, I’d highlight their work experience, skills and time spent in the industry.
First “There is no one-size-fits-all” when it comes to writing a resume. Both use strong resume writing principles. I could use several strategies from Resumes A and B. It depends on the role and industry. The “No one-size-fits-all” principle is different from essential components of a resume which should have the right: 1. Content 2. Format 3. Design.
I’m with you Derrick Jones, CPRW/CEIP. Everything depends on the story and the job target. All my resumes, however, contain a headline and summary, and are designed to be read on mobile just as easily as in print.
My sister paints. I write. Sometimes we explain how we do what we do to each other, but we both know we’re only scratching the surface. A resume “should” be written by someone who wants to tell a story in a way that will make others want to read it. If you let that be your guiding principal, you will write a good resume.
I agree with Donna, a resume “should” be written by someone who wants to tell a story in a way that will make others want to read it. Also, Adrienne has a great point, “Ultimately, how your resume looks and is formatted all ‘depends’. You are unique.” A lot of misleading data out there, which makes it difficult for the job seeker today. 🤷♀️
👉🏻Brand a candidate with a headline, tag line and value proposition. 👉🏻Focus in accomplishments and quantify the results. 👉🏻As long as needed, but make sure to highlight the last 7-12 years, and have the rest just form the foundation of the career. Exception to this is an early career success that is truly impressive.
👉🏻 Leverage graphics and color as appropriate. 👉🏻Consumable content with paragraphs no longer than 3 or 4 lines and bullets at 1-2 lines preferably. 👉🏻Use a sans serif font. Contact info Name, email address, and create hyperlinks for the LinkedIn URL and cell phone.
The biggest thing is that these are all just general guidelines. A great resume reflects the candidate, targets their career goals, and speaks to the hiring authority managing an open position at a desired employer.
Many job seekers are confused by the misleading data out there on 1 page resumes and ATS-friendly to the extent that they eliminate marketability of the resume. The reality is that focusing on telling your story is key to creating readability and enthusiasm for you as the candidate. I agree with Erin Kennedy, MCD, CERW, CMRW, NCOPE, CEMC, CPRW that all bullets or all paragraphs makes for a dull and boring resume.
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Guest writer and recruiter Jeff Lipschultz is a 20+ year veteran in management, hiring, and recruiting of all types of business and technical professionals. He has worked in industries ranging from telecom to transportation to dotcom.
With all the rage around social media in job searching, LinkedIn stands out as the tool of choice for many recruiters to connect with job seekers (or future job seekers). Knowing how recruiters use the tool may shed some light on how to leverage LinkedIn in your own job search efforts.
Granted, good recruiters use many social media tools to find candidates, like Facebook and Twitter. However, LinkedIn.com is the largest social network for professionals. LinkedIn provides the best avenue for a recruiter to quickly learn enough about a person to see if they should be contacted for a particular job opening.
Candidates need to leverage LinkedIn as much as possible to be included in these searches.
1. Have a large LinkedIn network
To be found on LinkedIn, you need to have a large network because…
LinkedIn search results are limited to those accounts which are the searcher’s first, second, and third level connections. If you aren’t connected to someone at one of those levels, you won’t appear in their search results.
Although many recruiters know how to search for candidates who are outside their own LinkedIn three degrees of connectivity or pay LinkedIn for that access, not all do. Therefore, the more people you are connected to, the more likely you may be connected to recruiters.
Many recruiters, especially independent recruiters who don’t work for a single employer, love invites to your network, too. Don’t be afraid to ask recruiters to join your network — they may be unable to ask you to join their network because of LinkedIn’s built-in rules.
2. Use the right keywords to describe yourself
When recruiters search for candidates in LinkedIn, they focus on keywords just like the resume databases and applicant tracking systems do. Without the right keywords, your LinkedIn Profile will not be found.
Your LinkedIn Professional Headline is the perfect place to include the right keywords for your job search. Be specific to attract recruiter attention.
No one searches for a “business professional” but they do search for a “marketing manager who understands how to leverage social media for B2B visibility and sales.” So, avoid being too general — general headlines will not be impressive or contain the right keywords.
There are also ample opportunities to sprinkle in your key abilities and skills within the Summary and Experience sections. Every job you list should include the expertise that you demonstrated in that job. Think keywords!
Prove that the keywords you have used to describe yourself are accurate.
LinkedIn offers many opportunities to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise, including these five:
⏩ LinkedIn recommendations
Having recommendations within LinkedIn is a nice way to convey you are a quality candidate. But having more than two from each job looks like you are just asking everyone you know for a recommendation. This can diminish the value of the best and most articulate recommendations you have.
So, unless you have been in one job for many years, two short recommendations are best.
Recruiters sometimes ask for references who are not included on LinkedIn, so be prepared for that request.
If you publish a blog, include it in your Profile. Add it to the contact information near the top of your Profile. Click on the “See contact info” link near the top of your Profile, and then click on the pencil icon in the dialog box that pops open to add and edit the information.
Having a blog included on your Profile adds to your credibility, too. You can show off your technical knowledge and insights as well as your writing skills.
Similarly, you can use another application, SlideShare (which is owned by LinkedIn), to post a PowerPoint presentation on related subject matter. Link those SlideShare pages to your LinkedIn Profile. These will catch the eye of the recruiter, and provide more information about you and the knowledge and skills your presentations demonstrate.
⏩ LinkedIn posts
This may look a bit like Facebook’s news feed, but remember that it is NOT!
Keep in mind that LinkedIn is NOT Facebook, and should not be the place where you share photos of you and your child playing in the snow (unless taking care of children is your profession) or making political statements.
Use Status Updates in your Profile to share good relevant news and other helpful information, including:
Share good information posted by other professionals on LinkedIn, whether as a “post” (short discussion in the news feed) or as articles they publish on LinkedIn.
Share important happenings in your industry, and whenever you publish an article, are quoted in someone else’s article, or receive other positive visibility, share that as well.
Share images, videos, or documents you upload.
Link to good information you find (understand the LinkedIn does not distribute links to external websites as generously as it distributes content inside of LinkedIn).
Of course, if you are actively looking for a new job (and are unemployed so you safely can announce this), feel free to post a status of exactly the type of job you’re looking for.
Also, check the “Notifications” stream, and “Like” or share good information shared by others. When appropriate, comment on the others’ posts (positively and professionally, not negatively or nastily).
Currently, every LinkedIn member can belong to as many as 100 Groups, and over 2.1 million Groups exist.
You can be found more easily if you are a member of LinkedIn Groups for your specialty (i.e., .NET, SQL Server, Flex, Information Architects).
LinkedIn will suggest Groups for you to join if you click on the “Work” link at the top of your Profile, which opens the dialog box shown on the left here.
As the image on the left shows, you can also find Groups to join by clicking on the “Groups” icon in the options that drop down when you click on the “Work” icon at the top, right of most LinkedIn pages.
Recruiters love to scan discussions on topics related to positions they are working on in order to find “subject-matter experts.” Posting good information or making well-informed comments on Discussions in Groups relevant to your profession, industry, or, even, location can bring you to the attention of recruiters scanning the Group for good candidates.
Employers and recruiting companies even start their own Groups to share news and attract members. Join, and contribute to discussions or provide valuable news relevant to members.
You can meet and even connect with people on LinkedIn through the dialogs that develop over discussions. People notice those who “like” their posts, and also those who make positive, relevant comments — not necessarily saying everything is “Great!”
Don’t automatically “like” a Discussion to bring yourself to the attention of the person who shared it. Read the related web page first to be sure that you do actually agree with it. If you do, then “like” it.
If you are a reasonably skilled at writing and have good information to share, LinkedIn’s blog is a very visible platform. The articles you publish are highlighted by LinkedIn near the top of your Profile for everyone who visits your Profile to see (and, potentially, read).
Simply click on the “Write an article” link at the top of your LinkedIn home page, as shown above, and get started. You choose when your article is shared with the public on LinkedIn.
Well done, these posts can dramatically raise your visibility as more and more people read and share them. But, even if they don’t end up with 5,000 views in a week (or even 50), they demonstrate your communications skills and some aspects of your professional knowledge. A recruiter scanning your Profile is apt to check your articles to gain more insight into your qualifications and personality.
4. Provide contact info!
If you want to be contacted by recruiters and potential employers, you must share your contact info.
If they cannot contact you, they cannot hire you.
You can list your Twitter handle and can include your personal Web site or blog (which should also have your contact info). Edit the “Contact Info” in the column on the right near the top of your LinkedIn Profile. You can safely include your email address and phone number. Read To Be Hired, Be Reachable – How to Safely Publish Your Contact Information on LinkedIn for how to do it without compromising your privacy or putting your job at risk.
5. Include your photo!
It’s not a bad idea to include a picture, too.
Recruiters roll through dozens to hundreds of Profiles a month. They don’t always remember names they have seen, but they do remember pictures.
This will help them remember if they have contacted you in the past (and check their files accordingly). Also, Profiles without pictures can send the message of “anti-social media” or “not social media savvy” or even “fake LinkedIn Profile” or “hiding something.”
Obviously, you need to make sure you are open to invitations to connect or InMails from recruiters. Make sure your contact settings are set appropriately on your profile. You can include your preferred contact information in this section, as well as, the Personal Information section.
You should be open to connecting with recruiters even when you are not looking for a job. You may not currently be a job seeker now — but some day you likely will be.
If you already have a strong network of recruiters on LinkedIn, you’ll be way ahead of the game when it’s time to look for your next opportunity.
Notice that the advice above is all about getting a recruiter to find you, not the other way around. You are presenting yourself to recruiters without any extra outreach work on your part. All you need to do is set up your Profile well, keep it current, stay active on LinkedIn (ten to twenty minutes a day reading and sharing), and LinkedIn does the work for you.
This post originally appeared in Job-Hunt.org and has been slightly edited.
Has it always been the case that shorter is better? I’m sure there was a time when verbosity was appreciated; when long-winded stories captivated the listeners. Even elevator pitches—statements that answer, “Tell me about yourself”—were longer. I remember a workshop I led where I encouraged two-minute elevator pitches.
But times have changed. I’ve changed. An elevator pitch that’s anywhere between 30-45 seconds is more digestible. One that’s 90-120 seconds is a tad long. Two minutes is way long. This is my opinion. The trick job candidates need to learn is mastering a short, yet value-packed delivery. Again, my opinion.
It matters where you deliver your pitch. At a networking event, your elevator pitch can be 15-30 seconds. Any longer is considered obtrusive. In an interview keeping it under 45 seconds is advised.
But wait? you ask. To answer the directive, “Tell me about yourself” requires a longer explanation in an interview; certainly more than 45 seconds. Here’s my question for you? How long is the average attention span of a human being? I’ll tell you. Eight seconds.
This isn’t to say that after eight seconds we zone out and stop hearing what others are saying. No, we zone out and zone in. Here’s another fact, the attention our attention span has decreased from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 present day. Says Time magazine, the Telegraph, the Guardian, USA Today, the New York Times or the National Post.
Dr. Gemma Brigg from the BBC disputes this: “It’s very much task-dependent. How much attention we apply to a task will vary depending on what the task demand is.”
This article is not about the average attention span of a human, though. It’s about the proper length of an elevator pitch. According to a LinkedIn poll, which has garnered more than 7,000 votes, 16% say the pitch should be approximately 15 seconds, 46% 30 seconds, 31% 45 seconds, and 8% more than 45 seconds.
Here’s are the outlines some interview-prep pros and I offer to structure your elevator pitch. Notice, like snowflakes, that no two are exactly alike, save for the fact that expressing your value is a key element of all elevator pitches. These outlines are laid out in the discussion of the poll.
Sarah Johnston ✔ The hook ✔ 2 Strengths that relate to the job ✔ And WIFM (Which stands for “what’s in it for me?)
Rachel Montañez ✔ Story ✔ Story climax/intrinsic motivation ✔ Evidence of your capabilities and not just your skills ✔ Current goal – Tie it to the corporate values
Me ✔ Ask yourself, “What are the companies pain points?” ✔ Demonstrate your value in form of your passion for the job. ✔ Next talk about your relevant accomplishments. ✔ Why you’re a fit.
KRISTIN A. SHERRY ✔ Three strengths you bring to the job ✔ Plus, the value results ✔ Plus, a story to back it up
ALEX FREUND ✔ Provide some concrete facts the of work you performed. ✔ Give an example of a professional success story. ✔ To follow up immediately on that, ask the interviewer a question about the job’s responsibilities.
This still leaves us with the question of how long the elevator pitch should be. Here are the stats again: 16% of voters say the pitch should be approximately 15 seconds, 46% 30 seconds, 31% 45 seconds, and 8% more than 45 seconds.
Let’s hear it from some career-search strategists
Of the 7.065 who voted, some had opinions on the length of the elevator pitch. Most agreed that it depends on the situation, but given the nature of LinkedIn’s polls, listing all the variables is not an option.
Hannah Morgan—Context matters A LOT. Is this pitch being delivered during a job interview? Is it a first interview? Who is asking the question (HR, recruiter, hiring manager).
All these things matter and that’s why one answer won’t work all the time. Attention spans are short. But if you are interviewing for a job, you have up to 1 minute to convey why you are interested and a fit for the role.
Austin Belcak—I’d encourage people to time themselves before answering Bob! I’m a BIG fan of being direct and concise but it’s pretty darn hard to get everything across without leaving out value in <30 seconds even if you have it down pat.
Jim Peacock—I voted longer than 60 seconds because I often think it is more like a conversation about value you bring to the company…specifically that company. If it is in an interview situation then less than 2 minutes for sure.
KRISTIN A. SHERRY—Being able to share your pitch in 60 seconds or less demonstrates confidence and clarity about the value you bring. People can ask for more detail if they want it, so it’s best to be concise. Thank you for the mention!
Angela Watts—As we know, there is rarely a one-size-fits-all approach to these kinds of things. I think it’s always a good idea to err on the side of speaking briefly and allowing the other person to hone in on what interests them most.
Ideally, you would give the pitch and they would be so intrigued by something you said that they will ask for more. When this happens, you’ve got their full attention and intrigue.
Jayne Mattson—If you are referring to being asked “tell me about yourself” as the first interview question, your answer needs to apply to the position. Your examples ideally should be related to what you will do in this role. Have it be 2 minutes and well prepared, so you don’t ramble.
I work with clients on answering with their head and their heart. I always encourage someone to share something about their human side too. After all they are hiring a human being and you can use something that relates to the culture or mission
LoRen 🚀 gReiFf —I advise for 60 seconds; right not rushed. Which means no fat. And the other key to getting it right is lots of practice. “I fear* not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times” – Bruce Lee *Of course the goal isn’t to generate fear, but the take away still applies!
Wendy Schoen—This is a question that is asked in EVERY interview. And a canned answer isn’t going to do it. I am a believer in the 60 second answer. It needs to be tailored to the specific job/company you are interviewing for/with.
It needs to cover who you are, WHAT you have accomplished and WHAT/WHY you are sitting in that chair today! IF you are able to craft the answer in a story, all the better for you. Engage the interviewer with your answer!
Ed Lawrence—In my MCOA sessions, I advocate a concise answer for networking situations. I follow Stephen Melanson’s approach—aim for 15 seconds: continuing if there is clear interest or a question from the other party.
I direct people to work on their 30 second elevator speech, if they want to. I then say it can be the basis for their interview answer to “tell me about yourself.” I think the goal there is one minute. Two at the absolute max and only then if you have led a fascinating life.
Becca Carnahan—I go with three relevant strengths, brief examples/stories, why you’re looking to make a change (in brief- one major reason related to growth/investment in industry/function/role, and why this company is the ideal fit. I recommend 60-90 seconds because the extra length helps answer the interviewer’s next question and ties the interviewee’s experience directly to the role.
Paula Christensen—The pitch length depends on the audience. I recommend between 30-90 seconds. Job seekers need to use their intuition here. The elevator pitch will be longer for someone in your industry who is engaged, like an interview with a hiring manager. Use a shorter version for networking.
Sweta Regmi—It depends on the role, industry and job description. I have coached up to 2 minutes. Use the tactics of commercials we see on TV. If you could pick one pain point on tell me about yourself and say “why you can solve their ongoing problem.” it hits the hiring manager’s head.
Have them at hello. “I understand that your customer satisfaction survey was only 60% last year. I have a formula on how to get that higher. I have saved xxx for my previous company” Dare to show numbers on tell me about yourself.
Rebecca Oppenheim—This is a really important topic – but I strongly disagree with a “one size fits all’ approach. It’s like telling people their resume needs to be X amount of pages. Too many variables. Unfortunately, many interviewers start out with “so tell me about yourself.” And if you go on for a long time, monopolizing the conversation, you’ll lose the interest of the interviewer before you even get started.
Ana Lokotkova—The way I see it, anywhere between 30 and 60 seconds works well. You want to be concise, but at the same time give enough “flavor” to leave the other person curious for more.
When you think about what makes a winning LinkedIn Profile, what comes to mind? Is it the first impression—background image, headshot, and Headline—the About, Experience and Volunteer sections, Skills & Endorsements, or Recommendations?
Many people will agree that the Headline is key, as this is where you first tout your greatness. Others will say the About section rules; this is where you tell your story, including your why, who, what, and how. And Experience is where you elaborate on your accomplishments.
But there are many areas on your winning profile that show your greatness, and you should capitalize on them. This is what I impress upon my clients—use every section on your profile to show your greatness.
I asked five LinkedIn pros what comes to mind when they think of a winning profile. One of them writes of it from a recruiter’s point of view, another focuses on Skills & Endorsements, one equates it to a Swiss Army knife. Reading what they’ve written can help you create a winning profile.
Jack is a welcome contributor, as he provides the point of view of someone who reads profiles with the goal of hiring the right person.One of his tips to provide enough information in your experience section, lest you irritate the recruiter.
Recruiters have their own opinion on what a LinkedIn profile should look like. When a recruiter has a job assignment from a company, usually it’s on a contingency basis.
This means that the recruiter is given permission to search for talent, but so are a number of other recruiters and the company itself.
The recruiter is in an intense race to find the best, most appropriate candidates before anyone else. If they can’t, the recruiter won’t earn anything for her time and efforts.
Since time is paramount, recruiters want to see a LinkedIn profile that clearly states the prospective candidate’s responsibilities. The summary should be an advertisement highlighting the specific amazing things they’ve accomplished.
Recruiters need to know exactly what the person’s title is, the name of the company he works for, how long they’ve been there, duties and crowning achievements. A recruiter will only spend about 30-seconds viewing this information. They don’t want to have to decipher what the person does.
As a recruiter, it’s frustrating to see a naked or barely dressed LinkedIn profile. You know the type—the person hastily slapped on his recent job without much, if any real effort or content.
You can quickly ascertain that he’s not too motivated or lacks attention to detail when the prior couple of jobs from five to ten years ago take up much of the real estate.
It’s unhelpful when the job responsibilities are vague. This is not supposed to be a guessing game. You’re not generating interest by purposely leaving vital information off of your profile. In fact, it’s annoying and irritating and a turn-off to recruiters.
You have to ensure there are relevant, industry-specific recognized keywords on your profile. When recruiters search on LinkedIn, they are purposely seeking out people who have on-target skills, experience and background.
Don’t use buzzwords like “results-driven,” “self-starter,” and “highly motivated.” Instead offer details on the successful projects you spearheaded, your achievements in your field and the value you added to your employers.
It’s not a good look when there’s no photo. If a recruiter sees a picture of a sports team logo, car or one with his girlfriend, there’s a strike against him. You should come across likeable in the picture. It’s not a deal-killer if you don’t, but recruiters are only human.
Recruiters know that their corporate clients desire candidates that show evidence of a progressive career arc. They’re not excited about someone who has held the same job for ten years or longer without any promotions.
They don’t want to see too many job switches. This seems unfair, and it is. However, the recruiters know that companies are leery of people who move too often. They fear that the applicant may be a flight risk and leave after only a year or two.
Hiring managers worry that maybe there’s a negative reason for the person constantly moving. It’s known within recruiter circles that there are people who are amazing at selling themselves on interviews and getting the job, but terrible at keeping their job. They’d prefer a person who has shown stability and loyalty.
Biron Clark also contributed to all three of the articles in this series. For his piece, he covered the key components of the LinkedIn profile. One tip he imparts is to focus on the sections of your profile that will be viewed with more frequency. Another is to keep your paragraphs short for better readability. This tip resonates with me and is one I impart on my clients.
Not all sections of your LinkedIn profile are viewed with equal frequency, so you should focus your attention on the areas that get seen most. These provide the biggest opportunities for “quick wins” when updating your LinkedIn profile.
The first section that comes to mind is your LinkedIn headline. Your headline shows up in search results even before someone decides whether to click on your profile or not.
It’s also shown when you share a post or comment on someone else’s post.
A LinkedIn headline is like your online elevator pitch. It’s what people see first, and what they make an initial judgment with, so spend a good amount of time here.
Make sure you have a friendly, professional-looking profile photo, too.
Next, focus on your “About” section and your “Experience” section. These sections both appear high on a profile and are frequently viewed.
I recommend using very short paragraphs or bullet points to make the content eye-catching and skimmable. People don’t like to read long paragraphs on LinkedIn, generally, so break your paragraphs into smaller pieces.
Next, take advantage of the LinkedIn “Skills” section, which provides up to 50 slots for you to enter skills that also serve as LinkedIn profile keywords.
Finally, get at least one LinkedIn recommendation written by a colleague. Most job seekers still have no recommendations on their profile (just skill endorsements, which are different), so you’ll stand out immediately if you have at least one recommendation.
As you write all of the sections above, think about your target audience.
What do they care about? What do they find relevant?
Your LinkedIn profile is a marketing tool to help you attract your ideal audience, so you need to write it with your target reader in mind. Before you take action on anything above, sit down and think about who you want to respond to your profile, and what factors they’d respond best to!
Your Skills & Endorsements section is more important than you might think. This is what Susan Joyce tells us. Your skills are one of the criteria recruiters use to determine if you’re going forward in the hiring process.And endorsements do matter.
Your profile must have at least 5 skills before it can qualify as “All Star.” An All-Star profile has much greater visibility in LinkedIn than other profiles, resulting in many more opportunities.
Three skills are visible on your profile, and you choose them. These 3 skills are more likely to receive endorsement votes than the others which require someone to click “Show more” to see them.
Increased LinkedIn Recruiter Visibility
The reason skills are required for All Star? Skills are one of the primary search criteria in LinkedIn Recruiter when recruiters search for qualified job candidates. If you do not have many in-demand skills on your profile, or many endorsements for the skills you claim, your profile will not be very visible in LinkedIn Recruiter’s search results.
Review the job requirements for the job you want next. Pick the skills you have which are in greatest demand for your target job.
Increase your credibility by getting endorsed for those skills. The best endorsements, when appropriate, are highlighted by LinkedIn as:
Endorsements by members who have several endorsements for the skill are viewed as “highly skilled at this.”
Endorsements by colleagues from the same employer.
LinkedIn allows you to have up to 50 skills – very important keywords in LinkedIn Recruiter!
Only first-degree connections can endorse you for a skill. Often, reciprocity works. You endorse a colleague or friend for their skills, and they demonstrate their gratitude by endorsing you for your skills. You can also reach out, and ask someone to endorse you, especially after you have endorsed them.
Types of Endorsements
In 2020, LinkedIn added skill-level options (“Good” “Very good” “Highly skilled”). LinkedIn also began requiring members indicate how they know someone actually has the skill when endorsing them (“Worked together directly” “Managed the member” “Reported to the member” “Worked together indirectly” “Heard about the member’s skills from others” “None of the above”).
In September 2019, LinkedIn added “Skills Assessments,” visible as the “Skills Quiz” option in Skills & Endorsements. Passing the quiz and receiving the skill badge to add to a profile increases credibility and helps demonstrate to employers the member has that skill.
Skills Quizzes are being rolled out gradually, expanding the number of skills and the languages for the tests. You have 2 opportunities to take the quiz on a particular topic, answering 15 multiple choice questions in 22 minutes or less.
Of course, LinkedIn would be very happy if you participated in LinkedIn Learning to increase your skills.
Endorsements Are Not Recommendations
On LinkedIn, do NOT confuse “endorsements” with “recommendations.” Recommendations are short paragraphs written by someone attesting to the high quality of your work and included in the “Recommendations” section of your profile. While recruiters find these written recommendations very useful, LinkedIn does require them for All Star.
Madeline Mann writes about a very specific topic; your location. I have to admit that I overlook this important aspect of a winning LinkedIn profile. It’s not necessarily where you live; it’s where you want to work that’s important, according to Madeline. She also sees value in the Skills and Endorsements section.
LinkedIn is a search engine that can help opportunities come to you, so it is crucial that you are optimizing every aspect of it. There are two areas of the profile that are highly influential to showing up in search, yet they are often overlooked.
The first place to optimize is your location. Candidates who have the same location as the person who is searching are much more likely to show up in the search. Therefore if you’re trying to get a job in another city, make your location that city.
I have a client who resides on the East Coast but frequently comes to the West Coast to work with her clients and is interested in possibly relocating here for a full time job. Anyone searching for executives in Los Angeles would never see her profile since it says she is on the East Coast, and so to tap into those opportunities she changed her location to Los Angeles.
She included in her About section that she lives a bicoastal lifestyle and in her interviews explains her setup. This is not seen as dishonest, they are actually glad that she made it apparent that she is so open to relocation. So be strategic about your location.
Second, consider your Skills & Endorsements section. That’s right, that section down at the bottom of your profile in the nose bleed seats, where people endorse you for different skills. This is one of the highest predictors that you will show up in a search. Put key skills from you profession in this section. For inspiration, go to the profiles of professionals who have the same job as you and see which skills they have.
You can have up to 50 skills but still delete any that are unrelated to your work. Pin your top 3 most important skills to the top of endorsements to encourage more people to endorse you for them, even if others are endorsed more. And the best way to get endorsements? Endorse others!
Do you have a Swiss Army Knife. I used to own one but have since lost it. Sonal Bahl equates your LinkedIn profile to this incredibly versatile tool. I’m happy that Sonal agreed to contribute to this article, as she mentions some very important aspects of your profile. I love the point she makes about your profile not being your resume.
We’ve all heard about the incredible utility of the Swiss Army Knife, and since the 1880’s, you can use it to punch files, cut, open a wine bottle or a can…and so much more. The epitome of design and utility, multiple uses in one.
Well, LinkedIn has been around since the early 2000’s, and your LinkedIn profile is the Swiss Army Knife of social media profiles! Except it won’t throw you back a pretty penny.
Now before you brush me aside with your cynical pish posh, let’s dive in and break some of those myths that convince you that your LinkedIn profile is ‘good enough’:
1.Your website: If you don’t have a website, fret not. Your LinkedIn profile is your little space on the interweb. Imagery and visuals like a clean and attractive headshot, as well as a banner in the background, welcomes the visitor and draws them in to ‘read more’.
Think ‘about’ section of a website. What can really help is a nice profile picture. Studies have shown that a profile pic results in 21 times more profile views and 9 times more connection requests. Website, check.
2.Sales landing page: I know what you’re thinking, “I’m not selling something, I’m not a business owner.” Shhhh, don’t ever say that out loud, ever again. You’re selling your skills, your personality, your experience, towards the next opportunity.
Your ‘headline’ and ‘about’ section, when beautifully sprinkled with keywords that are used to search for someone like you, are all about what you can do for them. Sales page, check.
3. Blog: want to write an article? LinkedIn is still a great place to do so. Never mind that articles on LinkedIn don’t get as many views as some years ago, the purpose isn’t to show what you know, but to show authority and expertise in what you know.
And articles are evergreen with a much longer shelf life than posts, which in essence are short form blogs. Blog, check.
4.Resume: your work experience section comes to life on your LinkedIn profile! But for heaven’s sake, please don’t copy paste everything from your resume. Instead, tell a story, explain your top achievement, how you grew within the company, how you helped people and revenues to grow. Think: short, easy to read bullets. Resume, check.
5.Background check: Is your recommendation section vacant? Think Amazon reviews, but about you. When was the last time you bought something on Amazon with zero reviews. Exactly. Get cracking, ask 10 people who have praised your work in the past, to document their praise on your profile. Background check, check.
6.Trophy case: received some awards or got some accomplishments you’re particularly proud of? Use that section, and don’t be shy! Trophy case, check
7.CSR page: done your own version of corporate social responsibility like volunteering at a school or working for the underprivileged? Mention it, own it and share it with pride! A study 5 years ago stated that 41% of hiring managers value volunteer experience at the same level as paid experience.
I hope I have convinced you of the gold you’re sitting on, in terms of your LinkedIn profile. If you needed one more reason, consider this: An original Swiss army knife can retail for anything from $100-$1000. Your LinkedIn profile is free. And the outcome of a ‘sharp’ LinkedIn profile? Priceless.
Your winning LinkedIn profile is about your personal brand. First we need to agree with the definition of “personal brand.” One aspect of it is that it’s humanizing. Another is that it defines your greatness. Lastly, it’s consistent. Anything less is empty words on the screen.
There are four areas on your profile that demonstrate your personal brand:
1. I call it your background image. Often overlooked, it is the first thing that brands you, unless you have the default image LinkedIn provides in its place. If this is the case, you’re not thinking about your personal brand.
Ideally your background image illustrates your industry or something of interest. A double whammy if it does both. I had a client who worked for the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) as a marketer. Her background image showed her with the mountains in the background. Perfect.
2. Most people see the profile Headline as the most important section of your profile. What your Headline needs to achieve in branding you is delivering your greatness in 260 words or less. I had a group of eight people select from 86 Headlines the 10 best ones.
Here’s one that includes the required keywords to be found as well as a powerful branding statement:
Lezlie Garr Career Change Advocate | Certified Career Transition Coach & Resume Writer | LinkedIn, Interview & Job Search Strategist | I help ambitious professionals shift out of soul-sucking work and into meaningful careers
3. Perhaps the place where you can best brand yourself is your About section. The reason I say this is because it, more than any other section, allows you to show the human side of you while also demonstrating your greatness through accomplishments (the what and how).
In a recent article I wrote, I talk about how the first three lines of your About section need to capture the reader’s attention. Explain in first-person point of view your passion or what drives you. Now back it up with some accomplishments that prove this. I call this branding.
4. Lastly, is your Experience section where you hit them over the head with your quantified results. Let’s say you increased efficiency 45% by improving manufacturing processes using Lean methodology. Now, that’s talking the talk and walking the walk.
Where’s the human element in your Experience section? Use first-person point of view. Start with a mission or job summary and continue the narrative with accomplishment statements written in first person. “I’m proud to have increased efficiency 45% by improving manufacturing processes using Lean methodology.”
In describing your greatness, make sure you’re consistent throughout your whole LinkedIn profile. This is how you’ll create a winning profile. Like Sonal Bahl says, “…You’re selling your skills, your personality, your experience, towards the next opportunity.”
Now check out the other two articles from this series:
When I talk with my clients about their LinkedIn profile About section, I tell them it should tell their story. But that’s too vague. There’s more to your About section than this simple statement. Another way to explain this section is that it should encompass your overall value.
“Encompass your overall value?” you may wonder. People who understand what it means to encompass their overall value take the time to write compelling prose that clearly states their greatness. Yes, they don’t save all of their accomplishments for the Experience section; they present some of them upfront.
There’s more than showing your greatness to consider when you’re writing this important section for the first time or revising it. First, consider the following 8 tips. Then read about some ways you can write your About section.
Here are 8 tips to consider
1. Don’t skimp on your About section. If it’s similar to many of the ones I see, it lacks creativity. In fact, it resembles a résumé. This is what I call the bare minimum. You’re telling the world you don’t give a rat’s ass about your online image.
You’re allowed 2,600 characters—up from 2,000. It’s a lot, I know, but you’re not required to use all 2,600 characters. Some people write killer About sections with less words.
2. Make sure to include the keywords hiring authorities and other visitors are looking for. If you’re a project manager with expertise in Lean Sigma, list those words numerous times in your About section. It’s not only about the proper keywords; it’s also about density.
3. Write your About section in first-person point of view. In fact, write your whole profile in first-person to make it more personal. You can even write your Experience section in first-person.
4. Don’t be afraid to use some colorful symbols in your About section. It contributes to your personality. Just don’t over due it. You don’t want to distract your readers from the message you’re trying to deliver.
5. Use some HEADERS to guide your readers as to what your paragraphs or bullets are describing. I use all-cap headers like JOB-SEARCH STRATEGY and WHAT MY CLIENTS SAY ABOUT ME (EXCERPTS FROM RECOMMENDATIONS 👇) to indicate exactly what I’m describing.
6. Keep your paragraphs short. Three or four lines should be the limit. I’ve seen About sections written like stream of consciousness. Dense paragraphs consisting of 10 lines will scare people away from reading your content.
7. Always include your contact information. At the very least list your email address. At best include your telephone number. Here’s the thing, hiring authorities aren’t going to spend time trying to find you. And, they might not be astute enough to look in the Contact Info drop-down under your name.
8. I saved the best for last. Use your About section to brand you. There is perhaps no better place to do this; you message must be compelling—who are you, what do you do, how well do you do it, and do your readers believe it? These are questions you need to answer.
Three of the most important lines (approximately 50 words) are the ones that appear at the beginning of your About section; therefore they need to grab the reader’s attention and make them want to click …see more. I tell my clients they can talk about the following in their starter lines:
► A greater problem you solve ► What drives you in your occupation ► A question which you will address in the body
These will comprise your first paragraph. Here’s an example, from a salesperson in the LED lighting space, of the start of a great intro paragraph. He uses another approach for the intro paragraph by asking if the reader needs him, then explaining what he can do.
Are you looking for someone who can increase your ROI? With my product development, sales management, and channel management experience, I am a triple threat and will add great value to your company. I am a sales/product leader and global channel manager with a demonstrated history of working from startup to large… see more
Body of your About section
After your first and second paragraphs, it’s time to prove what you assert. Following is body content from a director of marketing. He chose to write his body highlighting areas of expertise, some of which follows what he wrote in his Header.
►DEEP PRODUCT/TECHNOLOGY CAPABILITIES: My roots are in product management/marketing. This strength has enabled me to understand and market complex technologies and I have had success with a wide variety of innovative B2B and healthcare products, including data analytics, data prep, data integration, cybersecurity/compliance, telecommunications, and IoT platforms.
►DEMAND GENERATION SUCCESS: I’ve created modern demand generation engines that have led to fast growth (50% – 160% year over year growth). I’m experienced in different approaches, including account-based marketing, content marketing, digital marketing (SEO, PPC, email, website), product-led/freemium programs, and partner marketing.
►BRAND BUILDING / CATEGORY CREATION SUCCESS: I’ve helped companies become category leaders in the eyes of customers and industry influencers, such as Gartner and Forrester. Twice I have influenced Gartner to create new categories to reflect my company’s unique value. I believe customer advocacy and partner marketing are critical elements to making a brand grow.
►SALES/RESULTS FOCUS: Yes, I am a marketer, but I focus on driving sales results, not just marketing metrics. This focus permeates activities from buyer journey development to content generation and sales enablement. I’ve event built and managed business development and inside sales teams that generated $18M/quarter in pipeline.
►HANDS-ON CAPABILITIES: My hands-on capabilities span content development, campaign execution, marketing tech/CRM deployments, SEO optimization, ad campaign management, website optimization and more. I like to build and scale organizations, but I can do the job first to get things moving.
Note that my former client uses first-person point of view to add personality to his achievements. As well, he breaks down his achievements with all-cap headers. Finally, he provides some quantified results. And yes, he exceeds the three-line limit but only in one of his areas of expertise.
Consider your About section a perfectly sculpted sandwich; the top bread is your intro paragraph, the middle is the roast beef and fixings, and the bottom bread is your concluding paragraph.
You need to tie it together with a paragraph that explains why you’ve written what you have above. I took the approach of ending my About section telling my readers that I get their plight.
I GET IT If you’re unemployed, you don’t need to be told that being out of work can be challenging, both emotionally and financially. I know because I’ve been there. So I’ll be the last person to tell you to not feel bad. However, I will tell you that it’s temporary. I’ll also tell you not to go it alone.
Clearly there are many way to write your About section. Some choose to literally tell a story that describes their career trajectory. Others are all about the accomplishments. Some like to highlight their testimonials, which is a wise decision for entrepreneurs. However you cut it, your About section must demonstrate value and a reason for your visitors to read on.
I will be the first to admit that networking on LinkedIn is complex; it’s not straightforward. What does networking on LinkedIn involve? The first step is having a strategy, which will take some forethought. You also have to be willing to reach out to LinkedIn members you don’t know. These steps are the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
After your strategy is in place and you’re committed to connecting with people unknown to you, there’s more work to do. Having a powerful profile is necessary to entice potential connections to connect with you.
No fears. In this article, six LinkedIn pros explain how they network on LinkedIn, as well as what they advise job seekers to do when it comes to networking. They talk about strategy, taking the step to enter unknown territory, and more.
Yes, they’re well established on LinkedIn; that’s why their tips will make you better networkers. Let’s see what advice our pros have to give.
I try to eschew terms that evoke strong negative emotions. Networking, unfortunately, carries the connotation of going to an old-school ‘rubber chicken’ dinner, wearing a tag with your name written in magic marker, putting on a plastic smile and shaking hands too firmly in an effort to show you’re the alpha dog in the relationship.
With LinkedIn, it’s different and the social media platform offers a better way to meet and engage with people.
In my personal experience, I’ve learned that it’s critically important to forge mutually benefiting relationships on LinkedIn. There’s no reason to embark upon a job search, project or advance your career all by yourself. You want to build a tribe of similar-minded people on LinkedIn.
I’m a big believer in being authentic and genuine. I won’t put on a fake facade. I’d like people to know the real me, for better or worse. I’m most comfortable being natural in my networking approach on the platform.
If you’ve just lost your job, you don’t want to scramble, starting to network from scratch. It’s awkward and uncomfortable for both parties if you reach out to someone online and ask them to introduce you to a hiring manager when you haven’t spoken with them in years.
Begin constructing a network before you need anyone’s assistance. You’ll be in better shape and have more confidence. On LinkedIn, feel free to reach out to others. Offer help without asking anything in return. Mentor younger people. If you come across someone who’s struggling, give them some attention.
Make it a practice to engage in random acts of kindness on LinkedIn. People will remember your generosity. When you pay it forward, the folks who you helped in their time of need will one day rally behind you.
To get ahead in your career, think critically and long term. There are different types of people to include and exclude from your LinkedIn network. Seek out fast-track stars. Instead of being envious, jump aboard their rocket-ship ride.
Cultivate online LinkedIn relationships with internal human resources recruiters. Start when you join the company. Keep in close touch with HR. Introduce people who could fill difficult job openings. When you notice that the HR person left to join another company, send her a nice congratulatory LinkedIn message. It could open doors for you too at her new firm.
Channel your inner Sun Tzu. View your competitors as potential allies. Invite them to your network. Engage in conversations. Share work stories. Commiserate together online. Over time, as they switch jobs, you’ll be connected with people working at an array of different companies.
Avoid certain types of people on LinkedIn. These are the folks who are perennially negative, gossip, talk about others behind their backs. They’ll drag you down.
Attend networking events on LinkedIn. During the pandemic there have been a large number of LinkedIn Live shows and online meetups designed to offer advice and introduce people to one another.
Politely invite people you feel comfortable with to join your network. Stay in touch. Like, comment on and share their posts. Follow successful people in your field and turn the online conversations into real relationships.
Always be open and friendly on the platform. You never know where your next big break will come from. It could be a recruiter who noticed a posting you wrote and has a great job to share with you. A former coworker, who you mentored and connected with, is now a manager and would like to see if you’re interested in a high-level position at his company.
Specifically target people at the companies you want to work for. Send them LinkedIn invites. If and when they connect with you, cultivate and nurture the relationship. You want to be on their radar screen when new jobs open up that you’re appropriate for.
As someone with a military background, my networking strategies are probably more careful than most LinkedIn members, particularly when it comes to accepting LinkedIn Connections. However, I highly value LinkedIn for networking, particularly during this pandemic.
My goal, on and off LinkedIn, is to help people understand how job search works today so they can successfully find their next job (or, even better, have the new job find them) through writing articles and sharing helpful information.
Most days, including weekends, I visit LinkedIn several times to check out my Notifications, catch up on Messages, and read the posts on my LinkedIn home page. These activities help me stay up-to-date, meet new LinkedIn members, and develop public dialogs with other members.
My basic strategy for networking on LinkedIn is to share good information with other members, find other members to learn from (like Bob McIntosh and the other contributors to this article), and carefully expand my network of connections.
For networking and professional growth, I find and follow:
Members who offer value in their posts.
Members who make good comments on my posts.
Members with whom I share some life experience – work in the same field, attended the same school, worked for the same employer, or have something else in common.
Members my connections follow.
Then, I do my best to make appropriate comments and learn more about these members. Connecting on LinkedIn may be followed by LinkedIn messages, emails, phone calls, and even video discussions. The result: developing relationships with LinkedIn members I would not likely have met in person before LinkedIn, particularly those who live outside of the USA.
When evaluating possible LinkedIn connections, I check the profile carefully. Usually, I accept or ignore invitations to connect using these criteria:
A complete LinkedIn profile:
More than 100 connections
Job descriptions connected to an employer’s LinkedIn Company page
About section more than 4 lines long
Skills and endorsements
Posts and activity:
More than a few words
Relevant and professional
I also Google the person’s name to verify that the person exists, that the employers exist, and to find some proof of professional expertise.
LinkedIn has helped me succeed professionally, and I have found many colleagues and friends through LinkedIn that I would have never met without it. Leverage LinkedIn for your career, too.
People often ask me: “What should I write to a stranger on LinkedIn?”
To me, networking on LinkedIn is no different than networking in person in a sense of how I approach every interaction. My rule of thumb is: don’t write it in a message if you wouldn’t say it in person.
Cold conversations can feel awkward, especially online. That’s why I actively use my news feed for networking. Every day, as I’m scrolling through my feed, I’m not just lurking behind the scenes—I do my best to engage with as many posts that interest me as I can.
What does engaging with a post mean?
It means you take the time to add value by commenting under the post to create a meaningful conversation.
The best part of it is that it’s not that hard to do once you get used to it. By commenting, you’re helping the author of the post to increase their visibility, as well as make new connections with others who have liked or commented on the same post.
I’ve found it to be a very natural way to ease into networking, especially for us introverts. It makes it so much easier to message someone directly after you’ve already had a couple of interactions with them in the comments, and have established some initial trust.
If you want some ideas for networking in the comments on LinkedIn, check out this video.
Once you decide to message someone you don’t know well yet, be mindful about how you ask them for help or advice. No one appreciates feeling used or burdened by a big vague request, like “help me find a job”, right off the bat.
If you want to receive great advice, make sure you formulate the right “ask” first:
zoom in on one specific aspect you need their input on,
explain briefly why they are the right person to address your question,
show genuine appreciation for their time by not asking for too much of it right away,
take any extra pressure off by openly telling them that it’s okay if they can’t help you or decide not to for their own personal reasons.
As awkward as it may feel at first, there’s nothing wrong with asking others for input. It doesn’t make you selfish or unethical—it makes you vulnerable. It is something everyone can relate to, which means you have every chance to create an emotional connection with another human being.
I focus on quality of connections, not quantity. I think that one or two strong, meaningful relationships are better than 100 new connections that I won’t ever talk to.
One key person can introduce you to opportunities, help you expand your network further, etc. So I focus on connecting with the right people, not a lot of people.
And I do my research first so that I’m able to clearly explain why I wanted to connect.
Next, when I connect with somebody new, I’m always looking to give value first.
I’m thinking about whether I have something to offer (advice, data, leads, information, tactics) or if I know anyone else they’d benefit from talking to as well!
Lastly, I also try to share content that will attract the “right” people to me… via my LinkedIn posts. That way, I receive inbound connection requests to grow my network further.
How job seekers should network:
Be strategic and focus on quality of relationships instead of connecting with everyone possible.
Think about who you’d benefit from knowing. It could be hiring managers, career advisors, or anyone else.
Then, do your research and find an angle to approach them with, and send a customized LinkedIn request.
For example, you could say, “I read your recent article about ___. It was incredibly helpful to me as a job seeker, so I wanted to connect here if you’re open to it.”
Then, after they accept, don’t ask for a big, time-consuming favor right away. That’s not how to build a relationship.
Ask for something smaller to start, for example:
“Thanks for connecting. I see you’ve been in the manufacturing industry for quite a while, like me. Do you have any thoughts on whether the worst is behind us in terms of layoffs, or whether this year might be a struggle for companies in this space as well?”
“I noticed you’re a former recruiter. Do you prefer when candidates put their Skills section high up on their resume, or do you prefer to see it lower down, after their Experience section?”
By starting with a small question, you’re a lot more likely to get a reply! Most people like being seen as an expert or authority on a topic, so it’s a compliment to ask their opinion on something specific and narrow.
However, I see job seekers run into trouble (and not get replies) when they ask for something too big right away. For example:
“Can you help me find a job?”
“Can you look at my resume and tell me what to change?”
Next, if there’s something you believe you can offer the other person, that’s an even better way to approach them!
Do you know anyone they’d benefit from knowing? Make an introduction. Can you share a piece of their content? Every content creator likes to get their work shared on social media!
Also, to gain more networking opportunities, consider creating LinkedIn posts to share with your network. If not, at least comment and engage on other people’s posts that you find relevant (and that the people you want to network with will find relevant).
If someone is a content creator, there’s another good way to get their attention and build a relationship, too. Follow them, start commenting on a few of their posts, and then send a message after they’ve seen your name a few times in the comments! You’re far more likely to get a reply if you do this.
Lastly, considering joining some LinkedIn groups. You can join industry-specific groups and groups for your situation (e.g. a group for unemployed job seekers, a group for coding bootcamp students, a group for entry-level workers in their first job, etc.)
I changed the way I write my profile while noticing my own LinkedIn habits. I want to know who I am about to check out before I want to know about them.
Who I connect with is essential. I desire quality connections, and saying no to users who don’t invest the time to create a quality profile is disqualified. I know many career professionals will not accept a connection request without a message explaining the reason for connecting.
How will they learn if I don’t teach them?
The one networking habit most users on LinkedIn will want to know is who you are and your proposed value. Why should they have to go to your profile to understand? When they put their cursor over your name, the intrigue is there, and they want to know more. By not providing it, you are stunting your LinkedIn possibilities and potential opportunities.
The O’Jays song, “Give the People What They Want,” comes to mind.
I could preach all day about filling out the profile completely, but my networking strategy has everything to do with the first impression. There are a few ways to do it before or even without another user looking at your profile.
I try to create thoughtful comments on posts in two sentences or less to sway a connection request.
Thoughtful comments can be long or short, but I keep them short most of the time on regular posts. It is possible to be intelligent, compelling, and serve readers in two or three sentences most of the time. People seem to engage brevity, especially when most users are commenting long-form, and sometimes, longer comments can be useless.
I like to offer useful comments on 2nd and 3rd connection posts (especially if I want to connect with others).
Because I usually don’t know the person, I’m commenting to passively illicit connection invites. Even here, I’m intentionally brief mostly, and it often ends up in a connection request with a note. My goal is to offer more value to everyone, but a genuine first impression provides a pathway to an interactive relationship.
Most of the time, I respond to those who write a note.
I use a short one or two-sentence response to let them know I am not using the auto-respond messages. It’s a small way to show you’re thoughtful and personable.
Not everyone who writes a note is granted connection or access.
I do say no to those who emphasize selling in their headlines (especially those who help entrepreneurs get to seven-figures in the podcast) or anything similar. Furthermore, I delete connection requests with notices that say they want to know more about what I do. Arrgh! I couldn’t be more explicit in my messaging and LinkedIn profile. Must we do this dance? No.
Updates as mini-articles is a game-changer.
When I started writing mini-articles in my posts, my engagement skyrocketed and 3x-4x connection requests. But they also enacted many Zoom call invites for tea and great conversations. I try to be personable without being personal. I again try to throw a few lyrics from songs or compelling analogies. I update with far more useful and practical tips than offering up my accomplishments.
I do two or more Live Streams a week with experts I respect (like Jack Kelly and Damian Birkel). These conversations spark other offline discussions or provide a basis for additional networking with viewers.
I know LinkedIn users may take these opportunities for granted, but I found these strategies useful. Networking is naturally hard for me, but it energizes my long-term business efforts. If your net is indeed working, you’ll find these small changes to your strategy will stimulate and attract quality connections on LinkedIn.
Over the years I’ve built up a network of close to 4,000 connections. To some this might seem like a large number, whereas others might see it as small. I’m happy with the size of my network for the following reasons:
1. I communicate with enough of them by posting updates; sharing articles; DM them; and, more importantly, comment on their content. This is one rule of networking: give and give and take. Yes, I mentioned “give” twice.
2. The core of my network comprises like-minded people who “get” me. Not all of them are webinar facilitators, or LinkedIn trainers, or bloggers. But we have a great deal in common. And the content I share is of value to them. This is key when communicating with your network.
3. I see my Messaging icon light up on a daily basis. What this means is that I communicate with my connections in an intimate manner. In COVID times it’s nice to have the opportunity to do this.
Job seekers, networking on LinkedIn is difficult to master, but not impossible. Here are some suggestions for you if you’re struggling with networking.
1. Don’t internalize LinkedIn’s foolish statement about connecting with only the people you know. If you’re satisfied with having 150 connections, understand that you are seriously limiting your reach of LinkedIn users who can provide sage advice or a job possibilities.
2. Have a strategy. In other words, don’t invite people who will be of no mutual value. I talk with my clients about the tiers of their connections. Everyone will have different priorities, but I consider connecting with people in your target company list to be the top tier.
The next tier might be recruiters or other hiring authorities, particularly those who serve your industry. Also consider people who are like-minded, such as people in your occupation and industry. You will find a great deal to discuss in DMs and your content will be of interest.
3. Practice LinkedIn networking etiquette by sending personalized messages to the people you want in your network. The default message will not cut it. In fact, I always hit Ignore when I receive an invite that’s not personalized.
There are three types of invites; the cold invite, the invite with a reference, and the introduction invite. The cold invite is the least successful, but if done right can be successful. Biron Clark provides in his article above a link to how to write cold invites.
4. Follow up is key to success. One simple way to do this is by thanking the person for joining your network and asking a simple question. “I notice you live in Madison. Are you a Packers’ fan? I think they look good for a Superbowl victory” your chances of building a rapport with your connection is great.
5. My last bit of advice is to be respectful of LinkedIn members. Don’t troll them by vehemently criticizing the content they share. It’s perfectly fine to disagree with their opinion, but viscous attacks will only make you look bad and kill your networking efforts.
Now check out the other two articles in this series.
In a poll that that asked, “Do you have two lives? Do you separate your LinkedIn life from your Facebook life?” nearly 70% of the 7,442 voters answered Yes. What they share on LinkedIn is professional and what they share on Facebook is personal.
Seven percent of the voters said they share the same or similar content between both platforms, and 26% are AWOL from Facebook. They’ve been there, down that.
Read below my article what some people had to say about how they split their activity on LinkedIn and Facebook.
First my take on Facebook vs. LinkedIn
A while back, Ichanged my Facebook photo from a casual shot of me sitting on some steps to one of me perched with my ankle-biting dog on a rock. It was temporary, but I liked it. I had this temporary photo set to go back to my original one after a week.
This is a cool feature that Facebook offers, automatically changing your photo back to the original one. It’s also cool that Facebook offers this feature. There are other neat Facebook features which don’t apply to LinkedIn.
You can express your opinions with impunity.
I’m not one to express my political views, even though I’m gainfully employed, nor do I talk about religion. But I know I could on Facebook if I wanted.
Many of my Facebook friends are not shy about their political views, and that’s okay. If I don’t agree with their opinions, I scroll past them.
You can share photos of food and other stuff
Then there are wonderful photos of delicious food that one of my friends posts on a regular basis. They make me want to write to her and say, “When should I be over for dinner?”
Many people share photos of their kids–mixed feelings about the younger ones–playing lacrosse or football, attending proms, celebrating birthdays, and other sentimental situations
You can play games and other neat features
Occasionally I’ll participate in games or apps that tell you what famous character in history your personality resembles. Or what you will look like in fifty years. Pretty cool.
Groups on Facebook are livelier than LinkedIn groups
This is a sad testament to LinkedIn’s declining group participation. One Facebook group I like is Recruiters Online. Another is one that addresses issues in my home city. Be aware that Facebook members tend to speak their mind and don’t hold back on insulting others in the group.
You can get more personal with Message
I’ll reach more people through Messages on Facebook than I will on LinkedIn’s Messaging, which curiously copied Facebook’s form of one-on-one communication method.
This is do in fact because I have intimate relationships with more people on Facebook than LinkedIn. Better put, I know people will respond quickly to my messages. I am not assured that my LinkedIn connections will check their accounts as much as Facebook members do.
People who know me would wonder, “Is this the Bob I know? He hates Facebook. He’s crazy about LinkedIn.” This is true; I dig LinkedIn, more so than Facebook. But it’s not true that I hate Facebook.
When LinkedIn is favorable
What I tell my workshop attendees is that Facebook allows me to let my hair down for the aforementioned reasons. I love making comments about my family and sharing their pictures. The only people I have to worry about is my oldest daughter and my wife, who literally critique my every post.
Facebook is not my professional arena. In fact, I refuse to allow myself to be professional on Facebook. For example, the photo you see below is one I have on my LinkedIn profile. I wouldn’t dream of using the photo above for LinkedIn. My connections would send me nasty comments if I did.
Below are times when LinkedIn is preferable over Facebook.
If you want to brand yourself, LinkedIn is the place to do it
Let’s be real, you can’t brand yourself on Facebook as a job seeker or business person as well as you can on LinkedIn. LinkedIn gives you a built-in audience for your branding. Most people on this platform understand its intended purpose.
Your profile is the first opportunity to brand yourself, followed by developing a professional network, and engaging in an appropriate manner. To this point, your posts, shared articles, insightful advice is businesslike, not personal.
Content on LinkedIn is more professional, and we like it
Some people on LinkedIn don’t get it; I don’t think they ever will. LinkedIn is for professional networking and curating relevant information. Occasionally the LinkedIn police will tell you, “More suited for Facebook” or “Send it to Facebook” or what I like to say, “I thought I was on LinkedIn, not Facebook.”
If you like to blog, LinkedIn has a platform for it
To a point, LinkedIn has a blogging feature that allows you to share your posts. The reach is greater than most blog platforms as long as you market your posts. The downside is if you don’t tag a hundred LinkedIn members when you post it, or write to them individually, your articles won’t see the light of day.
LinkedIn’s real value is its immense professional network
Even though Facebook is at least twice as large as LinkedIn, its members are more concerned about sharing photos of the food they’re eating, showing off their new grandchildren, bragging about their vacation in France. You get the idea.
Those same people can use LinkedIn as a professional networking platform to generate leads for business and their job search. It’s all business, and LinkedIn’s members understand this…for the most part. The LinkedIn police are real.
Recruiters hang out on LinkedIn to cull talent
Again, due to Facebook’s immensity, there are probably more recruiters on its platform than LinkedIn. However, the recruiters on LinkedIn are more serious about finding talent. They expect to find qualified talent on LinkedIn.
Job seekers on LinkedIn understand the value this platform offers. They are focused on networking with other job seekers, recruiters, and employees in companies for which they’d like to work.
LinkedIn is doing its best to catch up with Facebook
Facebook has more bells and whistles than LinkedIn, and that’s okay. For example, I’m fine with not having Facebook live. I have dabbled with sharing videos on LinkedIn, but this feature is a little clunky.
LinkedIn is focusing on features that professionals require; those that don’t succeed are eliminated. Two features on the phone app which will probably be abandoned: one that allows you to find people who can be located in your area, another that allows you to dictate your messages. Both of these features aren’t taking hold.
If you’re not on Facebook, join it
I used to bash Facebook in my LinkedIn workshops and blog posts. That’s until I joined Facebook. What I realized is that Facebook is great for us middle-age people (sadly true, younger folks are shunning Facebook).
I hypothesize that people who get too personal on LinkedIn, aren’t on Facebook or haven’t embraced its purpose. If you are one of these people, I ask you to visualize this overstated analogy: being on LinkedIn is akin to attending a professional networking event; whereas being on Facebook is similar to going to a party.
Here’s how some people feel about sharing content on LinkedIn and Facebook
One person who separates her LinkedIn life and Facebook life is Executive Career Coach Sarah Johnston. I see her on both platforms. Here’s how she feels about sharing photos of her personal life, “Even though they are really cute, I do not share pictures of my kids on my business platform. I don’t have their permission and I think they deserve their privacy.”
The same applies to Executive Career Coach Emily Lawson who shares, “I [separate the two]. I prefer to connect with my friends and family on topics outside of work. Occasionally, I’ll share a big achievement or recognition if I know they would share in the excitement. But, outside of that, I keep it separate.”
Executive Resume Writer Erin Kennedy takes it to another level; she has two Facebook accounts, “Absolutely, Bob McIntosh, CPRW! I even have two separate FB pages. I really don’t want people I don’t know seeing pics of my kids, etc. I don’t need people to know everything about me (it’s not that exciting anyway!).”
Sonal Bahl writes, “I’m very private about my private life. On all platforms. Like [Sarah Johnston], I don’t share my kids pics anywhere public. As for FB; there’s regular Facebook where I hardly ever show up, like [Kevin Turner], then there’s my FB page: where I post work related content. In other words, my strategy is to use social media for my work. Friends: we do WhatsApp groups etc!
Seven percent of the voters said it’s appropriate to mix the two worlds. Some claim that doing this maintains consistent branding. I’ve seen members of both platforms use the same photo, as an example. I’ve also seen people in my LinkedIn tribe post similar content on Facebook. Is this the way it should be?
Business LinkedIn trainer Teddy Burriss, explains, “…I have found that allowing my friends, family, and community networks to overlap with my business and career network amplifies the value of both Networks.” He went on to describe how he and a Facebook friend started a friendly conversation that turned to business.
Or perhaps they take the hybrid approach like MBTI and EQ authority Edythe Richards wrote, “I’m struggling a little with this question Bob, but that’s because I’ve always been a person who ‘blends’ my personal and professional lives. Given the norms of LinkedIn, however, I refrain from posting personal content here.”
Her comment made me think about the times I shared professional content on Facebook. I never received a great response, save from my mother who always gave me a “love” reaction, but I think it’s because she loves me.
Yet, seven percent of voters disagree and choose to be LinkedIn/Facebook fence-straddlers. Even though this is clearly the minority, Executive Resume Writer Adrienne Tom fell into this category…which gives me pause.
Adrienne for whom I have the utmost respect–not simply because she’s one of LinkedIn Top Voices–explained it this way, “I spent many years, just like you Bob, keeping [content] separate. It felt, right. Now, I let things bleed a bit more across platforms– within reason. I don’t share a lot of personal/family things here on LinkedIn and try not to bore my family/friends with too much work news over on FB.”
Where did the other 27% go? These were LinkedIn users who aren’t on Facebook, either because they never joined or dumped it for one reason or another. Career Coach Austin Belcak simply stated, “I deleted my FB two years ago and it was the best decision (for me) Bob! I opened up soo much mental space.”
This was a common sentiment. Some people had to choose between one or the other. Or they are on Facebook but aren’t active. Career Coach Ana Lokotkova is one who is not active on LinkedIn she explains, “Technically, I have a Facebook profile, but I haven’t been using it in months. So I guess it’s almost like I’m not on Facebook any more.”
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Including the perspective from a recruiter on how job seekers can share content of their own.
What constitutes success when creating content to share on LinkedIn? One measure of success is getting many people to react and comment on your posts, videos, articles, podcasts, etc.
Some contributors say that educating their audience—e.g. on how to find a job—is the ultimate definition of success. This is an altruistic view and, some would argue, should be the goal of everyone who creates content to share on LinkedIn.
I think we can also agree that commenting on what others share is important, as it shows we value the content they share. We get outside ourselves and show selflessness. I’m not talking about two-word comments like, “Great post.” This is akin to giving a like or other reaction.
Am I one who achieves success? I wouldn’t proclaim my own success, leaving my posterior flapping in the wind; rather I’ll leave that up to others who are more objective than me to credit me with success. I will say one thing about me. I’m consistent and employ a strategy.
In 2020 I posted a poll on Mondays, released an article on Tuesdays, shared a long post on Wednesdays or Thursdays, and religiously ran, “Blast from the past Saturday.” Every day in between I commented on others’ posts. I’ll continue doing all of this unless I have nothing to add. I won’t mail in long posts or articles.
As I said, sharing content that benefits my audience (job seekers) is definitely one of the goals. If I accomplish this, the reactions and comments will follow. However, If I tell you I feel no pride in getting plenty of reactions and comments, I’d be a big fat liar. The truth is that the numbers do matter, no matter what anyone tells you.
But this is just me talking. I decided to ask five very successful LinkedIn content creators what leads to their success, one of whom is a recruiter and very successful in his own right. I wanted to know what he advises job seekers to do in terms of engaging on LinkedIn.
For me, the most significant ROI for raising visibility on the site has boiled down to being present on the site on a consistent and regular basis, sharing a variety of supportive and helpful content while also engaging frequently on other posts.
I primarily measure success on the site by the feedback I receive from others. People who tell me that my posts are insightful, useful, or made a difference in their job search prove my efforts worthwhile.
My site strategy is simple. I visit the site daily, post when I have something to share, and even if I do not post, I read my feed and comment/engage on posts of interest. I am a big believer that you can raise your visibility on the site by actively engaging with others, even if you do not share content of your own.
I encourage professionals to comment more on posts versus simply liking posts, which is a bit too passive, to better control the types of content displayed in your feed and spotlight insights.
If you are new to LinkedIn or looking to get more active on the site, start with a simple commitment to visit the site each day. I like to pop onto the site at intervals during the day, engaging when time allows. Start by visiting for just 10 minutes a day and work your way up from there.
If you do not feel ready to share content, comment on other people’s posts, adding personal insights and thought leadership. Focus on posts and topics related to your area of expertise and strive to connect with like-minded people. Consider the site a place to build rapport and relationships. Stretch yourself to provide professional, quality comments and connect with people of interest.
When ready, challenge yourself to share your own content and consider a variety of posting options. Try sharing documents, videos, and/or photos or creating newsletters, polls, or articles. Different content can resonate with different users.
To support success, employ trial and error. What works for one LinkedIn user may not work the same for another user. Focus on quality engagement and start measuring the response.
Perhaps you commit to posting three times a week for the next month. After the month is complete, go back and analyze your activity. Which posts received the most reactions, ignited the most conversation (comments), or had the most views? Use these statistics to guide future posting decisions.
A final way to measure success on the site may be with profile views and follower growth. After a period of consistent engagement, you should see both profile views and followers increase. Let these increases motivate you to remain consistent on the site!
When it comes to creating content on LinkedIn, I like to mix things up and leverage different formats to make my posts more engaging. Video, text, infographics and other visuals – there’s quite a bit of room for creativity.
Whichever format you’re going for, make sure your posts are genuine and touch on subjects your target audience cares about.
Content that is 100% self-serving isn’t going to strengthen your personal brand, and will only make it harder to cultivate the atmosphere of community and win-win mutual support.
To me, the most successful LinkedIn post is the one where the discussion in the comment section is more valuable than my post itself. This means I was able to not only engage people who are curious about the topic, but I also prompted them to chime in, share a new perspective, ask insightful questions, or even learn something new.
I’ve gotten the best results on LinkedIn by mixing the types of content I share so that my readers don’t tire of any one type of post.
I’ve found that posts dispelling common myths tend to do well (for example, I wrote a post about why I don’t think you always need a cover letter when applying for jobs, even though many experts say you do).
Controversial topics do well, too. My post about cover letters was controversial as well, so it drew additional comments because of that. When people comment on your post, their network sees your post, too, and that helps you get more views and engagement.
Also, brief how-to posts with actionable tips do well for me. For example, I wrote a post about how to tailor your resume for a job step-by-step and it got a lot of engagement and comments.
Whatever type of post I write, one key tactic I implement is to write short sentences and only 2-3 sentences per paragraph.
People on social networks, including LinkedIn, don’t want to read long, bulky paragraphs.
Finally, I’ve noticed that posts with a positive sentiment tend to perform well, so I sometimes mix in a post that’s meant to be uplifting and motivating for my audience.
One additional way to boost comments and engagement on any type of post is to include a “call to action” at the end where you ask for people’s feedback.
By simply asking what people think, you’ll find that more people leave a comment, which then helps your post get seen by a wider audience on LinkedIn.
So, I often conclude posts with phrases like:
“Do you agree? Let me know in the comments.”
“Do you agree with this?”
If the goal of a LinkedIn post was to bring new website visitors, then I look primarily at clicks and website visits (measured in Google Analytics) to determine whether it was a success. Google Analytics allows you to see a breakdown of website visitors by source.
If a post doesn’t have links and wasn’t written with the goal of driving traffic to my website, then I look at comments and engagement. This gives me a sense of whether the topic resonated with my audience, and therefore whether I should share similar posts in the future.
In the longer-term, I look at my follower count and the general trend of whether my posts seem to be getting more engagement and views over time, or less. That tells me whether my broad strategy and the overall types of content I’m sharing are working.
First, my purpose for sharing anything on LinkedIn is to be helpful.
I know my audience. The people I am trying to help are those that find themselves looking for a new job after years of being employed and not having to look for a new job.
I know what their challenges are, what their fears are and I know the common mistakes they are making.
Every post I write and share on LinkedIn is focused on helping solve their problems, offering insight, and sharing trends in the job search universe. I want to up-level their knowledge and understanding of the job search process. And it’s important to be relevant to what is happening in the moment and to mix the topics up.
Sometimes I share my own work and ideas, but other times, I share articles written by other experts I respect. And sometimes I ask colleagues to collaborate or share their best tips.
Because I have been writing about job search for over 10 years, I have a lot of articles I can repurpose or extract from and post on LinkedIn. Last year, I made an effort to post longer posts (excerpts from past articles).
I usually begin my post with a question or a sentence I know addresses the concerns of job seekers. It’s a headline of sorts. I also try to include a visual with every post because those tend to get more views and shares. (I use Canva to create my images).
Whatever I create, I want it to be useful to job seekers so that they might download it or save it for later.
I’ve never been obsessed with likes, shares or other metrics, but I do review the numbers and data to evaluate how the post performs. It’s sometimes surprising what gets a lot of reactions or shares. As for followers and connections, I have amassed a very large following (over 100,000). I chalk it up to luck – being in the right place at the right time.
I also watch what other people in my industry (and even outside my industry) are posting, how they are posting and what is working well for them. I often get ideas from seeing what others have posted on LinkedIn and adapt it to my own voice and knowledge.
I’ve cautiously and purposely revealed personal information in my posts and try to write/speak in a way that is true to the person I am. I think that’s also something that allows people to feel connected to what I am saying.
At the end of the day, I know I’ve been successful when people add comments or re-share my thoughts. I realize that the majority of LinkedIn users/job seekers are lurkers and WILL NOT comment or re-share. So my measure of success comes when people in my own industry (career and job search coaches) let me know my information has been helpful.
How job seekers should engage on LinkedIn, from a recruiter’s perspective
Most job seekers I come across either don’t see the need for engagement or are reluctant to. I’ll always remember a director of communications who told me that because he was out of work, he had not right to share content on LinkedIn.
Jack Kelly is a recruiter who feels otherwise (as do the folks above) and shares his views on job seeker engagement.
If you want to find a new job or advance at your current company, you must make yourself known. It’s especially mission critical to gain the attention of recruiters.
You can be the best at what you do, but if no one is aware of you, nothing will happen. Cultivating an online presence is of vital importance now that the traditional methods of face-to-face interactions aren’t possible.
The key is to showcase your skills, ability, knowledge and achievements. You also need to broadcast what you are looking to do next, so people are aware of how they can help you. Ensure that your LinkedIn profile clearly and concisely sets forth your experience, background and achievements, as well as signaling what you’re looking to do next.
Recruiters are paid by companies to find the best, most appropriate people for their open job requisites. They are on a mission. Recruiters want to find the right candidate before their competition. If your LinkedIn profile is lackluster or hard to understand, they’ll quickly move onto another potential candidate. You want the recruiter to stop dead in their tracks when they see your profile or notice your online activities.
With millions of people in between jobs, you have to to stand out. Think of what specific, unique experiences, skills, talents, education and character traits you have to offer. These will be the building blocks of defining your brand and you need to broadcast it to the world.
Think of your online presence and postings as a way to burnish your brand and sell yourself. You want recruiters, hiring managers and human resource professionals to take notice of how great you are. You want them to keep you in mind when a job or new opportunity opens up.
This can be accomplished via commenting, sharing, writing posts and articles on LinkedIn. The content should focus on your area of expertise. Feel free to share your knowledge.
Strategically align yourself in a mutually benefiting way with people on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. These people should include recruiters, potential hiring managers, human resources and talent acquisition professionals at the companies you’d like to work with. Get involved in their conversations to amplify your own voice. Associate with leaders in your space. Don’t get involved with third-rail topics, such as politics, as you can be viewed as a potential problem.
Make sure that you find and connect with top-tier recruiters who are known experts in your field. Ask your former co-workers and current colleagues what recruiters they used. If they were satisfied with the results, ask them to make an introduction. Recruiters love pre-approved leads for their jobs.
Post regularly, so people get to know you. They’ll become interested in what you have to say. You’ll build an audience by continually marketing yourself. People will feel like they know you and would gladly help you out with job leads.
Share some recent wins, accomplishments and achievements. Write about exciting projects that you’re working on. If you are an expert in your field, seek out online conferences and networking events. Try to become a speaker. This spotlight will make you known to a wider audience and you’ll be viewed as an expert and a leader in your space.
Be open about your goal of finding a new job. Let people know that you’re in the job market and what specifically you want to do next. If no one knows that you’re on the job hunt, they won’t reach out to you with opportunities.
To share content or comment on what others’ share with purpose can mean different things to different people. It’s all good, as they say, if what you contribute causes an impact on your LinkedIn tribe. Biron Clark says he likes to stir it up a little, cause some controversy.
As a job seeker, causing controversy isn’t probably the best way to go, but as Jack Kelly has clearly stated, you want to be present on LinkedIn. You want to be noticed. And the best way to do this is by contributing; by sharing your opinions and demonstrating your expertise. I’ve seen it be done by job seekers. But not enough. Be bold. Be present.
As someone who’s on the front-line of helping job seekers gain employment, I see the frustration on their faces. Most are stoic and not outwardly emotional, but I know they’re struggling with a very difficult situation. Some are beyond frustrated; they’re bordering on hopelessness, wondering how they’ll land their next job.
I’ve learned throughout the years that there’s a mindset job seekers need to adopt. They need to believe that, through their mental preparation and subsequent actions, they can positively affect their job search. A critical aspect of their success is practicing the art of persuasion.
Persuasion is often used in the sales arena, but it also applies to folks who are looking for work. Brian Ahearn, one of only 20 Cialdini* certified trainers in the word, often tells audiences, “Getting people to say YES to you is critical to your professional success.”
I agree with Brian’s philosophy and have read many of his articles as well as his book, so I elicited his help to write this article. What’s good for salespeople is good for job seekers, I reason. Today, we’ll take a look at each in the context of your job search.
Consistency and Commitment
It’s easier for people to say Yes to those they know and like. That means you need to be likable. Liking starts with presenting a positive demeanor, even if you’re struggling with your job search. But there’s more.
We like people we see as similar to ourselves and those who pay genuine compliments. If you know some of the people you’ll meet during your interviews then do a little research using LinkedIn or Google beforehand. Find out what you have in common and how you might pay them a sincere compliment.
If you can’t do the research before the interview, then be very observant during your interviews so you can connect and compliment. You might not land a job just because someone likes you…but I guarantee you’ll never get a job if they don’t like you.
Reciprocity is that feeling of obligation to give back to someone who’s first given to you. When someone has done something for you, make sure you reciprocate in some way. It might be as simple as a sincere “thank you.”
Not reciprocating will put you in a bad light because it offends the sensibilities when people don’t give back in some way.
As was the case with liking, to be most effective you want to be proactive. Be the giver and the chances of getting what you want—that next job—will go up. This begs the question; how do you give?
Do what you can to help your fellow job seeker with their search. In other words, practice the six tenets of giving, some of which includes sharing information, mentioning a possible lead, providing moral support, among others. This will yield positive results because those people are likely to help you when you need it.
Social proof is key to creating a strong personal online brand, which can be seen by thousands of people. Some job seekers have the misconception that posting updates 10 times a day on LinkedIn is effective social proof. It’s not. Posting fewer quality updates is the ticket.
The person you interview with will also be impressed if they see you have lots of recommendations. Here’s where your prior influence is so important when asking for recommendations. The more they like you (Liking) and the more you’ve done to help them (Reciprocity) the more likely they are to give you a recommendation on LinkedIn.
Social proof is becoming increasingly more important for job seekers, as employers are primarily looking for talent on LinkedIn, Facebook and even Twitter. When I tell job seekers this in my webinars, some of them express looks of concern on their face because they have no social proof.
Consistency and Commitment
Consistency and Commitment is all about the person you’re trying to influence. In your case, it would be the person who is interviewing you and the organization they work for. This principle says people feel better about themselves when your words and deeds match theirs.
Gandhi put it this way, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony.”
The more you understand the person and organization you’re interviewing with the easier it will be to engage this principle. For example, if a core tenant of the organization is learning, your ability to show you’re a life-long learner will make it easier for the interviewer to see you as a cultural fit.
Do some homework so you know the organization’s mission, vision, and values. Next, give thought to how you align with each. Finally, be ready to demonstrate how you’re the right person for the job because your beliefs and experience are in line with all that you’ve discovered.
It’s easier for people to say YES to individuals they see as wise or having expertise. That’s the principle of Authority. This means you have to be viewed as an expert.
Make sure your LinkedIn profile highlights your expertise then be ready to back it up with stories and insights. For example; the best writers, speakers, and curators know what’s trending, and they report on it in a timely manner.
People are more likely to follow the advice of experts when what they’re writing, speaking, or curating is relevant to them. Once again homework is key because it’s essential that you know your audience well. Once you, as a job seeker, become known as an expert or “authority,” what you share will carry more weight.
The less there is of something, the more desirable the object is. This doesn’t only apply to iPhone upgrades when they first hit the market. If you possess a talent, or a skill set, that employers find hard to come by, you will persuade them because you’re a scarce resource. You need to help them realize if they don’t hire you, they’re missing out and might be worse off for the decision.
Don’t worry; this doesn’t mean you have to be a rocket scientist. When it comes to people it’s rare that there’s only one person for the job. There might be combination of things you bring to the table are what make you the most unique candidate. Once you understand that, you need to be ready to talk about your uniqueness in a way that an employer feels they’ll make a big mistake by not hiring you.
I think of job seekers who have the sought after job-related skills, as well as emotional intelligence, as an example of scarcity. If you can persuade employers that you are the full package, your chances of landing a desired job are greater.
Persuasion is not a one-off thing; it involves all six principles. When job seekers visualize each principle, they will be able to master them. One who wants to master Authority, for instance, must put effort into demonstrating through social media their expertise in a topic like digital marketing.
When job seekers use persuasion, they control their destiny. Their situation may seem dire, but it can be turned around. If you’re struggling with unemployment, look at the six principles and see which ones you must improve.
This article was a collaborative effort with a valued LinkedIn connection and friend, Brian Ahearn. Brian teaches Dr. Cialdini’s methodology to salespeople nationally and internationally.
In addition to his writing, Brian has recorded the following LinkedIn Learning courses: Persuasive Selling, Advanced Selling: Persuading Different Personality Styles, Persuasive Coaching, Building a Culture of Coaching Though Timely Feedback.
*Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., is the most cited living social psychologist in the world when it comes to the science of influence and persuasion. In his New York Times bestseller, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, he lays out six principles of persuasion which are scientifically proven ways to hear YES more often.
Here are the 3 components of your LinkedIn campaign that will.
If you think your LinkedIn profile alone will get you an interview, you’re sadly mistaken. I wish it were that easy. Imagine that you could write a great profile and wait for the interview offers to roll in. Sadly, this is not the case; it takes more than just your LinkedIn profile to get to interviews.
This isn’t to say you don’t need a LinkedIn profile that is optimized with keywords and brands you with the proper message. It will have to show the value you’ll deliver to potential employers with strong accomplishments, preferably with quantified results.
Enough of the profile for now. You can read about how to create one at the end of this article. Let’s start with two components of your LinkedIn campaign that might be considered even more important than your LinkedIn profile.
1. Let’s talk about networking
It’s not evident to enough people that the foundation LinkedIn is built on is making connections and nurturing relationships. Yes, creating a strong profile is important, as is engaging with others; but building your LinkedIn network is essential to getting to interviews.
How NOT to Connect
The number one rule when connecting with LinkedIn members is to send a personalized invitation. There is no deviating from this rule. To click “Send now” lacks creativity and is lazy. Instead, always choose “Add a note.”
The following ways to connect will not give you the opportunity to send a personalized invitation:
“Your contact import is ready” and then choosing to send mass invites to your email contacts. You’ll find this option in the drop-down tab “My Network” on the top navigation bar.
“People you may know.” This option is also in “My network.” When you click Connect, your invite goes straight to the recipient. No chance to write a personal invitation.
Connecting with someone on your mobile app by simply hitting the connect button. This, like the aforementioned ways to connect will send along the default message.
The Correct Ways to Connect
Connecting correctly simply means taking the time to read a potential connection’s LinkedIn profile and then writing a personalized invitation. This is covered in step 4 below.
You can connect with second and third degree connections. You should focus on your second-degree connections first, but your might come across third-degree connections with whom you’d like to connect. For third degree connections, LinkedIn hides the connect request under the three horizontal boxes beside the message box.
Contrary to what many believe, you can connect with the LinkedIn mobile app and still send a personalized invite. It’s tempting to simply click “Connect,” but open the person’s profile first and then select the drop-down box. I’ve been guilty of accidentally hitting the connect button without going a person’s profile.
With Whom to Connect
Your LinkedIn network is your life blood. Without a strong network of people, you won’t be successful on LinkedIn. If you are weary of reaching out to people you don’t know, you’ll have to get over it. I tell my clients that the only way they’ll get to know people is by inviting them to their network, or accepting invites from the proper people.
LinkedIn members have opinions on how many people should be in their network. Some believe a smaller, more focused network is better; whereas others believe the more the better. How many people you have in your network is your prerogative.
Note: If you have less than 400 connections, you might not be taken seriously by some recruiters.
Regardless of how many people you would like to connect with, there are tiers of people you’ll want to approach. Note: these are interchangeable.
1st tier: Former colleagues and supervisors, as well as vendors, partners, distributors, etc. Connecting with these people first makes the most sense, as they know your work and can vouch for you.
2nd tier: People who work in your Target companies. Connecting with this group is your “in” to companies for which you’d like to work. Try to connect with people at your level or a someone who might supervise you.
3rd tier: Recruiters are an important group of people for many job seekers. I always suggest to my clients that they reach out to recruiters, as they have a pipeline of employers job seekers are unaware of.
4th tier: Same occupation, same industry. As an example, you’re an accountant in the manufacturing industry. You will search for other accountants in your industry.
5th tier: Same occupation but different industry. They have less in common with you, but can also be of assistance. A project manager in the software industry may know project managers in the medical device industry, and therefore can introduce you to them.
6th tier: Your alumni can be beneficial to you because of the bond you share–you attended the same university. This tier of people is particularly helpful to post grads entering the workforce who need connections to certain companies.
Tip: to get on someone’s radar or to be noticed by companies’ recruiters, follow said person and the the companies for which you’d like to work. Then comment on what your party of interests writes (this is discussed below).
How to Write Proper Invite Messages
The art of connecting with LinkedIn members is in the message you craft. There are essentially three types of messages:
The cold message. This is the most difficult to write successfully. In your message you need to provide a reason why your desired connection should join your network.
Using a reference. This message should garner success as long as the person you reference is well known and trusted by your desired connection. It’s important that your reference agrees to being mentioned in your invite message.
Asking for an introduction. This process is longer but involves sending a separate message or email to a trusted reference who can vouch for you. The person making the introduction for you must be a first degree connection with you and the recipient.
2. Be engaged, not just active, with your connections
To land an interview by using LinkedIn, you’ll have to show your areas of expertise or thought leadership. The key to doing this is engaging with your network and not just being active.
To be engaged, you must read the post, interpret it’s message, and then Comment on said post. Do this first and thenreact to it. The poster will appreciate that you took the time to read their post. This can lead to further communications between you and the poster.
When you’re engaged, you elaborate further and demonstrate that you read the post, processed it, and respond to it in detail. For example:
“Great post, Susan. Your statement about a company lacking a social media campaign being akin to living in the dark ages really resonated with me. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and other platforms can create that ‘like, know, and trust’ relationship between the company and its’ customers. You’re also correct in stating that all platforms should be connected, as well as linked to and from the company’s website.”
Note: always remember to tag a person with @name so they will be notified in LinkedIn’s Notifications. When you tag someone in a comment, their name will appear in blue.
Write long posts
To stay top of mind, your posts must show engagement. LinkedIn encourages you to share an article, video, photo, or idea. Take the opportunity to engage with your network by providing valuable content to them; content that elicits responses. A sign that you’ve succeeded would be the number of Likes and, more importantly, Comments you receive.
One type of update I find successful is asking an illuminating question. If you’re going to do this, be diligent in replying to your connections’ and followers’ responses. Failing to reply to your connections who answer your question does not demonstrate engagement.
Write and share your own articles
Writing an article with unique and fresh content shows you’ve considered what your audience would benefit from. My primary audience is job seekers and career coaches, so I write articles focusing on the job search and using LinkedIn in the job search. I know I’ve been successful when people react to what I’ve written.
Note: refrain from only sharing your own articles. This gives off the sense of superiority.
I include creating and sharing videos under being engage. This is not a new concept and requires feeling comfortable being recorded. If you are going to share videos, make sure you’re consistent and produce videos your network will appreciate.
Tip: by engaging with the public, your name and Headline will appear in your first-degrees’ timeline, thereby giving you more visibility. Further, if a second- or third-degree connection happens upon what you write, they can share it with their network.
Send direct messages
This is the most obvious way to engage with your connections. You won’t reach as many people as you would by commenting on others’ posts, writing long posts, etc, but it is a sure way to solidify relationships. I write or receive on average at least one direct message a day. These are people with whom I’ve developed a relationship.
3. Yes, you need a profile, and it needs to be strong
You need to know your story. As easy as this sounds, it might take some reflection. For example, are you pursuing similar work? What do you enjoy about your occupation? Adversely, what do you dislike about your work? Importantly, what value do you feel you bring to a company?
Questions like these are necessary to create a compelling profile that sends a strong message that brands you.
Writing your profile
The first rule is that you profile needs to be complete. When I talk to my clients about their profile, I use a checkoff list to guide them through the process. Although there are more than 10 sections that you need to complete, I’ll cover the most important five.
The Headline is a section that can tell visitors your value by your title, areas of expertise, and a branding statement if you want to add one. Here’s an example of one that I consider to be strong.
Career Change Advocate | Certified Career Transition Coach & Resume Writer | LinkedIn, Interview & Job Search Strategist | I help ambitious professionals shift out of soul-sucking work and into meaningful careers
The About section should tell your story. It’s generally longer than a resume Summary statement. Written in first-person point of view, the first paragraph must grab the reader’s attention by talking about how you solve problems or what drives you in your occupation.
Following paragraphs can be examples of your greatness in bullet format. I prefer headers that are written in ALL CAPS to draw the reader’s attention to them. Here’s an example for a Information Systems Department Director who wants to highlight their ability to develop business:
Specializing in new project planning and achieving business objectives, I budget hundreds of thousands of dollars in project resources.
I Lead efforts that consistently generate sales exceeding $15K in a competitive pharmaceutical market.
Someone like this might have two or three additional examples of the value they can bring to employers.
Following the examples of what I like to call greatness, the profile writer might write about their client’s personality traits in the form of brief examples or even testimonials.
The Experience area is where you will take painstaking efforts to turn your duties into accomplishments. But before this, I like to ask my clients to give me a brief explanation of their overall responsibilities or even a mission statement. This is what I have on my profile:
I’m more than a webinar designer and presenter; I’m a career coach and LinkedIn trainer who constantly thinks of ways to better market my clients in their job search. Through disseminating trending job-search strategies, I increase their chances of finding jobs.
Here’s one example of turning a mundane duty into an accomplishment statement:
The duty: Used Lean methodology to increase productivity in a supply chain operation.
The accomplishment statement:I Increased productivity 80%—over a 3-month period—by employing Lean methodology in supply-chain operations. My CEO gave me kudos for this achievement.
Don’t be afraid to write some or all of your accomplishment statements in first-person point of view. Remember, you’re adding personality to this online document.
Education section. You earned Magna Cum Laude in university. I strongly suggest you include it in this section. As well, if you earned a degree while working full-time, include this in the description box. This makes the reader feel that you’re diligent and have strong time-management skills.
Skills and Endorsements. The reason why you need to focus on this section is because they will appear in recruiters’ premium package. You’re allowed to list up to 50 skills, but only list the ones that are relevant. And as far as endorsements go, they are looked upon favorably by recruiters. Want endorsements? Endorse others and hope they will return the favor.
Optimize your profile
Ensure your LinkedIn profile contains the proper keywords that will help you be found by recruiters and other visitors. The more keywords you have in heavily weighed sections, namely your Headline and job titles, the higher you’ll appear in searches.
Engaged—I’m brought back to the party analogy, where the person simply shows up and makes no effort to engage. I’m talking about going beyond the conversations you have with your LinkedIn connections. Yes, they constitute engagement; but there’s no effort to solidify the relationship.
Truly engaged—To truly show engagement, you must follow up with your connections. I have developed many relationships by reaching out to them via telephone, if they live a distance away, or meeting them, if they don’t live that far away. One of my connections and I had been exchanging discussions via LinkedIn. Yesterday we had our first phone conversation. Although we will not do business together, it was great finally “meeting” her on the phone.
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