A whopping 92% of recruiters use LinkedIn as a major source for finding and vetting candidates and posting positions. For your profile to have the greatest impact on your job search, there are three things you must do:
- Build a complete profile that is well branded and keyword optimized (you may want to hire a professional to help you with this, if you haven’t already).
- Optimize your LinkedIn Settings and Career Interests so that recruiters can find you.
- And consistently engage with your network to increase your visibility and build and strengthen your network.
If you do these three things, you’ll be approached by recruiters and employers about new opportunities and have a strong network poised to help you in your job search.
Building a Complete Linkedin Profile
OK, let’s start with making sure that your LinkedIn profile is complete, on-brand, and keyword optimized. All three of these are important to your job search.
Your LinkedIn profile is a marketing piece—not a biography or a resume.
It’s not designed to outline your entire professional history. It’s meant to give employers more information about you and share your career story.
I can’t tell you how many employers and recruiters I’ve spoken with who say the very first thing they do after reading a candidate’s resume is check out their LinkedIn profile to find out more about them. They’re not heading to your LinkedIn profile to read exactly what they just read on your resume. They’re going there with the hopes of finding out more about you.
Since your profile is a marketing piece, you need to come up with a Headline that will instantly attract the attention of your reader. You have approximately 20 seconds to catch the attention of a visitor to your profile. Consequently, you must find a way to stand out in a crowd. If your profile is like every other profile on LinkedIn, you won’t stand out, and you won’t be found as easily.
Standing out with your LinkedIn profile can mean highlighting the strongest qualifications you have for an employer in your LinkedIn Headline, backing up those qualifications with accomplishments throughout your profile, and using strategies that will help you become found by the people who most need someone like you.
My recommendation is that you don’t try to be all things to all people.
Although you can create different targeted versions of your resume to target different types of positions, you’re limited to one LinkedIn profile. On LinkedIn—as on your resume—one size does not fit all.
The most difficult part of creating your LinkedIn profile is sounding original. By articulating what makes you unique and valuable, you will attract attention from prospective employers. Be specific about what distinguishes you from others with a similar job title.
Your LinkedIn profile should complement your resume, but not duplicate it. To have a strong online presence, you must be clear about who you are, and who you are not. (An unfocused LinkedIn profile may be worse than no profile at all.)
One neat benefit of your LinkedIn profile is that it can be more comprehensive than your resume, since it offers you more room to showcase projects, publications, and experience.
A successful LinkedIn profile gives readers a snapshot of who you are and how you can contribute to their organization.
Optimizing Your Linkedin Profile So That Recruiters Can Find You
To understand the importance of these settings, you need to know that LinkedIn has a separate platform called LinkedIn Recruiter that interfaces with your profile. By purchasing a membership on either Recruiter Lite or Recruiter Corporate, recruiters can not only post job openings, but can search for candidates using various search parameters.
When logged into LinkedIn, click on “view your profile”. On your profile homepage you’ll see an option in the top section that says, “Show recruiters you’re open to work.” Then, click on the link that says “Get Started”.
Here you can tell recruiters what type of work you’re open to pursuing. Your LinkedIn Settings and Career Interests will increase your visibility and drive recruiters to your profile when using the Recruiter platform.
You can share your career goals—including the types of companies and roles you are most interested in—with recruiters on LinkedIn who may have opportunities that match your interests and background. Once you opt to share your career goals with recruiters, users of LinkedIn’s Recruiter product will be able to find you based on your shared career interests when they are searching for profiles.
This is an extremely valuable section to complete, whether you are an active or passive job seeker. Remember, to protect your privacy, LinkedIn has taken steps to keep LinkedIn Recruiter users who work at your company, as well as related companies, from seeing the career interests you share. (However, remember that LinkedIn says this is not a foolproof method, so consider that before proceeding.)
Note: You can share your career interests with recruiters for a period of six months (180 days), after which it will automatically be turned off. You will receive an email notifying you that you’re no longer sharing your career interests. However, you can continue sharing by manually changing the settings.
Have you thought about trying LinkedIn Premium? You can get a 30-Day free trial with my affiliate link here.
Engaging to Build Visibility
The power of LinkedIn comes in engaging consistently. It’s not enough to scroll through the feed and click “like” here and there. You have to engage by sharing, commenting, and adding to the conversation.
LinkedIn wants you to be part of the conversation.
One of my favorite ways to network is by following experts and thought leaders on LinkedIn whose content I enjoy or admire. Then, I engage with them. I comment on their posts, like their updates, add my own insights, thoughts, or comments. I’ve met so many amazing colleagues this way and now we support each other, collaborate on projects together, and ask about each other’s lives. Most of them I’ve never met in person, and it’s a true testament to the power of building relationships on LinkedIn. Remember, it doesn’t have to be overly complicated or awkward. It can be as simple as letting them know you appreciate their work and then showing up consistently to support them.
You can also look for people who are active on LinkedIn in your industry by running a search.
Type in your target position title or a keyword related to your goals for your next career move. Then, filter that down by content and “author companies.” This shows you a list of the content created around the topic that you’re researching by people who work for your target companies. (You do have a target company list, right?)
Now start engaging with their posts by adding your thoughts, insights, or a tip as a comment.
Another great way to find people to connect with is to look at 2nd-degree connections. You can reach out to 2nd-degree connections and request to connect with a simple message that says we both know (connection’s name) and I’d like to connect.
You’ll find the most benefit in engaging with people who are active on LinkedIn, those who are posting multiple times a week and engaging with other people’s posts. It doesn’t have as much effect if you’re requesting to connect with someone who is never on LinkedIn and isn’t actively using it.
I set aside 15-20 minutes every morning to post on LinkedIn (I focus on posting actionable tips and strategies for job searching) and then I have a list of about 25 connections who usually post daily to LinkedIn and I visit their profile activity, check out their most recent post, and add a comment. This supports their work and increases visibility for both of us. It also builds relationships and strengthens my network.
It doesn’t have to be awkward or complicated to engage and network virtually on LinkedIn. It can be as simple as investing 10-15 minutes a day three to five days per week with others who are active in your industry. The key is to be consistent. Logging in once a month won’t have the same impact as showing up consistently, every single day.
I challenge you to try it for two weeks and see how your network and profile views grow. You might be surprised by what opportunities pop up.
There you have it: three things every job seeker should know about LinkedIn. Use these tips to improve your LinkedIn profile and gain greater visibility and traction in your job search and with your networking efforts.
Thanks for reading! Want more job search and resume tips? Check out these 6 free resources on my website that have helped more than 25,000 job seekers land their next job.
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About the author
Jessica Hernandez, President, CEO & Founder of Great Resumes Fast
Hi, I’m Jessica. I started this company back in 2008 after more than a decade directing hiring practices at Fortune 500 companies.
What started as a side hustle (before that was even a word!) helping friends of friends with their resumes has now grown into a company that serves hundreds of happy clients a year. But the personal touch? I’ve kept that.
You might have seen me featured as a resume expert in publications like Forbes, Fast Company, and Fortune. And in 2020, I was honored to be named as a LinkedIn Top Voice of the year!
I’m so glad you’re here, and I can’t wait to help you find your next perfect-fit position!
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