A few years ago, the PwC Workforce of the Future report predicted that employers would search social media and other Web sites for employees by 2030, instead of combing through resumes. While we do not believe the resume will disappear within the decade, it is true that recruiters are using LinkedIn to source candidates. According to LinkedIn Jobs, 94% of recruiters have been using LinkedIn since at least 2014. So, even if you dislike social media, it’s advisable to engage employers and industry contacts on LinkedIn.
Social media influencers use many techniques to engage their audience and promote their issues or business objectives. Here we are highlighting a few techniques that can work for you on LinkedIn:
- Define your target audience,
- Embed multimedia in your profile,
- Build your network of contacts.
- Write your profile in a social media style,
- Banish the “grey boxes.”
This list is just a starting point. Many LinkedIn members, though, are not actively engaged in using the platform, so you will be at an advantage even if you do only the basics.
Define your target audience.
You have to know where you are going to start any journey, including a journey to find a job. We call it identifying a job target when we prepare resumes. LinkedIn members that know of opportunities in a desired industry, occupation, and geographic location are your target audience in social media terms.
Your target audience should help you decide almost everything else about your profile. For example, when I was downsized from a career advisement job, the target audience for my profile was New York employers that were interested in hiring career professionals. My first career was in public policy, so most of my accomplishments in that realm were not of interest to my audience. As a result, I de-emphasized, and eventually dropped my federal government experience from my profile.
Embed and link multimedia in your profile.
Text is the least engaging feature of social media. That’s why platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook, to name just a few, are largely devoted to photos and videos.
LinkedIn is following the multimedia trend. You can embed a 30-second “cover story” in your intro section using your smartphone camera. Also, you can use the microphone on your smartphone to record a 10-second audio “name pronunciation” message within your intro section.
While your connection to the target audience will increase when audio is added to your profile, a 30-second cover story video you can shoot with your smartphone and included in your intro section is even better. (LinkedIn rolls out features to members gradually, so this feature may not be available on your profile yet.)
Experts say it takes time and effort to make a good 30-second video, so keep it simple.
Build your network of contacts.
LinkedIn is a social media platform so it will work for you when you build your connections. The platform will suggest “people you may know,” and you can send them connection requests if you do, in fact, know them. Include a note with each connection request that explains why you want them in your network. Do you know them through work, school, etc.? That will increase engagement and the likelihood they will connect with you.
The important thing is to be active. Results depend on what you put into LinkedIn. You will be disappointed if you create a profile and then leave.
Write your profile in a social media style.
Job seekers sometimes create their first LinkedIn profile by pasting their resume content into the profile. Social media writing is more informal than resume writing. It’s also less constrained by space.
Think “30-second pitch” when you write your LinkedIn summary, referred to now as the About section. You have 2600 characters to tell your story in narrative form. Tell your relevant career story in a first-person style, using wording that is appropriate for your industry, title, and career level.
The work experience section may have content similar to your resume. Write it more informally. Also, take advantage of the 2000 characters available to you so you can explain accomplishments in more detail than on your resume.
You can even use the “Projects” section further down on the resume to offer more detail on specific projects.
The most important thing from an engagement point of view is to make the content interesting and readable in all parts of the profile.
Banish the grey boxes.
Readers are more engaged by color and images so those grey boxes that appear in the Work Experience and certain other sections when LinkedIn does not recognize the company can reduce interest in your profile.
You can eliminate grey boxes in many cases. A recent client had grey boxes in his experience section because he was raising a son as a single parent, and then had a pandemic break. He gave names to his activities during the breaks. That is better than labeling the periods “freelance” or “sabbatical.” But the grey boxes remained.
You can improve engagement by replacing those grey boxes, sometimes called ghost boxes, with logos you create. This requires a little creativity, though, because LinkedIn, I found, does not let members upload logos to fill the grey boxes.
Fortunately, there is a workaround. You can’t upload a logo to replace the grey box in your work experience entry, but you can create your own company page and upload a logo there. That’s how I added the Resumes that Shine logo to my profile.
Unfortunately, I could not eliminate the grey box for another employer, the Consortium for Worker Education. CWE does not have a company page on LinkedIn and I do not have the authority to create one for them. The five steps discussed above should improve your engagement with other LinkedIn members. There is no substitute for activity, though. You will not accomplishment much by setting up a profile and forgetting about it.
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