LinkedIn is vital to your career success. The platform is like an ongoing, worldwide business networking event, according to a social media marketing expert. And job search, as I’ve written before, is a sales and marketing process.
Here are a few tips I’ve picked up from Mark Warncken, an Australian social media marketer on YouTube, as well as from recruiters:
- Grab attention with images and a headline,
- Fill in your About section,
- Be social!
Remember that LinkedIn is a sophisticated worldwide, multi-lingual business social media platform, so a short blog post won’t give you all the answers. Search this blog for other LinkedIn posts to find more ideas. Those results will still leave you with questions. (Ask us. We’ll try to answer.)
Grab attention with images and a headline.
Marketers tell us we have to grab the attention of our audience. Jobseekers have at least two audiences on LinkedIn. The first is the search algorithms that find your profile for prospective employers and industry contacts. The second is the people that use these searches–the hiring teams and contacts that read your profile. Fortunately, the top of our profile offers features that will grab attention from automated systems and hiring teams.
The top section of our profile includes space for our profile picture, background image, and our headline, in addition to our name and location. This section is sometimes referred to as our LinkedIn Intro Card.
Photo: Every social media site I’ve used has encouraged me to post a photo when I created a profile. LinkedIn is no different. In fact, some sources say your profile is 25 times more likely to be found in searches when it includes a profile photo.
LinkedIn says “any image that represents you” will do. Coaches and marketers I have spoken with do not agree. They suggest including a good headshot—not a selfie. This is social media, so it’s a good idea to include a headshot although we do not place headshots on resumes in the United States.
Background Image: Your background image is another opportunity for you to promote your brand. Here, for example, a person that worked in professional cycling included a background image of a road—presumably a cycling course. Search engines do not register the background image, but hiring team members will notice it.
Name: LinkedIn allows us only to include our name and credentials in the name field so branding opportunities are limited here. Industry-related credentials will be noticed, though. Recently, I added my Certified Career Management Coach credential and MBA degree to my own name field.
Location: Your location is important because employers search for candidates in their commuting area. Use a broad region, such as Greater New York Area instead of Brooklyn, NY to avoid dropping out of searches because you are not local.
Headline: Your LinkedIn headline is like the tagline under your name on your hard-copy business card. Your profile headline, like the tagline on your card can be your job title and company name. In fact, this is the default if you do not enter anything in the headline field on LinkedIn.
Be more creative with your LinkedIn headline. LinkedIn allows 220 characters for your headline, so you can describe what you do using keywords hiring managers will search for. In other words, clichés or movie-quote taglines such as “coffee is for closers” won’t land your profile in recruiter’s search results. Industry-specific keywords such as “knitwear pre-production” or “GAAP accounting” have a much better chance of putting your profile into search results.
Contact Information: Surprisingly, not everyone includes contact information on their LinkedIn Intro Card. “Would you hand out a business card at a networking event without your phone number and email address on it?” Mark Warncken asks in one of his videos. While it’s natural to be reticent about including contact information on a social media page, it will cost you an opportunity to “make it easy for the customer to buy.”
Fill in your “About” section.
Your About section is another great opportunity to make your case and include a call to action for your audience. The section offers enough space to include the 30-second pitch or elevator pitch you might give at a networking meeting. In other words, it’s the next step in virtual networking after “handing out” your online intro card.
Most of the About sections I read look like the summary section of a resume. Perhaps that’s why LinkedIn no longer calls it a summary. You have 2600 characters available so there is more space than there is in a resume summary. Take advantage of it to tell your story.
Remember to include a call to action at the bottom. Call on prospective employers to reach out to your phone number and email address today. List your contact information here so prospective employers do not need to scroll back to the contact section for your contact info.
First and foremost, LinkedIn is a social media platform. A co-worker once called it “Facebook for business.” The newsfeeds and the top of profiles on both sites do look somewhat similar.
LinkedIn’s social media characteristics mean that you have to be active for the site to work for you. Write posts, share articles, and participate in relevant groups.
Many of the profiles I see each week look like they have been posted and forgotten. They feature a statement such as “Joe has not posted anything recently” in the Activity section, few or even no contacts, and no images. Knowledgeable recruiters have told me such profiles will not show up in their searches. If a profile like this does make it into search results it would probably be ignored because the recruiter would most likely assume this person is not active on the site and will not respond when they reach out.
The top of your LinkedIn profile is like the top third of your first resume page—the portion “above the fold.” It is also like your old school business card. This is the section that must grab attention. You’ll want to fill in many more profile sections to have a “complete” profile, but making a great first impression with a strong Intro Card and About section is an outstanding start.