By Shannon Houde
Unless you’ve been hiding under a particularly large rock for the past five years, you’ll know that LinkedIn is the social media account for people who want to make the most of their careers and professional networks.
But did you know that 97 percent of human resources and staffing professionals use LinkedIn to search for candidates and that 77 percent of all job openings are posted there? Making the most of your LinkedIn profile will be one of the best investments you’ll make in your job search and ongoing career and network development.
First, a true LinkedIn success story: My husband (and “client”) was targeted through a LinkedIn second-degree contact for his automotive and finance sector expertise. Now he has reinvented himself from an automotive investment banker to a Silicon Valley VC automotive technology guy — all through LinkedIn.
- Together these two started a successful automotive technology venture capital fund with an eight-hour time difference and without meeting in person until six months and 500 hours had been invested.
- Meanwhile, he wanted to gain board experience in the electric vehicles sector and through LinkedIn found a leading European player, Pod Point, who needed his business development and finance expertise to grow.
- He was also targeting a specific automotive company for a full-time role, so I hopped onto my LinkedIn contacts and did a company search to see who I knew there. Within 24 hours we had a live meeting for him with the head of the U.K. division to brainstorm ways to grow their brand across the country. A week later he had also brokered a meeting between them and Pod Point.
Synergies of match-making on a powerful platform! This just goes to show how powerful LinkedIn can be for getting found, linking others together and finding career opportunities, not to mention…making new friends in your sector and beyond.
Before you put fingertip to keyboard, take a few minutes to read and digest the following five tips.
- You’ve got one chance to make a good impression, so make it count by crafting a compelling and relevant story about who you are and what you do. You can’t customize your profile to fit a plethora of job types — it’s one size fits all — so be clear on what you’re selling and to whom.
- Keep it short and simple. LinkedIn is not a digital version of your paper CV! Attention spans are short online, so use searchable keywords and avoid long paragraphs. Bullet points are your friend.
- Think like an advertiser and promote yourself. Don’t be shy, tell the world about your achievements and back them up with proof.
- Smile. Yes, you are on camera! Get yourself an appropriate photo. I think black-and-white shots with a clean background, preferably taken by a professional, look best.
- Prepare to network. Particularly for CSR and sustainability roles, where job titles are non-traditional and a lot rides on reputation. Reaching out to people in your field (or the field you want to get into) through groups or companies you follow will help you get noticed.
Your profile checklist
Whether you’ve already got a profile or are creating one from scratch, use this step-by-step guide to proof your content and make sure it screams, “Hire me!”
- A professional profile photo
A bad photo or none at all is the No. 1 mistake jobseekers make. Yours should be a headshot on a black or white background, with a comfortable and approachable expression. Put your best face forward!
- An attention-grabbing headline
It’s the first thing people see, so use these 120 characters to describe your industry, skills and objective, and don’t be afraid to announce your job search right there in your headline (unless of course you don’t want your current employer to know you are looking). This is not your job title and company name.
- An engaging, keyword-rich summary
Write a 100-word sales pitch in the first person, using a conversational tone. It should provide the same information as your half-page bio or four-line profile section of your CV. Then list your specialties using searchable keywords, including industry, skills, interests, and past and potential job titles.
- A detailed job history
Give bullet-point descriptions of previous roles and impressive-sounding accomplishment statements that demonstrate your achievements (using the ‘>’ symbol). Back up your claims by uploading samples of your work: reports you edited, press releases about your projects, slideshows of presentations you’ve delivered. Make liberal use of the “add a link” function too.
- Highlighted accomplishments
Publications, volunteering, courses, honors and awards, languages… Fill out all sections that apply, and reorder them so the most relevant and impressive sections are at the top.
- Positive recommendations
There’s nothing better than positive recommendations to reassure a potential employer. Aim for at least one recommendation for every job you’ve had.
- Relevant groups
Showcase your knowledge and engagement in the sustainability field by joining relevant groups. Use the search bar at the top of LinkedIn to search for groups in your local area, as well as in your niche industry.
Try out my three killer tips for a strategic job search. These sneaky suggestions will help you target your efforts for maximum impact.
- In LinkedIn, click on the Advanced Search option, select “people” and set the location to your country. In the “title” field, type HR, human resources or recruitment. From the drop-down menu, select “current.” Up will pop a list of hiring managers in your network. Use the “company” and “industry” fields to narrow down your search… and get networking!
- Identify a few “dream companies” you’d love to work for, search for them on LinkedIn, and hit follow. You’ll automatically be updated of any vacancies they post in your news feed.
- Log on to SimplyHired.com, type in your job search criteria, and when the results display, look in the top right-hand corner. You’ll notice the “Who Do I Know?” box. Turn it on, allow access to your LinkedIn account, and watch your contacts magically appear under each posting. Now you know exactly who in your network to target for an internal referral!
Happy job-hunting folks, and don’t forget to contact me for a personalized 25-point critique on your LinkedIn profile and some expert advice on how to improve it.
Image courtesy of Terry Chay, via Flickr
Shannon Houde is founder of Walk of Life Consulting, the first international career coaching business focused solely on the environmental, sustainability and corporate responsibility fields.