How could you not love LinkedIn as a way of getting closer to all of the best recruiters and increasing your number of job offers? LinkedIn has long been the must-use professionals’ social network, but that doesn’t mean that it’s enough to simply sign up.
All too many candidates give potential employers the wrong impression by failing to extract the maximum potential from LinkedIn – so here are some pretty failsafe tips to bolster your job search.
Become an ‘All Star’
Yes, it sounds cheesy, but this label is LinkedIn’s way of showing that your profile is among the best of the best. You should be interested in achieving ‘All Star’ status given that it places your profile at the top of the site’s search rankings, and to do so, details for your current role and two prior roles will be required, as well as education details – to name just a few things.
However, although LinkedIn does give you hints about what your profile is missing en route to ‘All Star’ status, you might struggle to reach it without making certain other, minor but oft-overlooked changes. These include uploading a good picture of yourself – a genuine business portrait, not a Facebook-esque photo of you with a glass of wine in your hand.
Also remember that in describing current or previous roles, when you begin to type a company name, LinkedIn will autosearch for a company name that matches it. This Company Page can be selected by you so that there is a direct link to it from your profile and you are listed there as an employee.
From using your real name to making those vital connections
Other vital steps to ‘All Star’ status include simply using your real name, any nickname being included in parentheses, as well as crafting an enticing headline that includes the words and phrases that a potential recruiter would actually use.
You should also make the most of LinkedIn’s many functionalities – including the opportunity to upload or link to portfolios, photos, videos, presentations and more – to provide a conversational, but professional summary of your expertise and experiences in the Background Summary module.
From outlining educational experiences and achievements of relevance to your desired role or industry, to rearranging sections of your profile so that your most compelling attributes are placed front and centre, there are so many more ways to gradually transform into a LinkedIn ‘All Star’.
They also include making connections with a minimum of 50 people, as well as listing at least three skills under the Skills & Expertise area of your profile. Once you’ve done that, stand by for those endorsements from your LinkedIn connections!
Optimise your profile with keywords
It’s possible to structure your profile so that it includes keywords that recruiters or hiring managers might use to find you. So if you are a marketing manager, for example, you will naturally want to rank well for the term ‘marketing manager’, so that your profile is among the first to be seen by recruiters performing a search.
It helps to have a nice mix of short and long-tail keywords included in your profile, bearing in mind that the longer the keyword, the more specific the specialism generally is and the easier it is for you to be discovered through LinkedIn if you have that expertise.
Bear in mind that your ranking isn’t merely about the number of relevant keywords in your profile. It’s almost impossible to rank higher than someone in your field who has a greater number of recommendations, for example.
Your professional headline is the description immediately below your name on LinkedIn. It appears seemingly everywhere on the site, and is another good place to include some relevant keywords. The specialities section, meanwhile, allows you to list some more specific keywords.
Remember that the right keywords aren’t necessarily the ones that make sense to you, but the ones that prospective clients or recruiters would actually search for. Identify the best keywords with the Google Keyword Tool, and sprinkle them throughout your headline, company position, summary and experience details. Even your website links could have a few keywords dropped into them.
Make the most of the word cloud
Struggling to pinpoint the exact keywords that are most relevant to your LinkedIn profile? If so, you may want to try out a word cloud tool, such as Wordle. The tool helps you to identify the keywords that are relevant to your experience, and which you should therefore use within your profile and summary statement.
Most of us know word clouds when we see them. They’re also known as tag clouds or weighted lists, and are basically random jumbles of the words that appear in a certain document, the most common words represented by their greater size in the word cloud.
So by copying the text from that job description or recruiter’s website into a word cloud tool like Wordle, you can discover the most relevant keywords, make them more prominent in your profile and really start speaking the language of your prospective employer.
Use your personal email address not your work email
There is one very good reason, above all else, to ally your LinkedIn account to your personal rather than work address: it prevents your employer claiming that your network belongs to them. If you leave, are made redundant or your employment is terminated, then your LinkedIn profile will be more valuable to you as a jobseeker.
There has been an increasing awareness of the sometimes blurred lines between company-sponsored and personal LinkedIn accounts, thanks to cases like Eagle v. Morgan in the United States, and if your LinkedIn account is presently attached to a company email address, you really should look at your present employer’s social media policies.
Using a personal email address also reduces any potential problems with recruiters contacting you through LinkedIn and the InMail (LinkedIn’s messaging service) notification arriving in your secretary’s Inbox – as would make for an awkward office conversation or two.
What else can you do to boost your LinkedIn fortunes?
There are so many other ways of improving your job search via LinkedIn – with even just being sure to check and respond to your LinkedIn messages, as well as keeping your profile up to date, being apparently simple but all too often overlooked measures. Another means of extending your reach and visibility on LinkedIn is to simply join and participate in the many groups that have some relation to your interests and/or industry.
Finally, we couldn’t fail to mention another effective LinkedIn tactic – the vanity URL. It’s another name for a ‘custom’ or ‘personal’ URL, it’s a functionality covered within LinkedIn itself and it’s certainly necessarily for many of us who wish to market ourselves better online and offline. After all, the standard LinkedIn URL that you are given on signing up is basically an ugly bunch of letters and numbers. Imagine having that on a business card or in your email signature?
Thankfully, with a LinkedIn vanity URL, that can be changed to something infinitely more attractive and readable for those of us who don’t really do letters and numbers… something like http://www.linkedin.com/in/JohnSmith. Should your desired name be taken, you could simply turn this to your advantage by including a bit of extra marketing – JohnSmithSocialMedia or JohnSmithSEOConsultant, for example.
You get the idea. Yes, it might be an apparently simple change, but made in conjunction with all of the aforementioned changes, it could have a significant positive effect on your LinkedIn job search success.