How to Update Your LinkedIn Profile to Help Your Job Search
If you choose only one social media outlet to use for your job search, it should probably be LinkedIn. However, LinkedIn isn’t like other social media outlets. It’s the one place you shouldn’t find cat memes, which means you have to approach your job search on LinkedIn differently than you would on Facebook or Instagram.
Starting a job search on LinkedIn is more than updating your skills and profile picture. It’s about engaging with people in your industry, connecting with recruiters, and demonstrating that you’ll make a fantastic addition to any team even when you’re not actively job hunting.
Why LinkedIn Should Be Part of Your Job Search
LinkedIn is more than a tool to help you connect with coworkers or build your network. LinkedIn makes it easier for you to connect with recruiters when you aren’t looking for a new job—yet.
Look for a Job Without Looking for a Job
Not only do recruiters turn to LinkedIn to fill current job openings, but they also use it to build their candidate job pool. This pool consists of people who don’t want a job right now but have a desirable combination of skills and experience that the recruiter may need in the future. When a role that matches your profile opens, the recruiter may contact you first in hopes that you’ll be interested in the role. But, you’ll need to make sure that your LinkedIn profile is optimized.
When You Are Looking for a Job
When you’re looking for a job, you have to let employers know you’re available, and LinkedIn makes it easy to do that. When updating your LinkedIn profile, you can enable the “open to job opportunities” setting in your account (it’s under your profile settings in the dashboard). Turning this on helps your profile show up in recruiter searches and makes it more likely they will find and connect with you.
But before enabling this function, there are two caveats you should know. First, while LinkedIn will do what they can, there is no guarantee that your current employer or coworkers won’t find out you’re looking for a job.
Second, when you turn this option on, you never know who will contact you. While there are plenty of legitimate recruiters on LinkedIn and plenty of job search success stories, that doesn’t mean scammers aren’t out there. Whenever anybody contacts you about a job, make sure you do your homework to avoid job search scams.
It Gives Potential Employers an Idea of Your Personality
One of the more overlooked aspects of a LinkedIn profile is that you can personalize it to make it pop. You aren’t limited to the standard one to two pages like a resume, which means you can infuse some of your personality into your profile.
While a profile should include your educational and professional qualifications, don’t simply treat it as a carbon copy of your resume. Instead, use the space to paint a vivid picture of who you are and what you bring to the table:
- Incorporate multimedia. You can upload audio files, as well as video and PowerPoint presentations, that illustrate your expertise. For example, you can show growth in sales by including a chart that shows a spike in sales over time.
- Add examples of your work. Providing great blog posts can be an excellent way of demonstrating your expertise. You can upload posts along with pictures that illustrate the theme of your posts. Then you can add keywords so that your posts can be found.
- Include links to outside profiles or portfolios. LinkedIn allows you to not only list your published works but also to link to them on the web.
Beyond the Profile
Once you’ve applied for a job, nearly 87% of recruiters will look at your LinkedIn profile before they do anything else with your application. That figure is up from 85% in 2015, so clearly, your LinkedIn profile plays a crucial role in the hiring process.
If you haven’t already optimized your profile, take some time to tidy up and enhance your profile. While this includes writing a killer summary statement and creating an eye-catching banner, there are other things you can and should do to help shoot your profile to the top of every recruiter’s list.
Customize Your LinkedIn URL
Not only do recruiters check out your LinkedIn profile when you apply, but they also Google you. And when you are Googled, you want to make sure potential employers find the best possible information about you. That means you want employers to find your LinkedIn profile before anything else. One of the fastest ways to start ranking your profile on Google for your name is to customize the URL. That customization can be as simple as linkedin.com/yourname.
Sometimes, though, it turns out that your name, John Doe, is taken. If you’ve got a common name and your First Name Last Name is taken, try one of these variations to create a custom, professional URL:
- Your middle name (or initial): linkedin.com/johnqdoe
- Add your job title or specialty: linkedin.com/marketerjohndoe
- Include certifications or licenses: linkedin.com/johndoecpa
Make Yourself Available
Although privacy may be important, if you want to attract recruiters and hiring managers through LinkedIn, your profile must be searchable. Keeping everything hidden from the public isn’t going to help in your job search. If privacy is an issue, consider leaving out personal information such as your location and phone number, and use a dedicated job search email address rather than your personal one.
Of course, LinkedIn is more than a collection of individual profiles for recruiters to review. When updating your LinkedIn profile, remember that it’s also a professional networking platform. Much like going to an industry event can help you grow your network, so can joining a group on LinkedIn.
You can join a group for every industry, technology, association, and school. And many of these groups have membership in the thousands. Joining, posting, and commenting in groups not only gives you access to the group members, it’s also an opportunity to engage with new people. Make it a habit to post to at least one group a day so that members will recognize your name and visit your profile.
But don’t post only about yourself. To be an effective (and well-liked) group member, start by helping others. Share content that might be useful to others. Answer questions and give tips and advice when people ask. Celebrate and promote the achievements and accomplishments of other members.
Being part of a group is more than building your network. It’s about building trust and establishing relationships. Once you’ve shown you’re a valuable group member, people in that group will be more likely to connect with you on LinkedIn and help you with your job search.
Create and Share Content
Most LinkedIn content is business and industry-focused. So, share or even create industry-relevant content that your network will value. It doesn’t have to be long-form. It can be simple things that your networks or groups might be interested in. Or you can create and share content about you or your company, as long as it helps others in a meaningful way.
For example, instead of talking about how you just landed a new (and big) client, talk about the struggles and challenges you faced while selling to this client. Explain how you overcame their objections, what you learned from the experience, and how others can learn from your mistakes.
Keep It Friendly but Professional
In many ways, your Linkedin network is no different than a real-life network. However, engaging with and supporting that network is different than how you engage and support your network on other forms of social media.
For example, it’s fine to publicly share your well-wishes about a promotion, award, or new project on LinkedIn. But, if you want to share a more personal thought (like “happy birthday”), those wishes are better kept to private messaging or other social outlets.
There’s nothing wrong with wishing someone a happy birthday, but it may not be something you should broadcast to your network. And, unless you know the person very well, it may be best to skip the birthday wish entirely. While you may mean well, it can be off-putting for some people to receive a birthday wish from someone they don’t really know.
Follow Companies You Want to Work For
When updating your LinkedIn profile, make sure you connect with companies as part of your job search strategy. Follow the company and engage with their content through likes and shares. Consider joining their groups, too. While there’s no guarantee it will get you hired, there is a chance it will get you noticed by a hiring manager, which may help you get your foot in the door.
Stay in Touch
Set a goal for yourself that every month or week, you’ll send a quick message to some of your LinkedIn connections just saying hello and wishing them well. In your note, inquire about their careers and lives, and mention that you’d like to stay in touch. The whole point of LinkedIn is to connect people, but what good is it if you don’t maintain those connections? That said, make sure that your interactions are genuine and avoid being salesy.
How You Can Use LinkedIn to Hurt Your Job Search
All of the above LinkedIn profile updates can help your chances of growing your network and (hopefully) your opportunities. But there are plenty of ways to misstep.
LinkedIn Is Not a Traditional Social Network
While it’s true that LinkedIn is a form of social media, LinkedIn is a professional networking tool. That means that everything you do on LinkedIn is friendly, cordial, and professional.
So, as much as you might want to share that “Mondays. Am I right?” meme or a picture of your toes at the beach, don’t. Save the sandy vacation pics for Facebook and Instagram, and keep LinkedIn strictly for professional, work-related content.
Leaving Activity Broadcasts On
Activity broadcasts are exactly that: broadcasts of your activity. Every time you do something on LinkedIn, it tells your entire network what you did. While there are some advantages to this (you published new content), in general, you should turn your activity broadcasts off.
When you update your LinkedIn profile, your entire network is notified. And after a while, that gets annoying. And annoying people may find they have a hard time maintaining their network. If nothing else, updating your LinkedIn profile could signal to your employer you’re looking for a job even when you’re not.
Use LinkedIn the Right Way
As social media profiles go, creating and maintaining your professional profile on LinkedIn is a big job. However, investing some time now in these profile tweaks could pay off in big ways before, during, and after your job search. They can go a long way toward helping recruiters find you and, more importantly, match you with the right job.
And, when you’re ready to expand your job search beyond LinkedIn, consider joining FlexJobs. We’ve got flexible and remote job listings in more than 50 career categories.
Photo Credit: pixabay.com
This is a version of an article that was originally published on May 4, 2015.
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Jessica Howington is a prior stay at home mom with a background in education and healthcare. As a Content Manager for the award-winning site FlexJobs , she strives to support those in search of flexible employment opportunities by providing job…Read More >
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