A CareerBuilder study found that 58% of employers conduct social media screenings to look for information supporting a candidate’s qualifications for a job. If the decision came down to you and another candidate - with the same exact qualifications AND a strong LinkedIn following - who do you think they would choose?
Today, your online presence is nearly as important as your in-person presence when it comes to landing a job. 70% of employers use social networking sites to research candidates during the hiring process. With such a heavy reliance on online personas in decision making, it’s important to understand the message that your profile sends to potential employers. Just as you would work to continually update and optimize your resume before applying for a role, follow these guidelines to maximize the use of your LinkedIn profile in finding your next job.
LinkedIn has over 760 million users, 260 million of which log on monthly. In order to stand out and stay relevant in the sea of professional profiles, you can differentiate yourself by consistently engaging with your industry. Share content and voice your thoughts on current events. Discuss the newest methods and technologies, and discover new ways to master your craft. By keeping up to date on market trends, and reacting to shifts constructively with your connections, you are positioning yourself as a subject matter expert in the space.
However, this only works if you have the right audience to engage with. Make sure to make relevant connections on LinkedIn - with coworkers, thought leaders, colleagues, and other people in your industry. Hopefully, when a hiring manager comes to investigate your online presence, they may see a mutual connection in your midst that can speak to your standing in the market, your work ethic, and much more. In short, you're judged by the company you keep. If people see mutual connections on your profile, they're more likely to trust you in turn. By building your network on LinkedIn, you are building your personal brand.
Optimize for SEO
Companies these days have to have a strategy for Google SEO if they want to stay relevant. Can you imagine going to a restaurant in a new city that doesn’t show up on the first page of search results when you look up “food near me”? Even if you walked by their location, you probably wouldn’t trust it. It’s the same concept! How will employers find you if you don’t show up in a search for your industry and role? In order to rank high in standard industry searches, you have to optimize your LinkedIn profile for SEO. A good way to start is to include industry-specific, targeted keywords into your headline, about section, and prior experience. List your skills, even if they seem arbitrary. The LinkedIn algorithm prefers niche industries and keywords - so the more keyed in you are with industry jargon, the higher you will rank in a LinkedIn search for professionals in your target market.
Utilize All Available Advantages
The great thing about social media is that reality is what you make it online. LinkedIn gives you several different ways to up your profile game, that go beyond years of experience or super technical know-how. In just a few minutes, you can do a few key things to instantly make your profile more appealing. For example, make sure you are using an appropriate, simple, high-quality headshot as your profile picture. (No, this does not include mirror selfies or pictures of you hanging out at a bar on the weekend.) LinkedIn suggests your face make up 60% of the image frame, among a few other pro tips. The same goes for your cover photo! Just by adding something other than the standard blue background, you’re already ahead of the game. Better yet, include things like a tagline, your other social media handles, a clever call to action, or just something that speaks to your target audience.
Next - and this might be a no-brainer - make sure to include compelling copy in your profile sections. Use your summary to talk about your professional goals or highlighted achievements. In your experience section, include some of those SEO keywords we talked about to build a better picture of your current projects, background, and previous responsibilities. If applicable, fill out other sections like education, volunteer experience, certifications, awards, and accomplishments. This helps you rank higher on LinkedIn search results, and gives you more opportunities to connect with someone reading through your page. People landing jobs because they attended the same alma mater as the hiring manager isn’t unheard of!
Finally, make sure to try and capitalize on the recommendations and endorsements as much as possible. List your skills in the relevant section and connect with your past colleagues, managers, and classmates. No one can speak to your ability to thrive in a future job than those you have already worked with, who know what you’re made of. You even have the option to ask for a recommendation from your connections list! It’s basically a built-in letter of recommendation when used right.
Quite possibly the most important thing to remember is to maintain your authentic voice on LinkedIn. Just like adding misleading information on resumes, fabricating things online can also have some negative consequences. Trust us, people can tell! Use the correct dates, numbers, GPAs - all of it. With people having such public lives online, something as simple as posting the incorrect graduation date, then having a picture posted of your actual graduation the year before, can give a potential employer some red flags. No one likes to join a professional network online just to be sold something, including a false perception of their colleagues. So, the best thing to do is be yourself - professional, but yourself.
Post about your work-life balance, your “origin story” of how you got into your profession, or even try to find new members to join your co-ed weekend soccer league you formed with your old college classmates. Better yet, explain your career progression. That gap in employment you might have been worried about including on a resume could be something completely appropriate to post on LinkedIn. If the reality is that you took time off to help out the family business in a role outside your area of professional focus, it may be too personal to include in your resume. Meanwhile, sharing the same story on a social site would make perfect sense. Being open about your experiences, even if they don’t relate to the job you want, can still speak greatly to your character and supplement your LinkedIn page. Authenticity draws people in, and it can help make real connections. In a world where we have lots of shared experiences, like having to work from home during a pandemic, talking about it on social media can help you find common ground with people in and outside your network. It’s refreshing and, when done appropriately, can help build your brand and give you a voice you wouldn’t be able to fit onto a hardcopy resume. When you’re looking to get hired through social media, you want to make sure that you show up to that job as the same person they saw online. Personality and all!
LinkedIn can be an incredible tool in building out your personal, professional brand. Social media is emerging as a major player in the job market - luckily as something that’s user friendly, easy to manage, and accessible to anyone with an internet connection. As you build and optimize your network, and set goals for your career progression, keeping up with the latest and greatest in talent acquisition technology can propel you to the top of the hierarchy of potential hires. When considering a move, utilize Blue Signal’s knowledge as a resource along the way. Contact us, or explore our site, to find more information on best practices for marketing yourself as a top-tier candidate in your industry.
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