In my experience of using LinkedIn as both a job seeker and a ‘recruiter’, LinkedIn users seem to be divided into two camps - those who use LinkedIn regularly and have mastered the intricacies of how to make the most of their profiles, and those who aren’t entirely sure what they’re doing but have heard that LinkedIn is good to have.
Prior to joining VWA, I was very much the latter. I joined in 2016 as a Sociology graduate with absolutely no work experience - I uploaded a profile picture of myself in my graduation gown, logged off, and didn’t look at it again for two whole years.
I knew LinkedIn was a great tool – or had heard it was – but wasn’t quite sure how to make my profile effective. After using it on a professional basis for 18 months, I’m fully converted into a regular user- both in and out of the office!
But just how do you make the best out of your profile? We explore ways to maximise the effectiveness of your LinkedIn profile - whether you’re looking for your next role or just looking to expand your professional horizons.
How does LinkedIn work?
LinkedIn is a professional social media site used by around 700 million users globally. Through building connections and following companies, organisations, and groups, the individual user is able to expand their knowledge and connections in areas of interest. Once you have built a strong base of connections and organisations, your newsfeed will be full of interesting insights and updates into your professional sphere.
When used in a job-seeking capacity, LinkedIn is highly effective. It is thought that up to 95% of recruiters now used LinkedIn as a tool in sourcing candidates, with 75% of all jobs being advertised through the site’s jobs portal.
So, on a site with this many users - just how do you make sure your profile stands out?
Building Your Profile
The first step in creating an effective and noticeable LinkedIn profile is to ensure your personal details are up to date. These appear just beneath your photo and profile banner and will be the first information a profile viewer will see. Some crucial areas in this section are:
•Your Headline – Provide a very short snapshot summary of yourself. This could be your job title, or something about your experience that you think makes your experience stand out from the crowd – such as ‘EA with 5 years’ experience in Private Equity’. Try and keep it as brief as possible!
•Your Education – This is particularly key if you are applying for graduate schemes or roles that require a specific qualification. Many employers and recruiters will search specifically on education, so ensure you put your most relevant education on the top of your profile. Particularly common education specifications include University degrees, secretarial diplomas and industry-specific qualifications including ACCA / AAT and IMC / CFAs.
•Location – Always include your general location area, particularly if you are open to new opportunities. Many hiring managers will search for candidates in a specific area – eg London – when searching LinkedIn profiles, so ensure yours is up to date.
It’s also a good idea to add in a photo of yourself - but ensure that it is professional. Make sure you’re the only visible person in your photo and that it is a photo you would be happy for your current or future boss to see!
Perhaps the most crucial part of a LinkedIn profile can be found in the About section. Unlike the brief Headline, this section allows you almost 2000 words to provide a summary of yourself and your experience. Try to view this as your very own ‘elevator pitch’– a short description that provides a concise and engaging insight into your experience and yourself. Include a brief overview of your experience to date and the core skills that you have demonstrated in your career / experience, but avoid:
•Waffling and repetition – don’t try to reach the word count if you don’t need to!
•Using clichés and rhetorical questions
•Copying and pasting your entire CV into this section
•Talking in the third person
•Making your About section too specific towards one particular role if you are applying for a variety of different roles and industries.
Next up - your Experience and Education. Unlike roles on a CV, this doesn’t need to detail all your responsibilities for each role but you may decide to add in this information if there are specific elements of a role that are crucial for the kind of roles you are looking for now- for example, if you are currently managing a diary but do not have a Team Assistant / PA job title. Add in all your relevant work experience and education - not only will this increase potential profile visitors and recruiter views, but also add these companies and organisations to your Newsfeed – allowing you to stay up to date and reconnect with previous colleagues.
The final section on your LinkedIn profile are your Skills and Endorsements. Although they may look unassuming at the bottom of the page, these act as key word indicators for recruiters and employers who are looking for very specific experience on a LinkedIn profile. Add in all your skills, even if they seem obvious. Try including things such as:
•Languages – including the level of proficiency
•Software / technology skills – from booking systems, database systems right the way through to Microsoft Office Suite.
•Your key competencies - e.g. organisation, timekeeping, teamwork.
•Elements of your current and previous roles - such as project management, research, administration.
•Other key skills which are relevant to your role, such as shorthand, touch typing, pivot tables, mail merges etc.
Add Your Interests
These appear by following companies and organisations’ pages. Follow any relevant pages that interest you - from companies and charities to public figures and key business leaders. Updates from these pages will then show on your Newsfeed, meaning you are always able to stay up to date with relevant news and events.
Building Your Professional Network
Now you have a fully-fledged profile, the next step is to start adding connections to build up your network. The bigger your network, the more 2nd and 3rd degree connections you will have - meaning more key connections and individuals will be on your radar. Ways to build up your network include adding:
•Current and past colleagues and bosses
•Friends from University and school
•Any contacts within recruitment and headhunting – ideally ones that you have previously had contact with.
Use these connections to find key contacts within your industry or sector and build your network by adding key figures and individuals to your network.
Using LinkedIn as a Jobs Board
When using LinkedIn to find a new role, there are a few additional things you can add to your profile to guide recruiters to what you are looking for. On your LinkedIn settings, tick the box to say “let recruiters know you’re open to opportunities” and add in your job preferences. This will appear when recruiters view your profile - but cannot be seen by anyone who does not have a recruiter account - so don’t worry about your current employers spotting this! You may still get messages from recruiters if you are not open to new opportunities but are more likely to receive messages and job ideas if this is indicated.
Always add your most relevant CV when applying for a role. This allows hiring managers to contact you more easily and this may be more tailored to the specific role you are applying for.
I hope that this provides some insight into how to make the most effective use of your LinkedIn profile. If you would like any further guidance on your LinkedIn Profile, CV, or your job search, please don’t hesitate to drop VWA an email to firstname.lastname@example.org . We would love to hear from you!