Everyone has heard of LinkedIn in – with over half a billion users worldwide, it’s part of everyday business behaviour. During a recent webinar I delivered for over 500 professionals on behalf of world class CV writing agency The CV & Interview Advisors, I asked how many had a LinkedIn profile, and over 90% said they did. However, when I asked how many were confident using it, only one person said she thought so….but even then she wasn’t completely sure.
So why all the mystery? What exactly is LinkedIn, and why should you be on there? How do you create a profile, what should you put in it, and how can you then use it to find a job? How do you find people to connect with, and how can you get them to connect with you?
In a nutshell, LinkedIn is many things…but it is not the professional version of Facebook. It is a professional networking site, a vast global jobs site (in fact THE biggest), a database of professionals, a search engine, and more and more importantly, your window on the world of recruitment.
What does all this mean to you? Well, we know from research that the vast majority of recruiters and hiring managers, when drawing up their shortlists for interviews, will check applicants out on LinkedIn. So if you don’t have a profile, or have a skeletal profile that doesn’t provide any additional value over and above your CV, then you could be missing a huge opportunity.
Setting up a LinkedIn profile isn’t hard – but getting the content right is what matters. First find the right photo. This is not the place for a lovely snap of you lounging by the pool on holiday, mojito in hand. It’s also not the place for pictures of your kids or your cat – save that for Facebook. Think that’s funny? You’d be amazed what I've seen people use as their profile picture!
For LinkedIn, you need to look professional and approachable. It doesn’t need to be taken by a professional photographer, as long as it conveys the right impression – i.e. you’re someone who means business, who a prospective employer would actually want to have in their organisation.
When it comes to the content, don’t make the mistake that most do, just cutting and pasting your profile and employment sections from your CV. This adds no additional value for someone who already has your CV in front of them. LinkedIn needs to offer more – more about you as a professional, and also as a person. It needs to complement and verify your CV, not duplicate it.
The summary section should be longer, more personal, written in the first person, and give a few insights into what it is that you can bring to the table. And don’t forget, LinkedIn is a search engine, so make sure you fill your profile with searchable key words that relate to your skills and experience to help people find you – just like your own personal website.
So when your profile is up and running, what then? It’s time to start building your network, connecting with people you already know, and finding the people you’d like to know on a professional basis. It’s time to start endorsing your connections for the skills you know they have, writing some personal recommendations, and letting others do the same for you. And once LinkedIn starts working for you, you’ll find it’s every bit as important as your CV when it comes to conveying your personal brand.
(Article written for the website of Recruit for Spouses in advance of their career-enhancing webinar on LinkedIn that I delivered on behalf of The CV & Interview Advisors.)