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9 Tips To Ensure You Are Using LinkedIn Effectively

Alright...You have a LinkedIn profile. But the real question is, Are You Using It Effectively? Most job seekers know it’s important to add a recent, professional-looking photo to their LinkedIn profile. But did you know that not posting a photo may prevent recruiters from finding your LinkedIn profile in a job search?

LinkedIn is unquestionably the social network for job-seeking professionals—or even if you’re not looking right now. Ninety-two percent of recruiters use social media in their work today, and LinkedIn is the social network they use the most. And yet, many job seekers don’t maximize LinkedIn to help them find jobs. Instead, they copy and paste their resume and hope the right employer finds them. Compounding the problem: Some professionals in their mid-40s and up may not be as social-media savvy as younger colleagues and don’t know how to leverage LinkedIn. Below are 9 LinkedIn strategies, tools, and tips which will help you move the ball and be further down the field to getting a new job—or new career.

1. Make yourself memorable with great stories.

Recruiters and hiring managers are like anyone else—they respond to story-telling rather than mind-numbing lists of facts. Plus, research shows that stories can aid memory. So telling a good story or two in your LinkedIn profile could make you more memorable to recruiters. Explain the problems and how you solved them, especially if you came up with creative solutions to important challenges. Keep your narrative succinct. Too long of a story will be a turnoff to busy recruiters.

2. Focus on where you’re going versus where you’ve been.

Professionals at mid-career are often looking to reinvent themselves after years of working in a specific type of job or industry. But too often, their LinkedIn profiles only reflect where they’ve been. Instead, focus your profile on where you want to go.

Find your ideal jobs, then build your profile around those. For example, while it’s tempting to list tons of skills from all your years of experience, keep your focus on what’s relevant to the job you’re seeking. When I work with clients on writing their resume or enhancing their LinkedIn profile, I focus on the elements of their past experiences and background that are relevant for the jobs that they want. Not everything in their background is going to be important to the recruiter or hiring manager. So, my focus is on highlighting what will resonate with the person looking at my client's profile/resume.

3. Keep it fresh.

A LinkedIn profile should be a “living, breathing document” that clearly represents what makes you “unique and worth hiring", not a static set-and-forget online resume. One way to keep your profile alive is to regularly share updates on topics related to your field, just as you share updates on Facebook and other social media platforms.

Posting long-form content, such as LinkedIn articles, is another great way to catch a recruiter’s eye. You can also share thought leadership advice, insights on the day’s top stories or industry trends to reinforce your experience, which helps position you as an expert in your chosen field.

4. Get visual.

In the Instagram age, many people respond well to visual content, so whenever possible, make your LinkedIn profile more visual.

Have you won awards, or do you have impressive degrees or certifications? If so, post photos of them on your profile, rather than simply listing them in text. If you’ve given a well-received presentation, post it on SlideShare (which LinkedIn owns) and add it to your LinkedIn profile. If you’ve appeared in or produced an interesting video, post that to your LinkedIn profile, too.

5. Make yourself accessible.

One common mistake on LinkedIn is not making it clear how others can reach you via email or phone. LinkedIn limits the number of InMails its Premium users can send as well as free service members. That’s why it is important to list your email address and phone number prominently in your profile, such as in your summary as well as in the contact section.

6. Directly contact hiring managers and recruiters.

Thanks to caller ID and overflowing email inboxes, contacting important business leaders is getting increasingly difficult. But LinkedIn changes that. You can try to contact essentially anyone who is on the platform. Whether you are currently a jobseeker or not, you can send a direct message to whomever you want to connect with, including hiring managers. One recommendation is to send your LinkedIn messages over the weekend. This is because C-level executives are usually so inundated with messages during the week from people. They may even be impressed that you are working on a Sunday. It’s important that your initial message simply introduce who you are and not be overly pushy or aggressive. Try to find some common ground in your message and start to build that human connection. You can also mention common connections. This isn’t the time to pitch for a job opportunity. This is simply trying to open the door and build a connection and a relationship.

7. Think of LinkedIn as a search engine.

LinkedIn is as much a search engine as Google, one focused on finding professionals, recruiters, companies and jobs. Use it to search for recruiters in your industry. Example: If you’re in advertising, you might do a search on advertising recruiters. Also browse for jobs using LinkedIn's "Jobs you may be interested in" page. On the flip side: Recruiters search for candidates using keywords, so it’s important to build out your Skills & Endorsements section with relevant keywords for which you want to be found. Be sure you are including keywords in your headline and summary as well.

8. Clean up your other social media profiles.

While LinkedIn is by far the most important social network job recruiters use, it’s by no means the only one. Did you know that Facebook is the second most visited social network among recruiters? If recruiters don’t like what they find out about you on another social network, it can kill your chances at getting hired. Let me share with you an example of a client story. Before this woman client of mine came to me, she was in the final stages of negotiating a job offer to be the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of a major corporation. A C-level executive at the company found the woman’s Facebook profile, which contained some provocative, “politically incorrect” posts. Do you know what happened next? The company rescinded the job offer. Make sure ALL of your social media profiles reflect the brand you want to convey.

9. Post a professional photo.

Yes, I'm coming back to this. You need to have a PROFESSIONAL photo...and a lack of a LinkedIn profile photo is a no-go. A profile without a photo makes your profile look suspicious. It also makes your LinkedIn profile incomplete, and LinkedIn favors completed profiles in the search results that recruiters and others see.

In fact, LinkedIn members who include a profile photo receive up to 21 times more profile views. Think of your photo as your virtual handshake. So upload a photo that aligns with your role as a professional, but that makes you approachable.

Always keep it professional. Unless you’re in a profession like a veterinarian, a photo with your dog is probably not the best choice.

AND for you mid-or late-career individuals, as tempting as it may be to want to post a photo of yourself taken 10 or more years ago, DON'T DO IT! If you’re called in for an interview, the age difference will immediately be apparent. And your interviewer may wonder what else you’re hiding. Also, an out-of-date photo is inauthentic. And being authentic is always a good strategy on social media—as well as in job interviews.

I hope you found these LinkedIn tips and strategies helpful. If you are looking for some professional help with branding and optimizing your LinkedIn profile, contact me here.

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