How to make LinkedIn actually work for you
If you’re looking for a job or are hoping to one day move into a different job from the one you have now, you have to be on LinkedIn.
According to our own research, 63% of hiring managers are looking at your social media presence and 91% of those are looking for you on LinkedIn. If you’re not there, you are potentially missing out on good opportunities.
Yes. Many people see LinkedIn as just a pain – they spam you with unwanted emails (seriously? Do I care about 600 people’s “work anniversaries?”), they charge money, their publishing platform is full of self-promoting “thought leaders,” and almost none of the recruiters approaching you are offering jobs you actually want. But LinkedIn can actually be valuable, when used correctly. I do know people who have found great jobs through the site. You might as well make the most of it.
- Have an awesome headline. Say what you do, then catch the eye by making it exciting. The headline is the first thing people see. It’s valuable real estate. Don’t waste it. Don’t get cute, though, since you need to use keywords people actually search for. You’re not a “marketing rock star,” but you might be a “Marketing manager who makes household names out of unknown brands.” Make it pop.
- Craft a summary that sells you. Imagine the job you want and ask yourself what the person hiring for that job will be looking for. Pull the skills and experience you have and put it all into that package. Remember to talk about what you can do for an organization rather than what you want to get out of an organization. Never make the job search about you. Always make it about the other person.
- Use a great, professional picture. Have a professional head shot taken if you must or ask one of your friends to snap a picture of you. Be well groomed and dressed. LinkedIn is not the place for a beach pic, a party pic, or that old snap of you with an ex cropped out of it.
- Use keywords. Look at postings for jobs that interest you and find common keywords. An article on The Muse suggested you dump the descriptions into a word cloud generator like Wordle and see what comes up the biggest, then use those words because they are what employers will be looking for themselves. Smart.
- List your accomplishments. When listing your work experience, just like we would advise you to do in your resume, talk about what you have achieved. If you increased sales by 500% at your last job, say so. Stay away from formulaic resume speak like “duties included.” Nobody wants to read that. Talk about what you did, not what you had to do.
- List your volunteer experience. In the survey we conducted at Workopolis we asked employers what they had seen in social media profiles that made them want to hire someone. The most popular responses were about volunteering and charity work. And, according to a 2013 report by the Corporation for National & Community Service, volunteers were 27% more likely to be hired than non-volunteers. It’s good for the soul. It’s also good for your LinkedIn profile.
- Get recommendations. I’m not sure about the value of endorsements. I’m pretty sure most employers know those don’t mean anything. But recommendations are great, as long as the person is recognizable as a real professional and not just an empty profile with three connections, one of which is you. Ask your former employers and coworkers to write something about you highlighting your strengths.
- Make connections. Add the people you know but also reach out to people you want to know. One common tip we’ve seen is to customize the invitation. LinkedIn gives you a boilerplate “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” People recommend that you personalize this and explain why you’re reaching out. I usually just use the boilerplate though. Also, LinkedIn makes you check off how you know someone from a list and will not allow you to send a connection request if you click the box saying you do not know them. We get around this by clicking the “friend” box. If LinkedIn doesn’t like it they should change their choices.
- Be active. It’s not Twitter, so you don’t want to give everyone a play by play of your daily activities along with cat gifs and bad jokes. But do post updates from time to time. Share interesting articles about your industry. Comment on other people’s posts – only make positive comments. Don’t argue. And make your presence known in a good way. We’re not fans of LinkedIn groups – we find they just tend to generate spammy emails and are otherwise totally useless – but others recommend joining them, so you can make your own decisions there.