LinkedIn purports to be the world’s largest professional network. The numbers substantiate that, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone willing to argue the fact. However, what many professionals tend to overlook is that LinkedIn is far more than a platform on which to flaunt your latest promotion publicly – or to stalk your boss’s previous employment and education, for that matter. Indeed, LinkedIn is also a platform that many recruiters use to do just that; learn more about your professional history, qualifications, availability, and much more. If you’re looking for a job, or are open to moving to greener pastures, LinkedIn is one of the chief avenues that you should be exploring and leveraging. Here’s how.
Whether you’re a fresh graduate or an experienced candidate, chances are you have a good idea of which field you wish to venture into. Perhaps you are an engineer by training with a strong affinity to the public sector. Perhaps you are a business graduate who has worked for several years in the finance sector. Your profile should reflect this. LinkedIn, like its slightly more frivolous social media brethren, is equally intelligent in its matching algorithms and recommendation optimization. To ensure that your profile accurately represents your skills and qualifications, it is not surprising that LinkedIn has two features to do precisely this. First, update your skill set. As you add on skills, people you’ve worked with before will be able to up-vote your qualifications. One would imagine that viewing a profile with dozens of up-votes on leadership would make a compelling argument to any recruiter. However, as impressed as they may be, they may not be so likely to contact you for a technically intense role. Therefore, the skillset that you put forth must be suited for the sort of roles you wish to engage in. More is not always better, and honestly is definitely the best policy as these skills could become pivotal discussion points should you eventually snag the interview. Do also update your profile with your latest professional experience. Your employment history maps directly to your professional qualifications. Update your certificates as well. Proudly insert your alma mater. Include that volunteering you do on weekends, and if your profile still looks a bit too spartan, internships are acceptable stand-ins until your career eventually takes full flight.
Aside from the tangible factors listed above, one must understand that LinkedIn is still a social media site and that recruiters are human as well. Much as you would not accept a friend request on Facebook from an anonymous account with no profile picture, no recruiter would take you seriously if you have no display picture or your picture in question is you hanging out at a bar in slippers. We shan’t go into depth on the intricacies of taking a good picture, but do don a nice jacket, comb your hair (or bun it up neatly for the ladies), and take the picture on a plain background using a camera with decent resolution. Also, much like your resume, ensure that there are few (or better yet, none) spelling or grammatical errors on your page. Small things like these can turn people off (not only recruiters, mind you) from exploring your profile in greater detail.
While the importance of maintaining your profile has been detailed in the previous points, we have made a big assumption indeed! Having your profile viewed is already half the battle won, as it shows a degree on interest on the viewer’s end. The hard part is getting the companies you’re interested in, interested in you to begin with. In our arsenal to do this are only 3 things; the 3 things that show up on the search and overview screens. Your profile picture, headline, and mutual connections. If you’ve read this far, you know the importance of the profile picture, so let’s examine the headline. Quintessentially, most people use the headline to describe their current employment role: Scientist at Company A. Editor at Company B, etc. It is the only free text that you can project beyond your profile. If you are actively seeking a job, there is no restriction against stating so in your header. That surely does make things easier for recruiters. If you are simply keen to hear prospective offers, then following the mold is fine, but do keep your headline updated as your role and employer change. Lastly, is a field that you cannot directly input; the number of mutual connections. Fear not however, as you still have control over what is displayed here. Find your colleagues, past or present, and connect with them. Your long list of friends dating back to secondary school are all fair game. As cheesy as it may sound, your network does matter. And who else is going to up-vote all the skills you just put in your profile?
All these amendments you’ve made to your profile are not just to allow you to passively sit back and wait for the offers to come pouring in. The reality is a bit harsher and harder than that, as reality does tend to be. Being proactive will help you considerably in leveraging LinkedIn’s extensive functionality. On the tabbed control bar on the bottom of your mobile app, you will notice a briefcase icon titled “Jobs”. Here, LinkedIn has kindly gathered an immense database of opportunities for your perusal. As you view openings, LinkedIn will get a sense of the sectors, role, and seniority of the roles that you’re interested in, and trim their recommended jobs from there. How convenient! By simply being active and viewing jobs, you help LinkedIn help you. Some job openings, you will notice, even have an easy apply button, where your LinkedIn profile is provided directly to the hirer. No additional application documents are required. For these jobs, having done your profile up nicely becomes a terrific boon.
As jobs evolve, so do our means of acquiring them. LinkedIn is at the forefront of professional networking, and being the educated resourceful individuals we all are, it would be a shame not to use it to its fullest. With the help of the points above, we wish you all the best in putting your best foot forward long before you ever step into the interview room!