In the digital era, your online presence is more important than ever, especially when you’re applying for new jobs. A 2018 survey by Chicago-based capital solutions company CareerBuilder found that 70% of employers screen their candidates’ social media profiles during the hiring process, and 54% have made the decision not to hire someone based on what they see. Developing a strong personal brand is not just smart, it’s essential if you want to get ahead, and your LinkedIn profile is the best place to start.
LinkedIn is the largest online professional network in the world
If you’ve never heard of LinkedIn, a quick visit to their About Us page tells you everything you need to know. With more than 610 million members worldwide, and two new members joining every second, LinkedIn is more than just another social network. Its primary focus is connecting professionals, so if you’re currently seeking work, it’s a fast-growing community you need to be a part of.
“Just like how first impressions matter during an interview, it also is the same on LinkedIn,” explains Fahad Farook, Senior Director of RGF Professional Recruitment Singapore, on what recruitment consultants look for in a candidate’s LinkedIn profile. “Recruiters often shortlist candidates based on the credibility of their profiles. Recruiters want to know who you are, and what you do. Clear information regarding your job experience, and even allowing your personality to shine through, will be an added advantage.”
The following are further tips to consider when beefing up your LinkedIn profile to maximise your chance of getting noticed by prospective employees when you are actively job hunting.
Start with the basics
When you’re developing your online brand, the foundations need to be in place before you can start promoting yourself and building your network. Ensure that your LinkedIn profile has a high-quality, professional profile photo, and that all your personal details are accurate and up-to-date. Refine your profile introduction to make it relevant to the role you are applying for. Your job history should match the CV that you and your recruitment agency are sending out. Rather than just give job title and a description of your responsibilities in the role, try to emphasise the successes you brought to the role. A traditional résumé is limited by what you can fit onto a sheet of paper, but here you have the freedom to expand on your work history as much as you need to. The summary section is the chance to get creative. As well as making your work goals and vision clear, you should express your personality and interests.
Seek new connections
You can spend as much time as you want curating your profile, but if no one sees it, it’s all gone to waste. LinkedIn will suggest friends to you based on any other social networks you are a part of; you can import contacts from Facebook for example. Just be wary that LinkedIn is a professional network, so you should try to keep all your connections relevant to your profession or business. Don’t be afraid to reach out and connect with key players in your industry. Connecting with people on LinkedIn is really the equivalent of attending an industry event and shaking hands with new acquaintances.
Your online presence should be polished, but it should also reflect who you are. Recruiters and potential employers looking to hire you will not be impressed if you arrive at an interview and the skills and experience you claimed to have in your profile were an obvious exaggeration or worse, completely false. Be truthful and make sure that the online brand you create not only accurately reflects your work history, but also projects your personal values and promotes the causes that you care about.
Develop your brand
Once you have set up your online presence, start building on it. Ensure that you post daily, either a share or original post relevant to what you do. Prospective employers will be more likely to take you seriously if you are actively engaged in your community and if the issues and topics are important to them too. Consider writing your own blog and linking the posts to your LinkedIn profile to establish yourself as an expert in your field.
Craft a more strategic headline
Just like in a newspaper, your LinkedIn headline is a chance to grab attention and make a first impression. Select keywords that are relevant to your industry to help potential recruiters or employers find your profile easily. When you first set up your profile, the headline will default to your current job title, but it shouldn’t stay that way. The headline you choose should summarise the personal brand you have developed. You can make it as personal as you like, and draw on ideas from friends and colleagues. Also important alongside your headline is the background cover photo. Many people choose to leave this blank, or upload a generic photo that doesn’t speak to their branding. You should make the most of this advertising opportunity by creating content that is tailored to you. This could be photos of you at work, promotions or offers, portfolio pieces, or anything that makes you stand out.
Finally, check your online profiles across all platforms, including personal ones, and tweak and adjust them for consistency. Having a professional LinkedIn page and an Instagram feed that contradicts it is detrimental to your personal brand. Adjust privacy settings or remove offending content if you need to, but the goal is to project a consistent image across all your online profiles, one that is attractive to recruiters and employers.
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