Last week, in our discussion on whether or not the resume was dead, we spent a bit of time on LinkedIn and how that online juggernaut of professional networking is influencing the resume’s slow demise.
93 percent of recruiters and HR professionals review a job candidate’s LinkedIn profile. But what are they looking at, specifically? Well, everything. They are looking at our experience, skill sets, recommendations, who we’re linked to, and yes, even (and probably first) our picture. In short, they are looking at our overall profile, which really needs to be thought of as our “professional brand.” And just like Clorox and Kleenex, we also want our brand telling the world we’re capable of handling the job, we have a strong work ethic, and we can be a trusted member of the team.
So what’s the best way to do all that? I talked with LinkedIn Career Expert Catherine Fisher to find out.
Build an impressive brand
We’ve all heard that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. In our increasingly digital world, that same sentiment holds true online. “It may come as no surprise that a recent LinkedIn survey indicates that 65 percent of people believe the impression you make online is just as important as the one you make in-person,” said Fisher. To accomplish that goal, she listed five ways to enhance our professional brand online by pumping up our LinkedIn profiles:
1. Add a profile picture: “Your photo is your virtual handshake, so upload a photo that aligns with your role as a professional, but that makes you approachable. Members who include a profile photo receive up to 21 times more profile views.”
2. Build out your experience: “List all past experience to show potential employers you are ready for the workforce - that includes [for recent grads] relevant internships, on campus positions and summer jobs. Since you are just graduating, make sure to include your school history.”
3. List the location where you want to get hired: “Including the city where you are based makes you stand out up to 23 times in searches. Often times, recruiters will use advanced search based on location, so the more details you have the more likely you will be found and connected to your next opportunity.”
4. Include the industry that you want to work in: “Adding your industry of work makes you up to 38 times more likely to be found by recruiters.”
5. Spotlight your skills: “Take a stroll back through your past jobs, passion projects, volunteer gigs and studies, and consider every experience in terms of the skills you gained, not just what your job title happened to be.”
Volunteer the right info
Just like weight loss, reducing stress and the chances of the Cowboys making it to next season’s Super Bowl, there have always been differences of opinion about whether or not to include our experience working with community groups or churches, coaching our child’s sports teams - basically any unpaid volunteer experience - in our resumes. But does the same controversy hold true on LinkedIn? For Fisher, there’s no question that certain volunteer experience should be included in our LinkedIn profiles. And she has some pretty important numbers to back up her opinion. “You can include non-work activities on your profile, but you should only include activities that add value to your career,” Fisher said. “For example, if you’re an athlete you can highlight how you’ve learned to thrive in a fast-paced environment and deliver under pressure. I also always recommend including volunteer experience and causes that you care about on your profile. In fact, profiles with volunteer experiences and causes receive six times more profile views than those without, and 42 percent of hiring managers take this experience as seriously as regular work experience.” If you’re looking for volunteer opportunities, LinkedIn even has a page for that called, “LinkedIn for Volunteers.”
Win the job with words
The old saying goes that, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” But what if words could help you land the job you really want? One of the best ways to build your professional brand on LinkedIn is to publish articles on LinkedIn Pulse, which is a daily news feed customized upon your LinkedIn profile. Your posts go to like-minded professionals that share your professional interests and are a part of your industry. So, if you’re an electrical engineer and you wanted to share with other electrical engineers how you made the flux capacitor from Back to the Future actually work by sending your neighbor’s dog that loves to bark all night back in time, you’d not only get a ton of views, but you’d up your street cred (and probably get a visit from some guys in dark suits as well). But perhaps best of all, from a job hunting standpoint, publishing posts on LinkedIn shows yet another side of you to recruiters and HR professionals. “Publishing on LinkedIn is a great way to amplify your professional voice and get noticed by recruiters,” Fisher said. “You can share thought leadership advice, insights on the day’s top stories or industry trends in order to reinforce your professional experience and build your brand across the professional community.”