Getting a job today is not like it was five or even two years ago.
Having a resume or CV just won’t cut it anymore when you are competing for the job you want. Today you need to have a personal brand that not only shares your education, experience and skills but also speaks to what kind of person you are and what matters to you.
So it is no coincidence that getting and keeping the attention of your ideal employer is in fact very similar to that of a business attracting their ideal clients.
The first and most important thing you need to remember is that first impressions are everything, especially online. You have seconds to make an impression on a potential employer before they size you up and move on.
When they Google you, they’re going to make a quick decision about whether it is worth their time to take a deeper look at you and what you can offer them.
Sound harsh? The world is a cruel and unusual place, my friend.
You need to ensure that what they see shows them that you not only have the skills and experience that they want, but that you would also be a good fit for their team and company culture.
How do you do this?
You start by creating a professional and employer focused LinkedIn profile.
Why should you focus your efforts on LinkedIn first and foremost, rather than the other social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram?
As well as being actively used by 94% of recruiters (but only a third of your competition), LinkedIn profiles will often show up at the top of the search results for your name. It is also the social media platform most likely to be used the upper management and human resource teams of the company that you are interested in.
NOTE: While my focus in this article is to help you use LinkedIn to get the interview you want, you do need to remember that a potential employer will probably check out several if not all of your social media profiles (so make sure they are all hire-worthy before you start).
Here are the most vital areas of your LinkedIn profile that you need to update before setting out to get the interview you want.
Create an Employer Focused LinkedIn Profile
Before Your Start
There are a couple of important things that you need to do, before you start updating your profile.
If you choose NOT to take care of these tasks first, you will render all further work on your LinkedIn profile ineffective.
1. Know Your WHY?
“I am not a business,” you might be thinking. Why do I need to know my Why?
Because this matters to potential employers and they will ask you this as it speaks to your motivation for wanting the job.
If you don’t take the time before starting to figure this out, you won’t be able to articulate it in a clear and succinct way on your LinkedIn profile nor when you land your interview.
2. Identify Your Ideal Employers
You will be able to create a more relevant and effective profile that speaks directly to your ideal employers – if you know who they are.
By establishing before hand who your ideal employers are, you can figure out what matters to them and what their challenges are so you can better communicate how you can help them overcome those challenges as part of their team.
Your headline is the MOST important part of your LinkedIn profile.
Combined with your profile image, your headline is the first impression you give when a potential employer finds you in the search results or lands on your profile page.
You have 120 characters to provide them with a compelling statement to capture their attention, let them know they are in the right place and intrigue them enough to want to click on your profile.
While you want your profile photo to reflect your personality, it MUST also be professional.
This is not Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, so a photo of you with your dog or hanging out with your friends is not appropriate as a profile photo on LinkedIn. It is extremely important when making a first impression through a photo that the image is a head shot with your eyes visible, looking at the camera.
Examples Of Not Good LinkedIn Profile Pics
Examples Of Good LinkedIn Profile Pics
There is a lot of science behind why this is so important and if you are interested, you can learn more about the social psychology of social media profile photos here.
While the cover photo is not as vital as the profile photo, it is an opportunity for you to express something about yourself. Here is a great place to show one of your interests or something that you are passionate about.
Your Summary is the second most important part of your employer focused LinkedIn profile. It is here that potential employers will quickly come to scan to see if you are indeed worth investing further attention to.
It is also here that you have a great chance to connect with and impress them.
While your inclination might be to write this section in 3rd person, you will be far more effective in making a connection if you write in 1st person. You want to speak directly to them, like you are having a conversation.
Start off the section with one or two short paragraphs that address your credibility. You want to demonstrate why you are qualified to do the type of job you are looking to be hired for. This is also a great place to mention any awards or accolades you have achieved. Remember to keep this self-promotion tasteful so it doesn’t come across as bragging.
Next you want to identify the types of companies (and positions) that you are looking to be a part of. This is beneficial as prospective employer’s can quickly see if there’s a fit and also your connections (and potential recruiters) will also easily be able to see what you are looking for and be better able to make relevant introductions to their connections.
Be sure to add a call to action (how they can best contact you), to make it easy for anyone interested, to reach out to you.
For more detail on how to set up your summary section, use my three-part LinkedIn Summary formula as rough guide, replacing the notion of an ideal client with your ideal employers.
You can further improve this section by adding rich media. You don’t want to add just anything here, but this can be a great place to showcase items from a portfolio, a relevant video of you or any other relevant media which will ENHANCE your image, qualifications and professionalism.
Above all else… always come straight from the heart and don’t try to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes. People can sniff out a fraud instantly and you can do some serious damage to your credibility before you’ve even realized it, if you come from a place that’s not genuine or lacking in authenticity.
Your Current and Past Experience sections are a fantastic place to showcase all of your professional experience and the ways that you have helped your previous employers to be more successful.
Explain the types of challenges you overcame in your position, successful projects you worked on and your selected accomplishments to highlight how you can help the next organization you work for.
Make it easy for them to see you as a successful potential member of their team.
If by chance you are relatively new to the workforce, don’t be afraid to include volunteer positions you have held. These positions show the equally valid experience you gained but also speak loudly to your character as someone who likes to give back.
Skills & Recommendations
Your skills and recommendations are the proof behind your words.
Recommendations are a powerful form of social proof as the person has actually taken the time to write about you and your skills.
You should aim for a minimum of three to five recommendations from credible people who can really vouch for you.
The secret to getting recommendations is first and foremost to ASK. When you ask someone for a LinkedIn recommendation, DO NOT use the default message. Be sure that you customize both the subject line and the message.
Secondly, you need to make it easy for people to give them. You can do this by providing examples of the kind of things that you wish them to address in the recommendation i.e. “if you could talk about xx project we worked on and the results that would be great”.
While the endorsement of specific skills do not hold the same weight as a written recommendation, they still provide a level of social proof when you receive endorsements from others.
If a potential employer is taking a quick peruse through your profile, they can quickly scan your skills to see if you have the ones they are looking for and if those same skills have been endorsed by others, this can help to convince them to take a deeper look at your profile.
You can add up to 50 skills to your profile and you should aim to add no less than 10.
NOTE: Only ask people who know you well (and what you can do) for endorsements and recommendations. Your reputation and credibility depend on this.
Not only can employers check out the profiles of the people who have endorsed or recommended you, but they may just message them to get more information.
That being said, if you are just starting out and haven’t had a lot of experience yet, you can ask your colleagues (fellow employees), professors (or other instructors), individuals who have overseen you in some volunteer capacity or well respected individuals in your community that you know well for recommendations.
You might be wondering how joining groups will help you to land an interview.
The reason is simple. Joining groups vastly expands the size of your network. So even if you are only connected to a couple of hundred (or dozen) people, your reachable network will be much larger when you join groups. This is important as you can only search for (or be found by) people in your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree networks or people you share groups with.
But you don’t want to join just large groups. You need to be strategic.
While you can and should join a few groups that interest you, the majority of groups should focus on the industry you wish to work in or groups where you might find those who do the hiring like recruiters, human resources teams, relevant company executives or company owners.
You can join up to 100 groups. Learn more about LinkedIn Groups here.
Other Important Sections
Filling out the other sections of your profile are also very important. These areas show your potential new employers a more complete picture of you as an individual. These areas will tell them who you are and what is important to you, which will help them decide if you are a good fit for their team environment.
Additional areas that you will wish to complete if they are relevant include:
- Additional Info
- Publisher Posts
- Honors & Awards
- Volunteer Experience & Causes
A well written LinkedIn profile is an invaluable resource when you are working to get an interview for a company you wish to work for. Not only can you actively use it to get an interview, it also helps recruiters and potential employers to find you.
What has been your experience using LinkedIn to find a job? Share in the comments below. Know someone who is currently looking for a job? Please share this resource with them.