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The job hunt is heating up for both employers and candidates alike. As technology continues to evolve, so does the way both parties approach the hiring process. Specifically, social media continues to play a big role in recruiting decisions— according to data from SHRM, 84 percent of organizations are using some form of social media for recruitment.
As a candidate, you’re likely worried about how to present yourself to a prospective employer online. The good news is, social networking platforms like LinkedIn have become a powerful tool for landing the job of your dreams. It might take a little work and some careful editing, but there are plenty of ways to add content to your LinkedIn profile that can help you put your best foot forward when searching for a new job. Let’s take a closer look at a few:
An updated headline
Even if you’re currently unemployed, it’s important to consider the way you introduce your professional credibility. Many people leverage their headlines on LinkedIn to give the most realistic portrayal of their abilities in the least amount of time. Realistically, recruiters are skimming through a vast amount of professional profiles on a daily basis, so creating a succinct yet compelling headline is crucial if you want to stand out. Understandably, distilling who you are as a professional down to one line is tough.
Your headline may be structured differently depending on personal or industry preference, but in general, a good headline should include:
- Career focus (especially for recent graduates. Example: “Recent accounting graduate with a focus in auditing and compliance.”)
- Current job role, even when job hunting (you can combine this with years of experience, a specific accomplishment, or unique value item. Example: “HR Specialist | 4+ years of people experience | Certified HR trainer.”)
- At least one keyword that relates to the job you’re searching for.
Many career coaches caution against inundating an employer with “actively seeking” headlines. A good alternative is to clearly identify what it is you’re seeking. Is it a management role? A specific industry focus? Be clear about what it is you’d be bringing to that role, so an employer won’t have to spend time figuring that out.
Once your headline is finished, you’ll want to focus on developing a strong LinkedIn summary. Your summary is one of the first things recruiters see beyond your profile photo and headline. It’s a chance for you to expand (in up to 2,000 characters) on your professional life and objectives. This is a chance for you to use your imagination, and inject a little personality into your profile. First impressions matter, so consider what elements some of the greatest summaries have in common:
- Shares professional mindset and approach to work.
- Paints a picture of your career journey (have you had an unconventional path? Discovered a new professional passion?)
- Lists current skills and objectives.
- Creates a personal connection.
- Contact information (you want employers to be able to reach out!)
Take this example (handpicked by experts at LinkedIn). This software engineer at Google stands out because he balances a compelling personal story about his relationship with coding that stretches back to his youth with a practical rundown of his competencies and years of working experience. It isn’t overly wordy or self-serving, but rather gives a clear image to a recruiter of what this individual is like as an employee— but also as a person.
Recommendations & Endorsements
Social proof plays a big role in the hiring process. Professional recommendations are an extremely valuable tool for job seekers. A recommendation is a statement written by a LinkedIn member which can be displayed on your profile. They serve as validation to a future employer that you’ve done work well enough that peers and supervisors feel comfortable vouching for your abilities. When looking for work, it’s a smart strategy to identify a list of possible professors, colleagues, and supervisors who can speak to your specific achievements and reach out to solicit their recommendations on a rolling basis. When soliciting a recommendation, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Focus on specifics: rather than “Joe did a great job working for me last year!”, ask an individual to write a recommendation based on a specific project you worked on together. If possible, ask for any numbers or examples an individual can provide to strengthen a recommendation.
- Strike while the iron is hot: Pick individuals that have worked with you in the recent past and are more likely to remember details and numbers-driven achievements.
- Personalize your recommendation requests: don’t just send the same templated ask to everyone on your list.
LinkedIn also allows you to receive endorsements for skills you’ve listed on your profile. Make sure you list plenty of relevant skills and reach out to people in your network to endorse you for those capabilities.
Headshot and cover image
No one likes a boring LinkedIn profile. Statistically, simply having a profile photo can result in 21 times more profile views and 9 times more connection requests. What’s more, including a cover image rather than the static LinkedIn banner shows recruiters that you put time and energy into your professional profile. It’s relatively easy to do and is a great way to stand out from the crowd.
If you don’t have the budget to spend on a professional headshot, that’s okay. Just make sure that the picture you choose is recent, approachable, and above all, professional. Avoid using a selfie, cropping a group picture, or using an image with a distracting background. The focus should be on you!
Details matter when it comes to the job search process. That’s why it’s crucial to structure the information and visual content on your LinkedIn profile in a way that shows recruiters what you bring to the table. It can be scary to look for a new job, and it’s all too easy to compare yourself to other candidates. Focus on showcasing your professionalism and accomplishments, and you’ll be set up for success.