Everything in the job search process is now very much online-focused for job candidates; from how you apply to jobs (through online application platforms) to where you find job opportunities (job boards like Monster, Indeed, LinkedIn, etc.) to where you do research companies. On the flip side for companies, how they conduct hiring and vetting of candidates is very online focused too. And aside from the resume that you send when you’re applying, your LinkedIn profile is another hugely important part of your presentation as a candidate.
First, think about the ways employers rely on LinkedIn as for recruiting tool. They use it to:
- Find candidates like you. Recruiters utilize LinkedIn as a powerful recruitment tool, locating candidates who meet certain criteria by searching for keywords, locations, education backgrounds, current employers, and current title.
- Determine whether you’re qualified. When set up appropriately, your LinkedIn profile closely resembles a resume, detailing your work history, professional achievements, educational background, professional references, licenses, and certifications.
- Determine whether you’re a cultural fit. The things you share on social media can help a recruiter learn more about your personal values and determine whether they’re a good match for the organization’s mission, vision, and values.
So given that LinkedIn is playing a bigger and bigger role in the job search these days, here’s what you should know about what your LinkedIn says about you:
What your profile says about you
Your profile is perceived to be a direct reflection of you. Because potential employers are considering your profile to be a direct reflection of your work history, values, and work ethic, it’s important to put time and effort into building your profile and even your activity (shares and likes, for example).
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A barren profile
An empty profile may unintentionally tell an employer that you aren’t qualified or aren’t dedicated enough to the search to update your information. A robust LinkedIn profile that includes your professional background, educational achievements, rewards, certifications, volunteer commitments, areas of professional interest, references, and affiliations may tell a potential employer that you are thorough and qualified.
If there’s no picture on your profile, employers might wonder if you’re even a real person and may pass you by (remember, they pay for every message they send to potential candidates). Likewise, if you aren’t actively sharing scholarly articles and other information related to your field, they may think you’re inactive and pass you by (or that you aren’t interested in continuous improvement and learning).
Political or overly personal shares
Sharing potentially offensive material or strong political views might tell an employer that you struggle to separate your personal views from your professional obligations or that you’re misaligned with the company’s core values.
A private profile
A private profile – that doesn’t allow people you don’t know to see your information, connect with you, or contact you – says that you aren’t interested in learning about new opportunities.
Too many irrelevant goals and interests
Your profile can also tell a story about your career goals and interests. If you have a degree in biology, for example, but your profile is focused on family medicine and includes your goals of becoming a family medicine practitioner, a research company may come to the conclusion that you don’t desire to work as a biologist and pass on contacting you.
How to maximize your profile
Maximizing your LinkedIn profile requires an intentional effort. There are several things you can do with LinkedIn to stand out to potential employers and illustrate your fit for their position and organization:
- Adjust your settings to ensure your profile is public and others can reach out to you with opportunities.
- Keep your profile updated in real times, ensuring that your educational background, location, and other credentials are listed.
- Add keyword tags for your areas of expertise. If you have a degree in business administration, for example, you may use tags like business strategy, human resources management, productivity, strategic planning, financial management, office management, and operations. This ensures that whether an employer is seeking an office manager or an operations manager, they see your profile.
- Include your education background and work history in chronological order to closely resemble your resume.
- Rather than listing duties in previous employment, list your achievements in each position (i.e. reduced turnover by 12% in 12 months; improved productivity by 18% over a single quarter; secured $4m in sales per quarter on average).
- Be purposeful about content you post and share; choose content that demonstrates interest in your field of choice, thought leadership (if applicable) and desire for professional growth and development.
By approaching your LinkedIn profile with purpose, you can improve your chances of getting the right job at the right company.