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What happened in May 2003? Severe weather spawned more tornados in a single week in the US than ever before. The world’s first deer cloned by scientists was born (named Dewey, by the way).
And, following its founding just a few months before, LinkedIn was officially launched.
Since then, LinkedIn has become, in its own words, ‘the world’s largest professional network’, with over 400 million members using it to display an online CV, to forge professional connections and, in millions of cases, find new jobs.
LinkedIn is an absolutely crucial tool in any recruitment consultant’s arsenal. We use it to keep track of our (huge) professional networks, to find candidates who may not yet be actively looking for a new position but will be soon, and to share news, views and of course, new vacancies from our own teams. We couldn’t work without it.
If you want to keep informed of the most exciting job opportunities in your sector and take a really active role in building your career, then LinkedIn will probably be very useful for you. Nevertheless, it can be difficult to know how to maximise its usefulness – and minimise those unwanted contacts! Here are our top tips:
The two factors on which potential employers are most likely to search for you are your ‘professional headline’ and your location. Make sure that both are accurate and informative. Your headline should include your job title and possibly even some very brief detail about your responsibilities or sector. When you are actively searching for a new opportunity, you can include words to this effect too. Try not to include any company-specific jargon that will not make sense to a wider audience.
IT’S ALL IN THE DETAIL
In terms of detail levels, your LinkedIn profile should follow the same principles as your CV. Be crisp and concise, but don’t omit fantastic achievements for the sake of space. Use bullet points and generous spacing rather than huge blocks of text, so that a reader can quickly scan and pick out the key points.
A PICTURE PAINTS A THOUSAND WORDS
As ever, including a profile photo makes you more searchable and adds life to your profile page. Remember how LinkedIn positions itself – as a professional network. Comedy photos are not recommended – however funny you think they are.
KEEP ON BRAND
Your employer may have a standard policy for all employees regarding LinkedIn profiles – a corporate boilerplate that you must include in your job description, for example. Make sure you’re away of whether this is the case, and tailor your profile accordingly. Similarly, ensure that each position in your work history links through to the official, branded LinkedIn page for that company. This helps potential employers to easily explore where you’ve worked in the past, and allows you to benefit from association with any major brands you’ve worked for.
NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK
Get into the habit of adding people on LinkedIn whenever you start a new position, take on a new client, or meet people at a networking event. This is standard professional practice these days, and won’t be viewed as being pushy. It will help you extend your online network in highly relevant channels. You never know who knows someone who knows someone…
LinkedIn now includes its own blogging platform, which is a free and easy way of tipping your toe in the blogging waters. A blog can be a powerful way of setting out your expertise in a particular area, and showcasing your personality. Remember, as with your profile picture, that LinkedIn is a professional environment. This is not the place for sharing what you had for dinner last night – unless that meal gave you a fantastic new insight into your industry!
Whenever you make an edit to your LinkedIn profile, the website will allow you to choose whether you want to publicise that change to your network. Unless you are actively looking for a new position and your current employer knows this, perhaps because you’re getting to the end of a fixed-term contract, it’s usually best to switch off this option.