8 min read
While I was writing my three-part series, Writing Secrets for Job Hunters, I intended to include information on how to use LinkedIn to find a job.
But, it turned out I had too many tips and tricks to include in my final post, so I thought I’d write a post dedicated 100% to maximizing your job search efforts using LinkedIn.
I’m not only sticking to writing tips—I’m also including some general tips to help you master the site.
And I didn’t leave my freelancer friends out this time! These tips apply for both freelancers and full-time employees.
But first, if you haven’t read my other job hunting posts, you can check them out here:
- Avoid These Cover Letter Mistakes
- Resumes vs. Robots (How to Outsmart Screening Software)
- How to Avoid Job Sites Altogether
Now on to some LinkedIn secrets…
Lots of people only casually use LinkedIn. They have a profile with one or two job titles, a generic profile summary, and they never log in to keep up with their contacts.
If this sounds like you, it’s not doing you any favours.
You can seriously maximize job search efforts by knowing a few tricks…
Here are some tips to help you spruce up your LinkedIn profile, and help you stand out to recruiters.
Make LinkedIn a habit
LinkedIn has the potential to put you directly in front of people who are looking for candidates every day.
There are SO MANY hiring managers, HR staff, and agency recruiters on LinkedIn. I’ve been unexpectedly headhunted before, and so have friends of mine.
Log in to LinkedIn at least once a week to check out what your colleagues are posting, read news about your industry, and congratulate your colleagues about reaching any milestones.
Use it to research your field or desired companies as a job hunter.
Choose your photo wisely
Don’t just use any old photo you have and avoid using any that were taken during your last pub crawl.
Think about your audience. Use a professional-looking profile photo that clearly shows your face. Use it to show potential employers how you’d turn up to a job interview. Convey that you’re friendly and easy to work with.
Re-frame your thinking
As job hunters, we often see ourselves as grasping at a chance for an interview. We believe we’re in the powerless position in the relationship, but this isn’t really how the company feels about it.
The hiring process is very expensive for companies and is generally a huge hassle to them. They’re seeking a competent, confident professional who can bring value to their team, and there’s a lot of risk for them.
Hiring someone who does a bad job, or who will just leave quickly can potentially cost them tens of thousands of dollars.
Despite how it might feel sometimes, they’re not dangling a carrot.
The majority of companies don’t want a clock-puncher.
Someone who checks in, does as their told, and checks out?
They want someone engaged, enthusiastic, and ready to bring their problem-solving expertise.
Instead of thinking of yourself as someone hoping for a chance at a job, re-imagine yourself as someone able to bring value to any company you go to.
Point is, don’t think of the job hunt as a one-way search.
Remember that employers are also searching, and you’ve got something they’re looking for.
Often times, it’s just a matter of clearly making employers see you have the right skills for them.
If you’re treating your LinkedIn account as just a list of things you’ve done and can do, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Treat it like the marketing tool it is, and use it to show your passion, drive, and expertise.
Most importantly, describe what you can do for anyone who hires you.
Hone that headline
Over 90% of recruiters use social media to find and vet candidates, and a large part of that is done through LinkedIn.
Because of this, headlines are golden. It’s one of the main areas that keyword searches pull from when looking for results, so think twice before you put something generic in there.
Think as a recruiter thinks.
When they go to LinkedIn to look for a potential candidate, they’ll be using keywords. The trick here to succinctly convey what you do to anyone looking at your profile, but also to improve your chances of being found through a keyword search.
Many people don’t even think about filling out this part strategically, but when you’re job hunting or are looking for freelance work, it’s a must. You also have 120 characters to get across your message, so you can include more than just your job title.
The catch: You need to know, specifically, what work you’re looking for. Listing yourself as a generalist really isn’t going to help your job search.
Guess what? I listed myself as a generalist for years, and have realized the error of my ways.
You should know and target your niche if you want to see career success.
In fact, I re-wrote my headline here. Let’s take a look at my own before and after.
My ‘before’ simply says that I’m a writer an editor:
Now, I do a lot of writing, editing, and content marketing work for healthcare companies, and have started to focus on this niche, but if someone searched “healthcare writer” on LinkedIn, I probably wouldn’t show up in their results because “healthcare” isn’t in my headline.
Let’s do a search and find out who DOES show up:
Here the first two results (names and faces omitted to protect privacy):
As you can see, people who listed both “writer” and “healthcare” in their headline came up, and this continued for the whole first page of results (and probably beyond, I just didn’t check). The profiles didn’t even have to list the search terms in sequence to be found.
So, knowing this, let’s change my profile:
Ahh, much better.
Now I’m sure my ranking won’t change right away, but I’m off to the right start.
There are a sea of writers on LinkedIn, but many fewer in the healthcare writing niche, and fewer still who have filled out their headline using the terms “healthcare writer,” so this places me in a good position.
Also, anyone who comes to my profile through a name search, through a colleague, or through my website or my articles will know exactly what I do because my headline is focused and targeted.
Show them why they need you: I’ve also focused on the results I give my clients—growing their audience. This shows that I know what my goal is as a writer for these companies, and that I’m focused on delivering that.
Try it out!
Do you own searches and experiment. You can always change your information, or re-orient to a different target audience. Remember to think like a recruiter thinks.
Re-write your profile summary
In my cover letter article, I mentioned that I re-wrote a colleague’s LinkedIn profile and that she was contacted by a recruiter and hired within two weeks.
This is because I focused on what she loved, what she was good at, and her results.
Before you re-write your summary, think about your values, what you excel at, what motivates you, and what you love about your work.
Note: If you’re aiming to change fields, I realize this can be tricky. If you’re currently employed and don’t want to alert your current boss to the fact that you’re looking for work in another area, you need to be a bit stealth about your search. If you’re changing careers, gently nudge your experience and qualifications towards the goals of your ideal employer.
For example, I truly love helping people excel at things they find difficult or puzzling.
(It’s the main reason I’m writing a series of blog posts about career hunting even though that’s not my target writing niche.)
I’m aiming to write more blog posts and marketing content that is instructional and education for healthcare and education companies, so I focused on that in my summary:
For this to be a real humdinger of a profile, I’d need to include some stats that show content performance. I would have concrete examples of shares, increased engagement percentages, etc.
Recruiters love when you quantify your results and use numbers. But at the moment, I just don’t have those numbers in my desired niche. So those will have to wait.
For the AV kids: You can add video, audio, images, and other snazzy content to showcase your work in this section. If you’re in the arts, or have work that would fit here, add it. But only if it’s stellar and related to what you want to pursue.
Write articles using LinkedIn Publisher
After publishing only three articles on LinkedIn Publisher, I’ve gotten in touch with old colleagues, increased traffic to my blog by over 200%, increased the number of page views on my website by 400%, and have been contacted for freelance work from two sources (one, a blog-writing opportunity.)
Seriously, I didn’t expect that.
It’s a great way to showcase that you know your stuff, and gets eyes on your profile. The more people like your posts, the more people see your writing because those likes get shared with their connections, and so on.
Main pointer with this one? Make your stuff interesting.
Use photos, write engaging headlines, be informative or funny. Make a promise to the reader, and fulfill that promise. Be useful. It’s not about you, it’s about them.
Think about it. Why should they spend 5-10 minutes out of their day to read one of your articles? It should be either informative or entertaining.
Oh, and another thing: Don’t thumb your nose at the thumbnail.
Make sure your thumbnails for your articles are interesting or visually engaging.
Please, no stock office photography.
Case in point. I first used the below thumbnail image on my cover letter article on LinkedIn Publisher and on my blog.
But a few days after I published it, I realized it was kinda drab. So I added some colour using Photoshop, and voila:
More interesting, no? Très clickable, oui?
I definitely think so. And so do the people clicking the thumbnail on my site.
Ask your contacts for introductions
One of the best ways to get a job is to forget applying to things on job boards, and to narrow your ideal companies down to a list of 10 or 20, and focus on researching and finding contacts there.
Ask employees for informational interviews, or try to connect on LinkedIn through a mutual contact. If someone is a 2nd degree connection on LinkedIn, you can go to their profile and click “Request Introduction,” which will guide you to one of your mutual contacts who can make this introduction. You can read a teeny guide on this by clicking here.
Did you like this article? If so, please share, and let me know with a comment. Do you have your own LinkedIn ideas? Let me know!