How to succeed on LinkedIn

A LinkedIn profile which gives a professional, relevant and accurate picture of your career or working background is important in a time where it will be the second place a prospective employer will look after reading your CV.

LinkedIn, bought by Microsft this week in a deal worth $26 billion, has over 400 million users and it’s a different social media channel to all of the others because it’s solely intended as a network for professionals.

This means that there are different expectations than the other channels; such as the content you post, the way your profile appears and the general etiquette of the channel. I’ll come on to these shortly.

Firstly, why is LinkedIn so important? Well, naturally, when you have 400 million users and as a result, 400 million online CVs, you’re going to have a lot of eyes on you from potential employers and recruiters. Never have we been so accessible as candidates and potential employees so naturally both businesses and recruitment agencies are frequently scouring LinkedIn for talent.

Why do I know this? Because I’ve recently attended Recruitment conferences and all of the conversation was around targeting candidates on social media and primarily, LinkedIn.

What does this mean for you? It means you potentially miss the opportunity for you to secure a role or be informed of a role if your LinkedIn profile isn’t up to the mark. How would you feel if you knew a recruiter had decided not to push your dream job your way because your LinkedIn profile was in a bad way or worse, showed you in an unprofessional light?

This is why it’s important you get the LinkedIn profile right and I’m going to tell you how to do this AND some vital other tips for getting the most out of your profile.

LinkedIn Profile Basics

This is my profile…

LinkedIn Profile

This is the first part of your LinkedIn profile anyone will see when they visit your site. Essentials are:

  • Professional profile picture (no beach pics, pub pics etc)
  • Current role
  • Location
  • Employment history

LinkedIn makes it easier to fill out this information, simply click on the text and you can add the required detail.

LinkedIn Summary

LinkedIn allow you quite a lot of room to add a number of paragraphs of information in your summary statement. Like the summary/profile on your CV this should cover some essentials but you can add more detail in your LinkedIn profile than you would in your CV.

  • Make it punchy. Does it grab people? Would it make you stand out?
  • Be proud. Don’t be modest and be proud of who you are and what you’ve achieved (and explain it!)
  • The right number of words. One sentence is too short, five paragraphs would be too long. You ideally want one or two paragraphs which reflect who you are, what you’re passionate about and what your career goals are.

Experience

Your experience is likely to mimic what you’ve got in your CV but like with the Summary section you’re afforded more room to add more detail. Do you want to add more than your CV? Probably not. Nobody is likely to want to spend too much time reading your LinkedIn profile, the same as they won’t with your profile. My advice? Cover achievements and key responsibilities in a bullet list and do not write long paragraphs about your role.

  • Break your role down into 5-6 bullet points
  • Ideally, write what you achieved using action verbs
    • “Improved the recruitment process by….”
    • “Saved the business £10,000 by…”
    • “Created a robust process through…”
  • If writing an achievement make sure you highlight the outcome (the benefit)
  • Again, not too wordy
  • If you list your responsibilities keep them brief, do not list every responsibility you had in the role

Other Information

You can also add other relevant information about your qualifications and background.

Education: The older you get the less important things like your GCSEs are. If you’re 22, they’re probably relevant but if you’re in your mid-30s and above just list your degree or college qualification.

Interests: Like your CV, short and sweet. No need to describe the ins and outs of your hobbies.

Volunteer: Seeing volunteer experience in a profile is useful because it tells you something about a person but it’s not going to make you any more likely to get a job than someone who hasn’t volunteered. Add only if relevant.

Honours & Awards: Add any awards achieved within previous roles or university etc. Again, these would show positively although are unlikely to matter when it comes to interviews.

Courses: If relevant to your career and likely future roles then do list any courses you’ve undertaken within employment.

The End Goal?

LinkedIn Profile

LinkedIn will let you know if there’s work to do to improve your profile and you should aim for the “All-Start” rating it gives you once you’ve filled out all the most important sections of your profile.

LinkedIn Etiquette

Because LinkedIn’s a professional network there are slightly different expectations in terms of how you behave and use the social media channel.

  • When asking someone to connect, it’s good etiquette to include a message which tells them why you want to connect. If this is a current or recent colleague it’s not so important but if it’s someone you met at a conference 6 months ago it’s recommended.
  • Try to keep posts to career/work based topics
  • Avoid swearing or any other comment/language you wouldn’t use in a work/office environment

Build your network

Whilst being an online form of your CV, LinkedIn is essentially a networking tool and hence it’s important you work on this aspect of the platform. If you join and only have a handful of connections you’re not going to make the most of your LinkedIn account.

How many connections should I have? I would recommend setting a target of 300 if you’re starting out. Yes, you do know that many people.

How do I do that?

  • Like other networks, LinkedIn will suggest people to connect with and this is a great way to start.
  • Other than that, use the search function. Search for colleagues past & present and connect with them.
  • Also, consider key influencers and people at companies you may want to work at but remember to add a message when you connect otherwise they might ignore your request.

Why is LinkedIn suggesting I connect with people I don’t know?

LinkedIn will try to guess who you know by common connections. So, when LinkedIn recommends someone you might know you can see in a little icon below their name who your common connections are.

Not clear? Ok, say you had 0 connections. You start adding people from your current company and what happens? LinkedIn finds more people from that company and recommends them. How do they know to do this? They’ve looked at who you’re connecting with and spot a trend.

If you then add some friends, you’ll see more friends appear on the recommendations list.

Now, say one of your friends (John) is connected to a colleague (Bob) and LinkedIn recommends you connect with (Joe) but you don’t actually know (Joe). LinkedIn will look at this and say, “Ok, because John and Bob both know Joe there’s a chance Simon (me) will know Joe, so I’ll recommend that Simon follows Joe” and that’s how it works.

So, when you’re sat there wondering why it’s suggesting certain people it’ll be because you’ve got links via connections you already have.

What are 1st level and 2nd level connections?

1st level: You’re connected to them.

2nd level: They’re connected to someone you’re connected with.

Are connections the only LinkedIn metric that matters? No, it’s not. If you’re thinking of looking for a job in the near future you need to get your profile seen. How do you judge this?

LinkedIn Profile Views

This data is found by going into the ‘Who’s viewed my profile?’ link and it’s important.

If you’ve been dormant on LinkedIn for some time and you’ve just checked this stat on your own profile it’s probably pretty low? Yes? Well, no problem – it can be fixed.

How do I get my profile views up? 

LinkedIn is no different than other social media channels in this respect, it’s all about being active and engagement. If you don’t visit the site often you won’t get many profile views but if you’re on there frequently and being active you’ll see your profile views increase.

  • Like other people’s posts
  • Comment on relevant conversations
  • Share interesting images

Do these 3 simple actions a few times a week and you’ll see your profile views increase and hence more people will be aware of you.

If you’re not particularly looking for a job then your profile views aren’t too important but if you’re about to start looking I’d make this a key activity. Especially as you want to give recruitment agencies and potential employers a chance to spot you.

LinkedIn Premium

Do you need LinkedIn Premium? Not really. The high majority of users won’t have premium and it’s quite expensive. Does it give you an advantage when job searching? Probably not given the features include seeing who’s viewed your profile and emailing people.

What other features are there?

Groups: You can find groups on almost any subject and these are typically interest groups. That is, you join them to take part in discussions around the particular area of interest. These can be a good way to make connections which could lead to future job opportunities.

Companies: Many companies have a LinkedIn page and they use this to build the profile of their business. If you’re interested in working at a company you can find their page, follow it and see what content they’re pushing out. Also, and this is key, you can see who works at the company.

Why is this important? Well, if you want to ask about possible vacancies what better way than to try and make contact with a manager of that division or someone within the HR team? Beware: You need to be tactful and professional in any such communication.

Pulse: This is LinkedIn’s blogging platform. Again, thinking about raising your profile and being noticed, posting blogs and articles on Pulse would be a great way to make people aware of who you are, what you know and what you’re passionate about.

To summarise?

  • Ensure your profile is complete
  • Be active and engage with content
  • Utilise LinkedIn as a networking tool and keep in touch with people who you may need to help you identify future roles

Keep an eye out on this blog as I’ll be adding a new article soon which explains how you search for jobs on social media.

Do you have any other tips to share for LinkedIn? If so, please let me know by commenting below.

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