Yeah, you do need to have one.
All the big guns are on LinkedIn, the biggest professional networking website, and you need to be, too! You see, whether you’re looking for a job, a means of networking, potential customers, investors or talent, LinkedIn is the answer. As of late 2018, LinkedIn had more than half a billion members in more than 200 countries, including executives from all of the Fortune 500 companies. The latter in itself is an indicator of the site turning into an essential for everyone.
By allowing members to upload both their resume and portfolio onto one site, and having them open to the right connections, LinkedIn’s popularity is booming among all sorts of professionals. A study found that 122 million people received an interview through LinkedIn, with 35.5 million being hired by a person they connected with on the site.
So how do you use this channel to catapult your career forward? It all depends on how to use this platform. Here’s how…
Your profile picture is the first thing anyone sees, so if it’s an image of you at a café or club with 10 filters on it, you’re failing at making a great first expression. According to research by LinkedIn, a great display photo will make your profile 14 times more likely to be viewed by others. This is how you can ace that photo:
Make sure it’s up-to-date and shows how you look on the regular.
Don’t be that person with a picture of yourself on top of a bridge. The point of this feature is to make a potential employer or contact learn about you. Your face should take up 60% of the frame.
Look approachable. IRL, you might be used to having a slight smile or a resting bit*h face, but in your professional network, you got to be your friendliest self to get sh*t done. Don’t fake it, but improve your PR game with a genuine intention to get ahead in your career.
Wear clothes that suit your industry and the level of dressiness expected at your office.
Upload an 800×800 high-quality picture that will show up crystal clear on your profile.
Don’t use filters (including the ones available on LinkedIn).
Keeping this blank and boring is normal, but feel free to stand out by stepping away from the norm. The usable size is 1000×1200 pixels. Clueless as to what to put here? Consider these options:
Your company’s branding.
Imagery or words that acts as your life motto or go-to phrase.
Your credentials and achievements.
Tell the world what you do — make it impactful, original and clear! For instance, let’s say you’re in the recruiting department in a tech company, your headline doesn’t have to read as “Recruiting Manager at XYZ”. Instead, it can stand out as “Recruiting the right intelligence to shape the tech world”. The latter description is both powerful and informative at the same time. Apart from that, include keywords that are crucial for your industry so you can connect to like-minded people easily.
This one line will bring more traction than you can expect as it’s visible when your profile is under ‘suggestions’.
The goal is to keep it brief and interesting. Try these tips:
Share your unique story. Talk about the ups and downs of the past. Explain why you failed that subject. Take pride in sharing what’s on your vision board. Also, convey what’s in store in for those who will get to know you (or have you in their team).
Write as you’re speaking. Keep it formal, but conversational — you want people need to read it and not assume it’s yet another professional who is “motivated”, “passionate” and has no original set of vocabulary to express.
Don’t make it only about career. Share a line or two about what you do on the weekends. Say something quirky—for instance, Sunil, 24, mentions how coffee will always be his first love despite being happily married. People love humor so having a little of it will make you appear likable.
Hook the reader in the first few words. It should arouse curiosity in someone and make them want to read the rest to find out more about you. Shalini, 34, has her summary begin as follows: “I’m stubborn about one thing and that keeps me successful in everything I do…” Then, she explains her discipline as the one thing she’s strict about. Simple, yet brilliant. We’re in awe!
Feel free to use bullet forms but don’t make it sloppy, please! Make sure each point leads to something relevant instead of stating random facts.
Don’t forget to attach your portfolio and resume! Potential recruiters may not generally ask for them, so keep it all uploaded.
Highlight your achievements like “winner of award ABC” to make it easier to spot when skimming. This way you have a greater chance of being noticed.
You don’t have to list all your previous jobs unless they are relevant to your current career. And avoid including any volunteering like being the president of the XYZ club as a job experience since it only qualifies as a volunteer experience. Overselling yourself is never attractive.
If you’re a fresh graduate, then consider including your high school details. After your first or second job, start with your college degrees as your school qualification becomes less important with each job you take on.
It’s advisable to add a handful of skills as opposed to a big bunch, helping anyone understand your strengths in one glance. Choose words that match the ones in the job description of the career that you would love to fill. Imagine you’re aiming to apply for Vogue as a fashion assistant, and you set your skills as “fashion” but Vogue’s job description requires “fashion styling” as a skill. By not listing the right phrasing, you might lose the chance of being discovered. What’s more, get your connections to endorse you for what they see in you to make your list credible.
Post articles that convey a message about your passion, hiring practices you prefer or opinion about global events. Finding time might be hard, but starting with two articles per month can take you a level ahead in your job hunting/networking game.
Offer to give recommendations to your colleagues, friends, managers, and everyone you’ve worked with. And don’t hesitate in requesting for a recommendation in return. Approach thought leaders in your go-to industry for a few words that can change the way anyone could look at your profile. At the same time, don’t bother your contacts to the extent they can get annoyed. After all, that’s the last thing you should be doing on a networking site.
Get connected to the right women (and men) from different industries, because you never know where opportunities can come from. It’s always about the quality of the connections rather than the number, so don’t accept or invite individuals that you wouldn’t vibe with — always keep it real! Go ahead and connect with someone you don’t know (if she or he is a valuable employer or contact) by sending a message introducing yourself, and how the connection would be benefiting both of you. Hyshma, 28, scored her first-ever job in her dream company by cold-messaging someone on LinkedIn.
With a stellar LinkedIn account, your profile can go from unknown to recognized in a few easy steps. Whoever discovers you could lead you to that job, raise, award or work visa — you never know what’s coming your way with this level of exposure. So being smart about how you use this platform is crucial. Showcase your strengths and present yourself in the best light possible. Self-promotion is usually debatable unless it’s on LinkedIn!
This article was originally published as “Grow Your Career With LinkedIn” in the September 2019 issue of Cosmopolitan Sri Lanka. For more advice, grab a copy of our latest magazine or subscribe online.
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