Job searching? Top five tips for using LinkedIn

Posted on May 22, 2015 by Eleanor McKenzie
Woman in glasses reading on a laptop

There are 347 million LinkedIn users and two new people join every second. Its members live in 200 countries, speak 20 languages and 40% of members check in daily. It is these stats that makes LinkedIn the social media channel of choice for job seekers and entrepreneurs. Are you looking for a new career, or are you a 50+ mogul with a new business start-up? Then you should be on LinkedIn. Even if you already have a job and your business is doing well, you should still be thinking about setting up a LinkedIn profile.

Recently, I attended an International Women’s Day conference for small business owners and the people that provide them with services, such as writers and bloggers like myself. One of the speakers, Dorothy Dalton, an executive career coach with considerable experience under her belt, challenged many of the audience’s preconceptions about LinkedIn, including my own. Indeed, I left the conference realising that I should be paying far more attention to my profile than I do currently.

LinkedIn is better than Facebook or Twitter for meeting people who will hire you and people you can do business with. But, your LinkedIn profile needs to grab attention and convey the right message. Here are five top tips to creating a powerful LinkedIn profile.

Tip 1 – perfect your profile

The profile’s the thing! Shakespeare might have written that line for Hamlet if the young Prince had been using LinkedIn to get a job rather than hunting down his father’s killer.

It’s essential to have a well-written profile that demonstrates your experience and skills as assets that any employer would want to snap up. LinkedIn has some 347 million members, so you need to work hard to stand out.

If you really can’t write it yourself, work with a professional writer who excels at this type of writing. Don’t hire the person who says they’re a writer; hire one who has experience in this niche. Write down every skill and experience you can think of, then, figure out with your writer how to parley that into an outstanding profile.

Tip 2 – get a professional photograph

Get a professional photo taken. Make sure it fits LinkedIn file size requirements. Don’t use a selfie from your phone, or a family snap, if you want potential employers to take your LinkedIn profile seriously. Get your hair done, think about the image you want to project and dress appropriately. Browse through LinkedIn profiles and see which pictures you think work, and aim for that style. On no account must you leave the profile photo empty and don’t use a logo. It’s well known that being anonymous kills off contacts.

Tip 3 – build your connections

Set aside time to work at this. It’s a process and you should pencil in time weekly to sit on LinkedIn and browse purposefully. Career coaching sources suggest that you won’t get work through your direct contacts, but through their contacts and so on. It’s a ripple effect and one Dorothy Dalton spoke at length about. For example, she has almost 6,000 followers on LinkedIn, so her ‘ripple’ effect and reach is considerable, when you consider that each one of those followers also has contacts. Before you know it, you can reach hundreds of thousands. Here’s a useful LinkedIn post Dorothy wrote for women about the importance of a strong profile and online presence.

Import your full contacts list, even if it does include people you went to primary school with. They might just turn out to be your next employer/client. Join LinkedIn groups in your field and engage with them, comment on posts, and post helpful information that shows your expertise.

Congratulate people, endorse them for skills and when you invite people to connect with you, include a personal message. You will find some ‘spammers’ want to connect with you, so don’t accept everyone as a contact, but if a person wants to connect with you and they work in a field you’re interested in, or for a company you’d like to work for, then accept them, even if they are a stranger.

According to Dorothy, you shouldn’t need to pay for the LinkedIn premium service providing you work at making connections and optimise your profile page by working on a list of keywords. Using hashtags is not just a Twitter tool, you should use them on LinkedIn as well.

Tip 4 – focus on skills

Avoid writing a standard job description for each of your places of employment and instead focus on the skills you acquired in various jobs. Achievements, such as increasing sales by a specified amount, will work really well for you on LinkedIn. If you’ve had numerous jobs, decide whether you want to include absolutely every one in your profile, or select the ones that best showcase your skills. Don’t forget to include your qualifications, including any recent ones. Also, volunteer and charity experience is a big draw on LinkedIn, so highlight your experience in this area.

Tip 5 – work on the headline

Back to the beginning – write and rewrite your headline. Make sure it captures the essence of you – and catches other LinkedIn members’ attention. And, then there’s the personal summary. Link your past experience to your future wishes and the skills you have that link the two. Give it all your energy and passion, and you’ll have a LinkedIn profile that will help you hit the ground running in your job search. Get all these elements right and you’ll be part of the LinkedIn ripple effect without paying a penny.

Top tips for job searching on Linkedin

by Eleanor McKenzie

Eleanor McKenzie is a Northern Irish writer with a passion for art, literature, and red wine. She's worked at advertising agency JWT, edited a journal for a European social policy think tank and tried to teach teenagers the difference between "there" and "their". Being 50+ has not significantly changed Eleanor's life, although she finds it a handy excuse when she wants to avoid anything too energetic.