LinkedIn is a powerful tool in terms of job searching and networking: having a complete and compelling profile can help you land the job of your dreams. LinkedIn helps you build your own brand, connect with potential employers and colleagues, as well as build your professional reputation. Therefore, it is important for you to use the right etiquette and make use of this social network wisely. Here are a few tips:
The basic rule: do not do on LinkedIn what you would not do in the workplace
LinkedIn is a professional platform, meant to be used in a professional setting. Do not post on LinkedIn what you would feel comfortable posting on Facebook: pictures of your lunch and videos of your dog do not have their place on LinkedIn; keep them for your other social media. The same rule applies to language: what you would not say in the workplace, do not say on LinkedIn. Times are changing and social platforms become less and less formal, but view LinkedIn as a reflection of your professional self, therefore use a language that you would use when writing official emails for instance. The last thing you want is to damage your credibility in front of potential employers, who would assume that if you are not able to use a professional language and attitude online, you may not be able to do so within their company either. Employ business etiquette.
Use a professional profile picture
Your headshot is one of the first elements people will see on your profile because visuals attract the eye faster than text. According to LinkedIn, profiles with headshots are 14 times more likely to be viewed than those without. Make a good impression: use a picture where you are alone, with a clear background, free from logos. Stay away from group pictures and cropped vacation photos. Smiling is allowed!
Fill up all your profile categories
The more elements you will have on your profile, the better. It will help potential employers getting to know you. Do not discount internships, volunteering, part-time jobs, and summer jobs — these are important. They will show companies you already have some work experience or at least already experience a professional setting. Data shows that profiles that have 2 or more experiences listed have about 36 times more views than profiles that do not. Do not neglect things like campus involvement, projects, and organizations: they will showcase your personality, and what you are interested in. However, make sure you are always using the right section for each type of activity.
Show potential employers would you can bring to their company
Do not be afraid to show off – your goal is to demonstrate you are the best candidate. But avoid focusing too much on yourself. Instead, try focusing on what you can bring to a company (especially regarding work experience). This means that when filling out your experience sections, focus on accomplishments. If you speak several languages, does that mean you are able to interview and write/translate in those languages? If you were asked to manage social media accounts, explain how your work succeeded increasing audience engagement on that social media platform? The key is here to transform what you worked on into a set of skills that employers will be attracted to and interested in. People will not care about what you can do, they will care about what you can do for them.
Personalize your invites
When sending invitations to connect with people, personalize your request. Avoid using the default connection invitation, and take time to do some research on your new connection instead, in order to be able to personalize your request. That way, you will improve the chances of your invitation to be accepted. Moreover, personalized messages will limit people’s use of the “I don’t know this person” feature, which — if received in excessive number — could lead to your account being restricted.
Build relationships — not connections
When your invites get accepted, congratulations, you just made a connection. But what you want to aim for is creating a relationship. Collecting connections is useless if you do not use these new contacts opportunities to grow your visibility. In order to do that, you can start by sending a personalized thank you note to your new connection, including some details about them that prove you did your research. However, avoid asking for any help straight away, or you will break the relationship before it even starts. Take the time to build a conversation in telling your connection how you ended up on their profile, what you are impressed by in their career path, and then tell them what you expect out of the conversation. Getting a new connection is like collecting a business card: if you do not follow up nor take the time to get to know people, you will not develop your network.
Update your profile regularly. This means adding your last work experience, skill, or just change your profile photo to a more recent one. Show your connections that you are present and engaging, in sharing status updates, videos, articles, commenting on posts, and paying attention to notifications. These will increase your visibility and allow your connections to engage with your content. Make sure to log into your account regularly, and respond to messages quickly. Check your LinkedIn inbox often, for the faster you respond to a message, the stronger the relationship you create. It also proves to potential employers that you are responsive, interested, and reliable.
Use your alumni network
If you are still a student or just graduated, LinkedIn is a wonderful tool to put you in contact with your university’s alumni network. It will allow you, through the use of filters, to find who has similar study paths as yours, where they work now, and what they do at that company. You can ask these contacts how they landed their position, what skills they showcased, what was the process of being hired, and if their company is currently looking to hire. Having someone “on the inside” can be particularly powerful, especially in journalism where networking is a such big part of the job. Securing a job nowadays usually does not result from applying to a job offer, but rather from knowing the right person in the industry, and selling your profile and skills to these people. Keep that in mind.
These tips were gathered from the University of Mississippi’s Career Center “Rock Your Profile with LinkedIn” event, as well as this article from Top Dog Social Media, and the SPJ 2020 Conference “Don’t Bury the Lede: Resume Clinic and Job Search Hacks.”