Just a few years ago, employers based their hiring decisions on resumes, interviews, and solid recommendations.
But today, although those things are still important, nothing makes weeding out a candidate easier than social media. Once you’ve passed the digital screen, you then have to measure up to the nearly 400 million profiles on LinkedIn alone. How does your profile stack up against the competition?
Here are a few strategies some of the most successful professionals use to stand out on LinkedIn:
They Include a Photo…
Some of you aren’t sure which photo to feature on your LinkedIn profile, so you opt not to include one at all. This is a big mistake, because after an interview, even if the potential employer doesn’t remember your name, they will likely be able to recall your face when they see it in a photo.
But Not Just Any Photo
Recruiters associate the quality of your photo with your level of intent on finding on a job. “I’m looking for a professional and approachable photo,” says Elizabeth Becker, a recruitment manager for IT staffing firm PROTECH.
“An unprofessional photo is a sign that someone isn’t on LinkedIn for a job, and that’s fine. Not everyone on LinkedIn is looking for their next career move. However, when you are in the market for a new role, a professional headshot is key.”
They Include Contact Details
Make it easier for employers to contact you. That may sound obvious, but it’s a simple step many ignore. Add the link to your online profile in your heading if it fits or in the first line of your bio. Include your email address and best time of day to reach you. If they don’t know how to get in contact with you, employers could skip right past your profile, onto the next one.
They Use the Right Keywords
As more and more people hop on the internet to search and find the things they need, they are using a vast array of keywords. If you’re only using one word to describe your career in “communications” you’re missing out on an entire army of potential business opportunities and recruiters looking for a copywriter, SEO specialist, long-form writer, and more. If you do all of those things, but you’re only using one of those words, you’ll never get found.
Don’t let the task of writing a bio full of keywords worry you. Simply write out your bio how you see fit and immediately after add a list of keywords like this:
The Make It Interesting…
Whoever told you to make your LinkedIn profile as dry and boring as possible, probably didn’t have to read through hundreds of profiles looking for the right candidate.
“From the recruitment standpoint, the worst thing people do on their LinkedIn profiles is not let their personality shine,” adds Becker.
“By adding hobbies, certifications, and any achievements, you’ll give a hiring manager insight into your unique personality and even provide talking points. On my own profile, I list personal achievements like being a published travel and children’s author as well as a produced film and tv scriptwriter.”
“By having these fun details on my profiles, I get a high response rate from candidates, especially if they have a side interest in one of those fields.”
Sure, you can simply list your position title and place of employment, but will this really catch a recruiter’s attention? In your “experience” section, in addition to your job title, describe the things you’re proud of; the things that make you, you.
Then They Blow You Away
Many times, going above and beyond and blowing an employer away doesn’t mean working harder, but smarter. Tim Seidler, a Digital Marketing Manager and founder of Get Niche Quick, did just that.
They Make Videos
“I recently decided to return to the workforce after 2 years of self-employment,” says Tim.
“I knew it was going to be extremely difficult to get noticed in the Seattle job market for a marketing position so I took it upon myself to go above and beyond what my competition was doing. After applying through traditional channels I tracked down the Marketing Director and the Recruiter for the position using LinkedIn.”
“I then created a 10-minute video pitch with my recommendations about what I’d do if awarded the job. I wore normal clothes and sat in front of my computer. I captured my actions assessing their website through a screen recording tool which also captured video of myself through my iMac.”
“I sent the link to the video to both people and was called the next day by the recruiter. Not only had he personally decided to give me a call, but the Marketing Director reached out to him to tell him to put me into the interview process. I was eventually considered for the job, and offered a position at a higher level in the company.”
They Take Out Ads
From the looks of LinkedIn’s pricing, you’d never think you could afford to advertise on the growing social network. But Jack spent just $.001 on his ad and ended up landing a major investment for his startup.
They Show Their Work
With so many recruiters and potential customers scanning your LinkedIn, they’re looking for that key aspect that sets you apart. The best way to do that is through your work.
“If you’re a pro in your field, use the LinkedIn publisher tool to write about it,” says Becker.
“Nothing gets better attention or shows you’re an expert like published content on that subject.”
Did you design a brochure? Did you assist in any type of multimedia work an employer might find impressive? Include it. In this way, you’re not just talking about what you do, but backing it up. It goes without saying that in these content-obsessed times, writing is a skill many employers appreciate.
They Tell the People What They Want
In your summary, include the kind of job you’re looking for, or are interested in. Because so many majors have so many possibilities, it is helpful for employees to see what kind of work you want to be doing before they pursue you any further. Or, if they are impressed, they could refer you to someone they know who is looking for a candidate such as yourself.
They Make (the Right) Connections
The temptation to get your LinkedIn connections past the 500 mark is real. Yes, you may import your contacts. But connecting with people just to connect with them is not only pointless, it may hurt you in the long run.
If you’re going to connect with someone you don’t know, be intentional in the way you go about it. The worst thing I’ve seen people do is connect with someone they don’t know and ask them to “introduce” them to someone else. Not only will they not introduce you, they’ll never connect with you again.
They Make a Custom URL
Make it like your own official website. You can edit your LinkedIn URL to be whatever you want — but make it professional, obviously. The best option is to make it your name. For example. your LinkedIn URL can be www.linkedin.com/in/yourname. This makes it easy for employers to find you. And it looks a lot better than a URL with a lot of random letters and numbers. This can easily be done on the edit page on your LinkedIn.
Finally, They Don’t Ask for Recommendations, They Give Them
This isn’t about being too proud to beg. Instead of waiting around for recommendations, or outright asking for one on LinkedIn, start giving them away.
Giving recommendations to interns, colleagues, co-founders, and other relevant contacts will not only compel them to do the same for you in return, it will increase your visibility on LinkedIn. After giving away 10 recommendations, you now show up on your own profile and 10 other profile pages. This means you just multiplied your connects by infinity.