How to improve your LinkedIn profile when you’re looking for a job

By Ross Coverdale

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If you’re looking to change jobs, you might start your search by scouring job boards, contacting recruiters, asking around your network, and so on. While this is all pretty standard when it comes to looking for a job, the one thing that might not seem so obvious is to consider your social media presence.

Back in 2014 we spoke with Stefan Thomas, author of the bestselling Business Networking for Dummies, about how to be ‘everywhere, all the time’ –  you can catch the video interview here. In his latest book Instant Networking he talks a lot about how social media can be integrated into your networking strategy, so we caught up with him again and asked what steps he would recommend to those looking to engage with recruiters or potential employers.

“Being ‘on’ LinkedIn, or indeed any social platform, is no longer enough. Everyone has a profile on LinkedIn, so the question is, how will you make yours stand out for the right reasons?

When it comes to business networking, I like to refer to a process called Meet–Like–Know–Trust, whereby you build sufficient rapport with people once you’ve met them, that they trust you enough to do business with you, or refer business to you. Broadly the same principle applies here. Once a recruiter or employer hears from you, what else can you do to build that trust so you’re the one that’s contacted over someone else?”

Social networks are a digital extension of the real-world you, and with everything being indexed and searchable, if you’re active in these places it’s easy for you to be found. With over 433 million users and 106 million unique member visits every month (as of April 2016), there’s a lot of activity on the platform, but the opportunities are huge. The question is – what are you going to do to help your profile stand out to the right people?

Make it easier to be found online

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a recruiter, whether they work for an agency or an employer, that doesn’t use LinkedIn to find people for their roles. It’s not the only way of finding people, but even if a candidate isn’t found on LinkedIn there’s a good chance that recruiters will scan through their social media profiles to gain a deeper insight into their skills, experience, and how active they are in their industry.

A great place to start with this is to pimp out your profile. In the same way that companies use SEO to make their websites easier to be found by Google, there are a few things you can do to your profile to make it easier to to be found by recruiters and employers.

Take your LinkedIn headline as an example. Most people use their official job title and company name. While this is the norm for the vast majority of LinkedIn users, stop for a moment and think: does this actually explain what I do? More importantly, does it explain what you can do for your employer? What sort of words might people search for when looking for someone like you? Consider this and find a way to weave them into your headline.

Show people what you do

It’s no real secret that the biggest buzzword in marketing today is content. Companies all over the world are generating content for their audience to build awareness, recognition and trust, whether it’s in blog posts, videos, infographics and so on. What must be the best accidentally-kept secret is that this approach isn’t exclusively just for businesses.

Picture the scene – you apply for a role through the standard job application online route. Nothing fancy about this, just a normal CV and cover letter as expected. The recruiter pops your application to the side along with another very similar candidate, and hops onto the internet. The recruiter finds your profile, along with the other one, and starts perusing. On yours, there’s the usual; job title, work history, a few recommendations and so on. On your competitor’s, there’s the same, but as well as this a handful of blog posts with critical thoughts on where their industry is going and interesting projects they’ve worked on, with comments from colleagues and peers in their space.

You both get interviews, but who do you think is going to have the more interesting conversation?

Stefan Thomas says: “Make sure that your profile and your output of content shows just how passionate you are about what you do. You can demonstrate your knowledge AND show that you are constantly developing that knowledge too.”

Engage and be known

It’s one thing to be able to be found, it’s a whole other to already be in mind.

The best thing about social networking is that it’s so easy to tap into people’s networks by simply showing up and being helpful. Take the time to be active on LinkedIn, on Twitter, whatever platform you choose; just be in the room where the right conversations are taking place.

The vast majority of social users skim through their feeds and don’t actually interact with people, so if you even make the effort to read and comment on other people’s content, you’re going to be miles ahead of most people. You don’t become renowned for just ‘liking’ everything.

The more present you are online, the wider your reach will be in your network, and your network’s reach will increase too.

“As with everything else in life and business, the people who do a tiny bit more than everyone else are recognised for it. The great opportunity is that most people won’t bother, so those who do have a massive and immediate advantage,” says Stefan.

These social marketing strategies are no real secret, as they’re being used by businesses already and they have been doing so for years. Consider how these approaches can be used for your own personal brand and use them to help you further your career.

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank Stefan Thomas for his contributions to this post. If you’d like to grab your copy of his latest book Instant Networking you can do so over on Amazon. Thanks Stefan!

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