Following on from the recent blog on face-to-face networking and how important getting you out and about is for your career, the question now is, has LinkedIn become the new CV/resume? Of course well crafted & up to date CV/resume is primarily a historical document of your experiences, skills, abilities & competencies etc and is still necessary for most jobs you may be applying for. However, utilising LinkedIn can add a more dynamic dimension to your job searching strategy. You can continually update your profile, make great connections and interact with groups and individuals that can help to connect you to those less visible career opportunities.
How does LinkedIn work?
So how does LinkedIn work for those that are less comfortable with the technology. Well getting a LinkedIn account is very straight forward. With a little guidance and support for those not familiar with the Internet, you can start creating your LinkedIn profile. Using LinkedIn will help you with your personal marketing & support your employment brand better than a CV/resume can do alone. It’s less about a list of what we have done in the past, but more focused on letting people know what you can do and you we can help them. Indeed working side by side a CV & LinkedIn is a powerful tool for your chances of getting the job or career transition you want. So being on LinkedIn means you can use it as part of your job search strategy, seeking out new job posts, doing your research, identifying people for fact-finding interviews and so on.
Needless to say recruiters are all over LinkedIn looking for likely candidates for jobs. It is an opportunity for the recruiter to look at your key skills and experiences etc and how you develop and sell yourself within the limited space of the background summary. In the summary – you get 2000 characters and you should try to use them all. Use this space perhaps like a covering letter to engage with the reader and provide examples and details that will make them want to find out more about you. Creating that killer narrative is a great way to engage virtually with your contacts so that they remember you and your career story. LinkedIn is a huge database and by using relevant key words they can quickly find the people they need.
Can it go horribly wrong?
So what can go wrong with your Linked In profile? If recruiters and potential employers look you up what will they find? It could be a partly completed profile or nothing at all. If you are not found at all, what message are you giving to the recruiter? Perhaps that you are a cyber scaredy-cat and, as a result, providing a negative impressions of yourself? Too many fail to get the best out of LinkedIn sadly, their profile is incomplete, they don’t have a photo and there is nothing compelling about the information they want to share. Registering for LinkedIn and not doing much with it is like joining to an expensive gym and expecting somehow to get fit – believe me you have to do the work. You only get out what you put in.
Indeed the great benefit of LinkedIn is that you don’t have to be constrained by your CV/resume but can select highlights from each role that you want to share. You can impress others with ideas or research reviews or join in on group discussions to help you get known and recognised. The reader will at least skim read through your profile – and will be drawn to the recommendations of your work. Do you have any and what do they say? The people who recommend you can be powerful advocates of you and your strengths and as the recommendations are linked back to a person, there is a much higher level of trust. Providing recommendations is also important, it gets you noticed on other users pages and also demonstrates your judgement & skills.
So to utilise Linked In effectively for your job search or career change here are a few pointers you may want to consider –
- Try to write in the first person, not the third. Include interesting insights into your character, not just what you have done, emphasise key words and accomplishments.
- Use an up to date professional picture, no wacky images. Beware if you are searchable with LinkedIn you are likely to searchable via Facebook & Twitter etc. So bear in mind your on-line profiles and not too extreme so that it puts recruiters off.
- Include key words throughout your profile. For example, copy-writing or social media.
- Take account of any company confidentiality policy, and do not include any confidential details. If currently in work don’t tick the looking for job opportunities box, you will still be found, try not to make it too obvious you are looking for a new role.
- Aim for up to 8 work related recommendations at the beginning but try to get as many as you can. it’s far more effective to have other people write a recommendation than you talk about how great you are.
- Improve your visibility by asking providing questions & providing important answers – join relevant groups. Be mindful of language on-line as with email it can be misconstrued and misinterpreted
- Join groups related to your background and desired work related goals so you can identify relevant jobs.
- Include a link to your Linked In profile on your CV and email signature to encourage people to find out more about you.
So is LinkedIn your new CV/Resume?
Well no. You will need both a great CV/resume and utilise social media platforms such as LinkedIn to your advantage. Clearly recruiters will use all platforms at their disposal to fill vacancies in the quickest and convenient way possible; and LinkedIn allows them to see you and your skills better and perhaps more up to date. LinkedIn therefore is part of your job searching strategy and to not use it you may not be utilising every tool available to you. LinkedIn can put you in-front of those people that help you change career or get that job that you are striving for. So if you can’t be found on-line will recruiters take your application forward – is that a risk you want to take?