How to Find Your Next Job via LinkedIn
When someone searches for your name on Google, what will they find? Probably your Instagram, maybe Twitter, and perhaps some old photos on an outdated Facebook profile.
What if it happens to be a prospective employer or business partner who’s Googling you? You’d probably want them to find more than some random Instagram pictures, right?
Instead, you want to present a professional image — a picture of the work you’ve done and the work you hope to do. At the very least, you want your information to come up, and not someone else’s.
While the best way to achieve this is to build a personal website, LinkedIn is an easy way to quickly establish an internet presence that people can check out when they type your name into Google.
And unlike an embarrassing Facebook timeline, your LinkedIn is a social media profile you want potential employers to find when they search for you.
For example, here’s what happens when I Google my name (using Incognito Mode to ensure that the results aren’t biased):
While my personal website comes up first (all according to plan), you can see that my LinkedIn profile shows up second.
With one click, you instantly know more about me than I could ever convey in a double-sided resume.
Long story short: LinkedIn matters. The next step? Building an all-star profile on the platform, using the following 5 steps to make it shine:
- Stunning summary
- Clever keywords
- Beautiful background
- Stellar skills
- Astounding accomplishments
Craft a stunning summary
Of all sections on your LinkedIn profile, the summary is by far the most intimidating. It’s long, empty, and tempting to skip.
Just because it’s optional, however, doesn’t mean you should leave it out. It’s a chance to tell a more detailed story about yourself and your career while also showcasing your writing skills.
- Lots of white space. You may not have noticed it consciously, but this article uses lots of white space. None of the paragraphs are more than a few sentences long, which makes the article much easier to read.
- Wherever possible, mention interesting or noteworthy companies you have worked with to grab the readers’ attention and add credibility.
- Use everyday words; avoid being overly technical and steer clear of buzzwords.
I’ve been using LinkedIn for a little over three years, and so far received 15+ job invites, 4 consulting requests, and 2 writing projects. In fact, I wouldn’t be in my current job were it not for LinkedIn.
I get those messages because my profile is up-to-date and I’ve made sure to include the right keywords in my profile. So when recruiters search for candidates, I pop up.
The exact keywords you should use depend on what you (want to) do. If you’re a coder, for instance, you can list all your programming languages. If you’re a digital marketer, on the other hand, you could incorporate things like SEO, Google Analytics, and A/B testing.
After you add your experience, you can plug in a few key skills.
How do you determine if you should list something as a skill? Here’s a good rule of thumb: if you’re not ready to demonstrate a skill in an interview, don’t list it on your LinkedIn profile.
After all, a skill is not something you’ve read about once, or have practiced for a couple of minutes. For example, I can play a few chords on the guitar, but I wouldn’t list it as a skill.
The Accomplishments section is a catch-all for things that don’t fit in the rest of your profile. If any of them apply to you, by all means, add them. In this section you can showcase:
- Publications — If you worked on a paper that was published in an academic journal, had something published in a campus publication, or just published something online, you can list it here.
- Patents — Probably not the case for most of us, but you never know.
- Projects — Worked on a cool side project? Show it off here. You can even include a URL (in case it’s a video project, for example).
- Honors & Awards — Add any awards you have received for academic, work-related, or extracurricular achievements.
- Languages — If you speak a language well enough to have at least a basic conversation, then include it here.
The proverbial icing on the cake for your LinkedIn profile. Of course, a good headshot is important, but don’t forget you can adjust your background as well.
Some ideas as inspiration:
- picture of your alma mater
- an iconic landmark of the city you’d like to work in (i.e. a finance student may use the NY skyline)
- an image of you giving a presentation
- stock photo referencing a hobby or side passion of yours
- create your own custom image on canva.com
- a company image (example: Jeff Weiner)
So you now know how important LinkedIn can be for you and your career. You’ve built a great profile with relevant experience, skills, and accomplishments. Done, right?
Not so fast.
Like most things in life, you get out of LinkedIn what you put into it.
At a networking event or party, do you just stand in a corner by yourself, observing all the others from afar? Didn’t think so. So why would you be doing that on LinkedIn? Observing, but not contributing?
Too many of us view LinkedIn as an online version of our CV. Yet, LinkedIn is so much more. It’s essentially a “virtual” networking event with the smartest people, recruiters, and peers in one room.
LinkedIn is your cover letter, CV, and (first) interview, all-in-one.
The more active you are on LinkedIn, the more you’ll stand out to new opportunities. Who knows, maybe someone who engaged with your recent article on creative writing tips is hiring for a copywriting role.
The good news is that you don’t have to go out of your way to engage. You can start slow by being reactive instead of proactive. Here’s how:
- Scan your feed for the juiciest, most interesting article you can find. You’re looking for something that’s related to your area of interest and the kind of thing your connections will love.
- Share the article with a quick comment on why you think it’s useful or interesting and voilà, you’ve jump-started your LinkedIn presence with some activity.
A little nuanced interaction goes a long way in not only reminding others that you exist, but also that you’re interested in them and what they’re doing. So share and comment on their posts. Help them find new opportunities. Celebrate their successes.
And when it comes to actually posting things: Don’t overthink it. Stop pontificating “what your personal brand stands for.” Just ask yourself: what are you knowledgeable about? What do you care about? Post about that.
To help you start off on the right foot, here are 7 quick pointers for writing on the internet, applied to LinkedIn posts:
LinkedIn writing 101
- Shrink your opening sentence: “This is a post that’s going to help you become a better writer.” becomes “I can help you.”
- Change it up: emojis as bullet points can work a treat.
- Read aloud what you write.
- Write like you’re having a conversation with one person.
- Write for skimming, not deep reading.
- Bold the main take-aways.
And last but not least…
- Pull the trigger. Once it’s all done — get it out there. The most important thing is not to wait. Sitting on content makes it go stale. The longer you wait, the less relevant it becomes (and, if you’re anything like me, the more likely you are to hate it).
Bonus Tips and Tricks
- Claim your unique URL. By default, the URL of your LinkedIn profile is a big mess with parts of your name mixed in. This can make it harder for search engines like Google to find you.
- Stop scrolling. Remember: Media is meant to be a snack, not an entire diet. With the average person spending > 4 hours a day on their smartphone and another > 4 watching TV shows, distraction is quite literally a full-time job.
- Connect. Connections are the gas in the tank on LinkedIn. After all, you want people to find and connect with you. Reach out to ex-colleagues, former classmates, and anyone else you’d like to have in your network.
- Look for internships/jobs using the “Jobs”-tab and set up auto-reminders in case interesting new roles open up. You’ll be the first to know!
- Follow your favorite organizations and learn about their updates first-hand. You can find the 10 most popular companies here.
- Take a skills assessment. LinkedIn data shows that candidates with verified skills are ±30% more likely to be hired for the roles they apply for. Displaying the results of your assessments is entirely voluntary, and you can retake tests as often as you like before showing that you’ve passed.
The world is a crazy place. Unemployment has gone through the roof. People feel uncertain about their careers. Unlocking your potential using LinkedIn can help you make sense of what has happened and find opportunities for yourself, and hopefully, for others.
Master LinkedIn to future-proof your career and create new opportunities for yourself and those around you. You won't regret it.
PS: If you are active on LinkedIn, feel free to say hi here.