Any job seeker today knows that social networking sites like LinkedIn are invaluable resources for making important contacts. And, in addition to LinkedIn's effectiveness as a networking tool, many recruiters are now forgoing traditional methods of sourcing candidates and turning directly to this major site as their preferred method for identifying potential employees. So if you want recruiters to choose you as a candidate for their open positions, you'll need for your online profile to be as powerful as possible.
Although securing recommendations and endorsements are important, the keywords you select to include in your profile are critical. You'll want recruiters to locate you quickly and easily. Even more -- you'll want them to like what they see. Therefore think like a recruiter, highlight the skills they're looking to find, and present yourself as the attractive, winning candidate they'll want to contact.
Here are 3 key strategies to consider as you build your online profile:
Present a Unified Brand: It is essential that you make certain your LinkedIn profile is current, complete and that it substantiates how you're describing yourself on your resume and in your cover letters. Although I suggest customizing resumes to the specifics of any posted position for which you apply (with the right formatting, this can be a relatively easy process), the information should basically be the same as that on your online profile. The way you present yourself forms the foundation of your job search -- so make certain that it's strong, current to the needs of today's job market, and distinguishes you from the competition.
Become Highly Searchable: The strategic use of keywords is critical. You already know that recruiters (both independent and internal company recruiters) will turn to LinkedIn as a primary tool for sourcing candidates. The way they'll find you is by the words you've chosen to include in your profile. Your aim, therefore, is to become as highly searchable as possible. The following are three ways you can accomplish this goal.
- An easy way to determine which keywords get the largest number of hits is by using the Google Adwords Keyword Tool. This free service ranks keywords by the number of global monthly searches they elicit. A good rule of thumb is to focus mainly on skill words with numbers in the midrange. If you use too many words with high-ranking search numbers, you may get lost in the crowd; if your profile is filled with low-ranking words, your chances of being found will diminish.
- Another way to identify keywords with the potential to get you noticed by recruiters is to study the postings for your line of work. You'll want to identify and list skills that are frequently requested in the ads and load up your LinkedIn profile with these valuable industry buzzwords. It goes without saying that you'll need to actually have the skills they're requesting in the ads, but employers are telling you what they want -- so give it to them!
- A third way to make certain that you're maximizing your LinkedIn profile is to take a look at how others in your line of work are marketing themselves. Use the search feature to source people in your same occupation and check out the words they're using to highlight their skill sets. Chances are you'll find some valuable tips that will improve your own profile.
Once you've determined several keywords for your area of specialty and identified those relating to your key skills and selling points, you'll want to embed these attention-grabbing words in both the Summary and the Experience sections of your LinkedIn profile. Remember to think like a recruiter! Which skills will they be looking to find? Be generous and make certain that each of these sections is richly populated with the words, phrases, and job titles recruiters will want to see.
Your All-Important Photo: Another important feature of your LinkedIn profile is the photo you choose to provide. Dress as you would for a job interview; you'll want to display your image as a professional. You'll also want to exude your warmth and personality through your photo. A smile is generally best. Your goal is to strike a balance between professionalism and approachability. Employers are looking for skilled problem solvers but they also want to hire someone who's pleasant to be with.
As you create your profile, you'll want to factor-in each of these elements. And, as with other aspects of your job search, you'll want to consider your profile to be a work in progress. If you're not getting results, improve it. An up-to-date profile that highlights your skills and experience to best advantage is critical. Recruiters are looking to find you and are using LinkedIn and other social networking sites as both a way to source and to vet their candidates. So use this valuable platform and turn your profile into a winner!
Mary Eileen Williams is a Nationally Board Certified Career Counselor with a Master's Degree in Career Development and twenty years' experience assisting midlife jobseekers to achieve satisfying careers. Her book, Land the Job You Love: 10 Surefire Strategies for Jobseekers Over 50, is a step-by-step guide that shows you how you can turn your age into an advantage and brand yourself for success. Updated in February 2013, it's packed with even more critical information aimed at providing mature applicants with the tools they need to gain the edge over the competition and successfully navigate the modern job market. Visit her website at Feisty Side of Fifty.com and celebrate your sassy side!