Updated: Jun 13
LinkedIn is the biggest professional networking platform globally and one of the biggest recruitment platforms globally.
So if you’re looking for a new job and you’re not using it as part of your strategy, you’re missing out on opportunities.
Of the 33 million LinkedIn accounts in the UK, very few are ‘active’. Most people I work with set up their profile years ago and then haven’t used it because they haven’t needed or wanted to find a new job. Or they do use it but only passively – they’ll browse content but never engage or create their own posts so no one knows they’re there, or knows anything about them.
So far, no problem.
But then you do want or need to find a new job, and you’ve heard that LinkedIn is really helpful for this but you have no idea where to start.
And just about the worst thing you can do is to apply for jobs via LinkedIn (and there are a lot of jobs advertised on there) without making sure your profile tells the recruiter what value you’ll bring to the role.
So what can you do, today, to improve your profile to help you find your next career move?
The first thing to think about is what do you want to be found for?
LinkedIn is a search engine and Recruiters, Hiring managers, Talent teams etc will search for people who match their needs. They'll be searching for the role title of their vacancy and related terms, possibly even the skills and experiences they want.
So think about:
When a recruiter or employer is searching for someone for your ideal role, what search words will they likely use?
How can you best describe yourself in your Headline using these words?
Linkedin is be a powerful marketing tool, and you need to market yourself so you can be found for the roles you want to be found for.
How your LinkedIn HEADLINE can help your job search.
Your Headline sits underneath your photo* and is visible to people when you come up in a search, and when you engage with content. So it's essential that it's telling people what you want them to know about you.
Describe yourself for the role you want. (Your Headline defaults to your current job title so change it.)
You have up to 220 characters available. Think about those keywords and how you can use them in your Headline to make maximum use of this field.
If you need inspiration to think of the keywords that will be used in a search, simply search in Jobs for your ideal role and see what words are commonly used in the job descriptions.
The same type of role may be called slightly different things by different organisations. Which are the most common terms? Use them in your Headline.
By making this simple change, my clients start to see a difference in the roles they're contacted about.
*If you don't have a photo, add one today! And check your Privacy settings to ensure it's visible to everyone, not just your connections.
How your LinkedIn ABOUT section can help your job search
This section gives you 2600 characters to let recruiters and employers know more about you.
Here's your opportunity to tell them:
What you're looking for.
The skills you'll bring to the role.
The value and contribution you'll bring to their organisation.
Why you're passionate about this work / subject.
Some of your biggest achievements.
Your most relevant experience/ qualifications.
Your strengths, values and what matters to you.
The first 3 lines are visible before someone has to click See more... so get your most impactful statement there.
Think about those key words you identified while updating your Headline and get them into your About section, too.
How your LinkedIn EXPERIENCE section can help your job search.
Your Experience section is also a great place to get your key words in.
Many people simply have their job title in this section, maybe a really brief description. You can make this section work for you!
You have 100 characters in the Title field and 2000 characters in the Description field.
Include your key words in both and showcase your strengths, skills and achievements alongside your experience and expertise.
If you're looking to change your career, focus on the transferable skills that will be important in your ideal role.
And when talking about your achievements focus on the things you really want to do in your next role.
Here's an example of how I use the Title field to include key words alongside my role title. (Go to my Profile and click See more... on each role for how I've used key words in the Description field for each role.)
How your LinkedIn SKILLS section can help your job search
Your Skills section is a brilliant, and easy, place to get your key words in!
You can add 50 skills and the great thing is, they're free format (you're not restricted to a LinkedIn list, although it does make suggestions for you).
Focus on your skills and strengths that are relevant to the career you want. Include behaviour-based skills (eg, collaboration, relationship-building, leadership) as well as your technical skills.
Remove any that are no longer relevant.
Identify the top 3 for your ideal role and pin them to the top.
There's a brand new feature rolling out - I don't have it yet so can't include a screenshot, but have seen it when working with a client:
When you add a Skill you add which roles you used it in.
When you update your Experience you can add the top skills you used.
So you're creating a clear picture of where / when you put those skills into action
How NETWORKING on LinkedIn can help your job search.
Now you've updated your profile to reflect what you want to be found for it's time to strategically grow your professional network.
If you're like most of my clients, your Connections on here are people you've worked with and met in person.
And the idea of connecting with strangers feels weird!
LinkedIn is a professional networking site, all about careers, jobs, learning and connecting. So most people who are active on here are happy to connect with others - even when they don't know them.
With your new career and ideal role in mind, identify:
Who can you learn from?
Which organisations would you love to work for?
Who works in those organisations?
Who does your ideal role?
Who's likely to be a hiring manager for your ideal role?
Which recruiters specialise in the area you want to move in to?
✅ Follow these organisations.
✅ Connect with these people.
✅ Then engage with their content (like, comment, share) and build relationships.
How POSTING on LinkedIn can help your job search
This is generally the part that makes people really nervous! The thought of posting is often quite terrifying. What if I say something stupid? What if no-one likes it?
Harness your courage and think about: What do you want to be known for? How can you share insight and your experience? How can you show potential employers what you know and how you can add value to their organisation?
This way you have focus and clarity to guide you, and it can feel less personal and therefore less scary.
Try these things and see how it feels:
💡Comment on posts from your new connections, adding value and insight.
💡Share articles / news items related to your ideal role and add some of your own thoughts. (If this feels really scary, start by asking a question instead.)
💡Share content from the pages of organisations you'd like to work for, and add your thoughts.
💡Create your own posts about relevant topics. Ask questions, share ideas.
💡Share some personal stories. Why are you making a change your career? What's brought you to this point? What are you looking for? What does your ideal role / employer look like?
When a potential employer, or a recruiter, views your profile they'll be able to learn about you in more depth and see that you're a credible candidate for the role.
Linkedin is your free marketing tool - make it work for you!
Making these simple changes will definitely make a difference for the success of your job search. Things my clients have experienced after working with me on their LinkedIn profile include:
Connection invites from people in organisations they want to work for.
Conversations with people in organisations they want to work for, or in roles they want to move into, to help them understand how they got their role.
Invitations to apply for relevant roles.
Advance notice about roles becoming available.
Jobs being shared with them they otherwise wouldn't have known about.
Being connected with hiring managers.
So don't delay - if you want a new job and your LinkedIn profile is not in the best shape, do these things today and see the difference it makes for you!
If you want some more help with your LinkedIn profile, my LinkedIn Confidence (How to use LinkedIn to find your ideal job) e-workbook is available to buy here.
Or book coaching support where I'll help you with ideas and courage for posting. You can choose from my LinkedIn Confidence programme or a Focus session.
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About Karen Felton
Karen is a Leadership Career mentor and coach, enabling leaders to thrive in their career through understanding their strengths.
She has over 25 years’ experience in HR and Financial Services, leading teams, coaching and mentoring people, developing leaders and enabling people to achieve their career goals. She is passionate about enabling people to be their best selves so they can perform at their best in work and in life.