LinkedIn has been used by professionals and job seekers since its inception in 2003. According to one statistic from DMR (Digital Marketing Ramblings), the number of active LinkedIn users worldwide in 2013 reached 259 million. Therefore it is right to say that many candidates will use social media to help them in finding their dream job, and the popularity of LinkedIn is no exception. Many recruiters will actively post jobs and headhunt candidates based on their online profiles, therefore knowing how to market yourself is vital.

We have put together this guide to help you to ensure that you are using your LinkedIn account to its full potential. From creating your profile, to building up your list of network connections, all of which is important in building up a viable reputation and meaningful recommendations that will help you to find a new job or to be found by a head-hunter.

1) Make sure your profile is complete and up to date

First impressions count a lot, we would say that having a complete profile with all of the information filled out correctly and accurately is a must. Approaching the key details such as your experience and skills should be viewed as if it were your CV. Many, if not all recruiters will judge the quality of the information provided as a means to initiate further contact. Equally other people within your industry will look to your profile to see whether they wish to connect with you.

Your LinkedIn profile will also act to build up your online presence, so if somebody puts your name into a Google search your LinkedIn profile will highlight everything that person needs to know about you, including your employment history, skills, recommendations and contact details, this is an effective way for people to view all of your details quickly. Again your LinkedIn profile will act as your online CV, having all of the same details including your experience and qualifications that make you a suitable candidate if you are in the market for a job, so that prospective employers to find you and access if you are a match.

2) Add a photo

Be sure to add a decent head shot of yourself with a background free of ‘clutter’. We would recommend that you look professional and dress appropriately, and not a picture of you on holiday, sunbathing or riding a camel. Remember that LinkedIn is a professional networking site so your approach to how you portray yourself should be the same.  Your profile picture should only ever include you in it, avoid being featured with pets, children or holding objects. Aim for your profile picture to be no larger than 80 x 80 pixels.  For added professionalism try having your picture taken by a professional at a studio. Whatever you do, do not leave your profile picture blank as it implies disconnect, for recruiters this is a particular hate and they will be unlikely to view your profile.

3) Write a professional summary

As this your opening paragraph, use it to highlight your experience in a relevant and captivating way. Again throughout your summary remember to include all of the relevant industry key words that will help your profile to be found in search results. Always be subtle in the way that you use key terms as it will be obvious by those who read your profile that you are seeking SEO exposure, through repeated use of certain words. An example of best practice would be if you are an IT Project Manager to use key words that are attractive to recruiters like, project management, system development, database modelling and technical support.

4) Adjust your contact settings

This is a perfect indicator to tell people that you are actively looking for work and you are flexible in your requirements. Be sure to add an email or contact number so that recruiters can easily get hold of you. 

5) Connect with similar people

One of the main benefits of LinkedIn is the ability for people to connect with other professionals in similar fields. You can ask previous and current work colleagues, friends and business contacts to connect with you immediately. By seeking to connect with others you will be exposed to their network of connections, all of which will benefit you in some way, either through putting you in touch with others that can help you to expand your job opportunities or to ask for recommendations, something which employers value and will add substantial weight when it comes to be considered for a job. As the number of your contacts grow and are visible on your public profile the more attractive you will appear to recruiters, as they use this number to see just how active you are with LinkedIn.

6) Look to join groups

By joining groups that are of interest to you, you can actively partake in discussions on subjects which you can demonstrate your knowledge and experience in, you will gain a healthy respect amongst your peers if you do this. This is one of the best ways to not only build your network of connections but also to share content, provide feedback, and more importantly to find work.  You can find all of the groups on LinkedIn by the search function, as you start to type the relevant groups will be displayed in the drop down bar.  When you join a group you can opt for the logo to be displayed on your profile page. We recommend that you mark all of the logo settings as visible when you are accepted into a group, as this will increase the likelihood of you meeting other professionals.

7) Actively use the job search function to look for work

Like finding a group you can also use the search function to find positions. Click on the drop down menu to the left of the search bar, select jobs and then type your preferred role into the search bar. You can even conduct an advanced search to tailor the results by company, location, job function, industry and experience level.

The popularity of LinkedIn amongst professional job seekers means that those looking for a job, need to be aware of how their online presence and profile can have a direct impact on how they are perceived by recruiters and their peers. Therefore having a profile which is complete and up to date, and knowing how to use LinkedIn properly is important not only to find a job but also to be headhunted.


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