Along with being an essential tool for executive job search, LinkedIn plays an important role in overall career management.
I’ve found that many executives have a “build it and forget it” mindset with LinkedIn. They put up a minimal profile, and never revisit it, and never take advantage of all the things LinkedIn has to offer.
They don’t seem to realize that LinkedIn is a primary destination for people who are sourcing and assessing good-fit job candidates and people to do business with.
If your profile is less than stellar and doesn’t contain the most-searched relevant keywords and phrases for your particular circumstances, you may be overlooked for great new career and business opportunities.
Whether or not you’re looking for a new job, are you doing all these things?
Build Your LinkedIn Profile
- Create a keyword-rich Professional Headline, instead of leaving LinkedIn’s default, your most current job title.
- Customize your LinkedIn URL to include your name and a relevant keyword or certification acronym.
- Upload a professional photo to your profile. Profiles with photos get more views.
- Know who you’re targeting and build keyword-rich content designed to resonate with them.
- Fully populate every applicable profile section with content that supports your personal brand, generates chemistry and positions you as a good-fit for your target employers.
- Tell your personal brand story in the Summary section.
- Include plenty of white space throughout your profile, so it’s easier for people to read, and encourages them to read down the web page.
- Use bullet points to highlight relevant achievements and contributions.
- Add other special characters to distinguish standout content.
- Be ever-mindful of Personal SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and keyword density in your profile content.
- Build content to populate these little-used profile sections, if they apply to you – Languages, Volunteering Experience, Organizations, Honors & Awards, Courses, Patents, Causes you care about, Projects, Personal Details.
- Check Privacy and Settings to be sure your profile is set to allow anyone to see your public profile.
- Every time you make changes to your profile, save a copy as a Word or PDF document. Profiles have been known to disappear suddenly.
Build and Engage Your LinkedIn Network
- Build your connections to at least 500, to boost your LinkedIn search ranking.
- Develop a strategy and scripts to connect with people you don’t know, who will be important to network with.
- Search for LinkedIn Company profiles of your target employers and follow them.
- Connect with employees at past and current employers.
- Connect with executive recruiters and hiring decision makers at your target companies.
- Use LinkedIn’s “Find Alumni” feature (located on the main menu bar under “Connections”) to find and connect with alumni.
- Include a link to your LinkedIn profile on your resume and in your email signature and website (if you have one). Or you can grab a LinkedIn button, if you go to Privacy and Settings.
Research and Market Intelligence
- Study the details on LinkedIn Company profiles of your target employers. Use them to assess the company and to identify employees.
- Look at the profiles of employees of your target employers. Connect with them and scan their profiles for market intelligence and relevant keywords to boost your personal SEO.
- Search job listings for your target employers on LinkedIn “Jobs” (on the main menu bar). A wealth of information about the company is provided in these descriptions.
Keep Your Personal Brand Top-of-Mind
- Add the maximum 50 skills in the Skills section.
- Prioritize Skills and Endorsements regularly, as people give endorsements and your list shifts.
- Post updates regularly, say, once a week or so.
- Refresh the content in your profile regularly to align with your current job search/career focus, and to upgrade with current relevant keywords.
- Join and participate regularly in LinkedIn Groups to demonstrate your thought leadership and subject matter expertise.
- Write articles for LinkedIn’s long-form publishing platform Pulse.
- Write LinkedIn recommendations for colleagues, co-workers, team members, etc. and ask for recommendations for yourself.
- Reach out to your network regularly to see how they’re doing, offer support, and pass along something of interest to them.
- Support your network with “Likes”, comments and/or spreading the word on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google+ when they post an article on Pulse.
If You’re Job Hunting Undercover
- Strike a balance in your profile content to support your current employer, while positioning yourself as a good-fit for target employers.
- Change your profile settings before and after posting new content, so that your network won’t be alerted.
- Be ready in case people notice your new profile content and ask you about it. Formulate a brief explanation for why you’ve updated your profile content, that doesn’t “out” your job search.
More About LinkedIn and Executive Job Search
I wrote some of these posts a while ago, so you may find that LinkedIn doesn’t function in the same way, or that you don’t find things in the same places. But the posts will help you with my checklist.