Getting up to speed on LinkedIn

Ines Gonzalez, Career Coach

Q: LinkedIn – I don’t know what to make of it. I’m told that I need to be on there, and I am, but just about. I have a profile that I haven’t kept updated and I never put up a post. Now and then, I might comment on a post, but that’s the height of it. I have run my own business most of my life but that has gone under and I need to get myself into something else. Any advice on how I can use LinkedIn to help me – particularly on keywords, everyone mentions those? (DG, email).

A: What you describe is common enough for many LinkedIn users. It’s like a supplement we feel we should take, but we don’t always get around to it. However, be in no doubt: used well, LinkedIn can be a powerful tool, writes Ines Gonzalez, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers.

I will try to simplify it for you. Keywords are words other people – recruiters, for example – use when searching for a candidate. These are words related to your job or industry – if you are looking for work as a business manager, your keywords might include ‘HR’, ‘people management’, ‘strategic planning’, ‘financial management’ or ‘customer service’ – use them throughout your profile especially on your headline and job titles.

You should write individual words and phrases peculiar to the sector you’re trying to get into – not necessarily the one you’ve come from. Let’s say you want to get out of business ownership, but have an interest in sales. You could emphasise sales in your LinkedIn profile. You’re not telling a word of a lie – as a business owner you would have been involved in sales.

Recruiters will be drawn to your keywords, so make sure they a) are relevant to where you wish to go next and b) stand up to scrutiny when the recruiter studies your experience. Don’t try to sell yourself as something you are not.

Build your network

The other key value of LinkedIn lies in its ability to connect you with people – to, in effect, open doors for you. You can find people who might have work for you – or might know someone who has.

A well-written and courteous note of introduction will often get a positive response. Job searching rewards those who take little steps at a time – building a contact here and asking for a referral there.

You mentioned that you comment on posts. That’s a good idea. Be helpful to others. If you can help with a piece of information, do. Your network will recognise your generosity and openness and will be favourably disposed to you.

Don’t be the person who only shows up the day you want something.

Use the LinkedIn summary to orientate you towards the kind of role you’re seeking in the future, while also highlighting one or two key achievements from the past. Past behaviour is the best predictor of future behaviour.

Make sure your photo is professional.  Wading through endless reams of information about your career is hard work – don’t force the recruiter to do that. Get to the point quickly, select just a few tasks or achievements from each job, and trust that all of this will generate a positive overview of you – and maybe then they’ll pick up the phone and/or invite you to interview.

Ines Gonzalez is a Career Coach with Sli Nua Careers.

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