LinkedIn and Social Media. Part four of Job Hunting: Our Ultimate Five-Part Guide
Written by Stefani Janson
Edited by Jermaine Doh
LinkedIn is your digital CV. It is a fantastic opportunity to showcase your accomplishments, professional experience and personal brand on a convenient platform, plus it is a great way to display your social media skills. You can also speak directly with HR personnel, recruiters and apply for jobs on the platform. However, you should proceed with caution as anything on LinkedIn, and other social media, is there for the world to see. Not sure where to start with creating your LinkedIn profile or updating your social media privacy settings? This guide will give you a leg-up on the process.
Choosing your profile picture
Between these two LinkedIn profiles of myself, one photo is more favourable than the other. Many would argue that both are appropriate LinkedIn images, however, the photo on the left is a much better snap. The photo on the left is centred, in good lighting, the work attire is highly professional and the photo has been taken on a neutral background. The image to the right, however, has filtered lighting, is less presentable (my hair is not done, I have taken it as a selfie), the background is both unorganised and distracting, and I have my head to one side. Take these tips and incorporate them into your LinkedIn headshot. Photographs in nature or against a brick or wooden wall provide a great backdrop to your headshot, but for a safe bet use a white wall as your backdrop. For your best LinkedIn photo, ensure that you’re dressed professionally and the image captures at least your face and shoulders.
Filling out your profile
Put time aside to create a strong profile as it will set the tone with people in your network. If you post regular updates on LinkedIn people will read your profile, and if it is impressive, it may lead to opportunities down the road. I regularly post on LinkedIn my involvements, which do get noticed by others in my industry. From this, I have had organisations reach out with job offers! Do not underestimate the power of LinkedIn and a powerful profile.
So, where should you start? Pull out the CV you perfected in part two of this series. Start by entering your experiences and achievements, no matter how small, and ensure you include brief descriptions. Speak another language, fundraise for an organisation or are part of a committee? Put it in your profile as extra-curricular involvements play a part in creating the picture of who you are. That being said, your LinkedIn profile MUST mirror your CV. Why? When applying for a new role, you will instantly raise suspicions of HR if there are discrepancies between your CV and LinkedIn profile. So do yourself a favour and be detailed!
The good news—LinkedIn will actually measure the “completeness” of your profile as you work and offer suggestions on how to make it stronger. Why thanks, LinkedIn! It is also a good idea to get a customised URL (eg. linkedin.com/yourname), rather than the numbers automatically assigned when you sign up. It makes it much easier for people to find you. How do you make one? On the “Edit Profile” screen, at the bottom of the gray window that shows your basic information, you’ll see a Public Profile URL. Click “Edit” next to the URL, and specify what you’d like your address to be. When you’re finished, click “Set Custom URL”. Voila, you’re done!
As for your headline and description, ditch the boring and obvious and write a kick-ass headline to welcome people to your page!
In the above photo, you can see I have taken a targeted approach to my headline and description, where I have tried to create simplicity in displaying my key involvements. My description is written in first person and I have included the things I believe will be of interest to employers or colleagues, or that will set me apart from the competition. To draft your description, think about the interests section on your CV: do you like photography, football, or do you volunteer for a charity? These are great things to include as they bring a human element to your LinkedIn profile which will capture those reading your profile.
Once you have completed drafting your profile, print it out in hard copy and proof it. This is a crucial step, because once this is complete you need to start adding your connections! It is important that your profile is polished because you now need to make 50 requests to people in your network. Anything less than 50 connections may again raise suspicions with HR, so start building your network fast! Ensure you also start getting in the habit of adding people as soon as you have met them, as (1) they will be more likely to remember you and accept and (2) you won’t forget their name!
What about LinkedIn skills, endorsements, and recommendations? Skills and endorsements are a way for your peers to endorse and verify your abilities. Start by getting into the habit of endorsing others, and once you start to give you will receive! Ensure you periodically endorse others, or even ask for a written recommendation, each month. These will gradually start to add up and give your profile some serious legitimacy.
Now your LinkedIn profile is underway, turn your attention to your social media accounts. You need to ensure you have strong privacy settings on these accounts, as HR will look for you on the internet. In the unfortunate event they find something unsavoury, your application may be rejected. The best way to see what is visible to others is by opening an “incognito” window and searching your name into Google. Through this process can you see your Facebook profile, your Instagram account, or even your Twitter feed? If so, time to get to work. Whichever accounts are accessible in the first two pages of your name search result, you must make their contents private.
Here are some great videos that will teach you how to make your social media privacy as strong as possible:
Some people use the added technique of changing their name on social media accounts during the job hunt. From Stefani Janson, I could change my name to “SJ” or “StefR” (my first name and middle initial) to make it virtually impossible for anyone in HR to find my social media accounts. Once you are done making your social media accounts watertight, give yourself a big pat on the back! This step in our job hunt guide is huge, but very worthwhile to help you stand out!