Job Seekers: What Is Your LinkedIn Profile Saying About You?
In the traditional sense, a resume, cover letter and references are the primary ways potential employers consider job candidates.
In this current digital age, however, social media profiles should be added to the list.
According to a 2012 report from CareerBuilder, nearly two in five organizations use social networking sites to research job candidates. Just so we're on the same page, this report analyzed the research phase of the hiring process - before the first interview even takes place.
It's still important for job seekers to pay close attention to traditional application documents (resume tips here; cover letter tips here). Just don't forget to pay particular attention to what your social media profiles (namely LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+) look like and say.
When it comes to social screening, LinkedIn is one of the first places potential employers will research you, because of the emphasis the social channel puts on professional networking. Here's a snapshot of Grantham University's LinkedIn company profile (LinkedIn has recently updated its design and layout):
How will potential employers perceive your LinkedIn profile?
Let's start with your profile picture, which will often be the first impression a potential employer has of you. Here are some tips for selecting a good profile photo:
- Of course, make sure your photo is appropriate. Use your best judgment. If you have to think about whether your profile picture is appropriate, you already have your answer - choose another one.
- Make sure your photo is current. It would be a shame to get called in for an interview and the employer doesn't recognize you because of an outdated photo.
- The more professional the photo on LinkedIn, the better. Think business casual. Additionally, remember to smile. You want to show the potential employer you look the part and are enthusiastic.
- Avoid selecting a photo that is oddly cropped or has a distracting background.
Just as your photo can convey a message, so can the word choice in the 'summary' section of your profile. If your summary seems vague or generic, the potential employer is more likely to skim over your profile. To differentiate yourself through the summary, here are some pointers:
- The summary is like an introduction. If a potential employer is first meeting you, what do you want this person to know?
- Clearly explain your career path without “fluffing” it up. You don't want to mislead or misrepresent yourself, especially if you have connections on LinkedIn who are previous or current employers.
- This is not the place to list your entire work history. That comes later in the 'experience' section. Remember to be concise. Explain what you do and why you excel at it.
The rest of your profile includes your experience and education. In the experience section, you could elaborate on previous work experience. Be comprehensive and do not leave gaps in employment, as this raises red flags to potential employers.
The way you interact on LinkedIn could also make an impact on your job prospects. Here are some tips on customizing your communication:
- When you request to connect with someone on LinkedIn, a default message that reads “I’d like to connect with you!” appears on the request. Change it up and include a personal and professional message. Potential employers and professional connections will appreciate the subtle touch of a custom message.
- After you invite people to connect, follow up with them, if necessary. Would they be interested in scheduling a phone call or grabbing lunch?
- Personalization in follow-up messages helps. Include a line about how you met or how you were introduced. For example: “We met at a networking event last week,” or “John Doe is a mutual friend and suggested I get in touch with you regarding the software developer position at your organization."
Setting yourself apart and keeping up to date will benefit you greatly as you network and look for a job. Stay tuned to the Grantham University blog for future posts on what your Facebook, Twitter and Google+ profiles are saying about you.
If you have any questions about your LinkedIn profile we didn't cover in this blog post, please ask them in the comments section below.
Are you looking for more tips about creating your own brand and catching the eye of potential employers? Click on the image below and check out our BRAND NEW eBook, "Professional Branding That Gets You Noticed."