As an executive coach and career strategist, I strongly recommend that professionals experiment with the formats that are unique to LinkedIn’s platform.
By Jennifer Lewi
Any successful career strategy involves taking intentional steps now to create a more meaningful future. As an executive coach and career strategist, I encourage my clients to embrace LinkedIn when looking to change jobs, build thought leadership, and grow their personal brands. With more than 900 million members worldwide, LinkedIn is perhaps the most powerful professional networking and recruiting platform available to job seekers.
The primary way to stand out on LinkedIn is not to try to game the algorithm, because it changes. In fact, LinkedIn recently changed its algorithm to focus on knowledge sharing. Instead, use LinkedIn to support your career goals and strategy. Ask yourself what you want to accomplish professionally: Switch to a new job? Stand out to recruiters? Attract more clients? Establish thought leadership?
No matter your goal, you can use these five proven techniques to build a career strategy on LinkedIn.
1. Establish a strong profile
To build your career strategy on LinkedIn, you should start by Googling yourself. Most people’s LinkedIn profile first comes up in a Google search.
Consequently, someone looking to learn more about, or hire, you will likely start on LinkedIn. Your profile should tell your professional story and weave together your experiences and skills to set you up for what you want to do next professionally.
Be selective about what to showcase. LinkedIn is not your résumé or a laundry list of all your professional experiences. “Think of your profile as your professional portfolio that reflects your unique accomplishments and career goals to potential employers,” recommends Rohan Rajiv, director of product management at LinkedIn.
Ensure your headline is compelling, concise, and highlights your unique skills and expertise. Optimize your profile to align with the desired job or area of expertise for which you seek to be recognized. For instance, if you are a marketer interested in transitioning to human resource management, find a way to showcase expertise in both areas. Don’t limit your headline to your current title (like vice president of marketing) unless it accurately represents what you want to do next.
Include a good headshot. Members’ profile pictures “get 9 times more connection requests, 21 times more profile views, and 36 times more messages than LinkedIn members without profile pictures,” says Lydia Abbot, senior content marketing manager at LinkedIn. Your headshot should be well-lit and professional, and it’s best to avoid personal elements like kids or pets.
2. Boost your discoverability
Highlight your relevant skills to maximize your profile’s visibility and attract recruiters and other professionals seeking those specific skills. Rajiv recommends emphasizing your skills because recruiters and hiring managers often use the LinkedIn Recruiter tool, which leverages advanced search filters to discover candidates based on the skills listed in their profiles. It’s worth noting that over 45% of hiring managers rely on skills when searching for candidates using LinkedIn’s skills menu.
Incorporate relevant keywords from job descriptions that align with your skills. “Look at job descriptions for roles you’re interested in and include any skill, education, or experience requirements you have, along with a summary of your career goals in the About section of your profile,” recommends Rajiv. “This will help ensure you’re using the same keywords recruiters would search for, increasing your chances of being contacted.”
By using keywords that support your expertise and professional brand, you effectively associate yourself with the topics you wish to be recognized for. Apply this strategy to stand out in your area of expertise. Taking cues from search engine optimization (SEO) commonly applied to websites and articles, Melanie Borden, Managing Member of The Borden Group, a social media consulting agency, advises that applicants “make sure your profile is optimized for SEO for maximum visibility for the LinkedIn search engine.”
You increase your discoverability by strategically integrating the keywords that meet your professional objectives throughout your profile, including in your headline and within your “about” section.