If you haven’t been living under a rock for the last couple years, you know by now that Linkedin is recommended as a critical piece of job search and career management strategy. BTW If you’re on Linkedin but not sure why or how it’s beneficial, you might want to check out my blog post Why Linkedin is More Important Than Your Resume . If you have a Linkedin profile you know how easy it is to set up an account and be present but do you ever wonder if merely having a profile is enough?
Linkedin’s Potential for Your Career Goals
In working with hundreds of Linkedin users, at all career levels, through my career coaching programs, this is the one question that comes up the most: Is it enough to simply have a profile or is there something more I can be doing to make Linkedin work for me? Linkedin offers tons of features and extra profile parts (not to mention endless stats, suggestions and prompts that make their way to your inbox). All of this can tend to make you feel like perhaps you’re not doing enough or worse yet, suck you in for hours of aimless Linkedin surfing.
I’ve been a student of Linkedin for years, witnessed the success stories and time-wasters and I can tell you that Linkedin requires a very specific strategy. When used right, it produces the right contacts, best opportunities and effortless ongoing career management. If you’re hoping to make Linkedin work for you and produce some of these results, then just being on Linkedin is not enough. You must be optimized on Linkedin.
Being Optimized on Linkedin
Linkedin is a tool that exists for 2 purposes: to find and to be found. For the purposes of profile optimization, I am going to focus on Linkedin as a tool for being found. Having a Linkedin profile that is consistently showing up in the right search results, is so important because Linkedin is home to more than 330 million professionals. Talk about finding a needle in a haystack! Being optimized on Linkedin means having the right keywords and profile parts as well as applying key features to ensure that you are not only appearing in the right searches, but also making a stellar first impression.
Being Optimized: Linkedin vs Hiring Managers
Without going into the complexities of internet search (SEO and the technology behind how Linkedin ranks you in search results) it’s important that you understand the difference between what Linkedin considers important and what hiring managers/recruiters consider important when it comes to your profile. Linkedin is a social platform and their objective, is to continually engage you so you will come back and visit the site and participate (click buttons, contribute, etc). Therefore some of the profile parts or features are going to be important in ensuring you are playing by Linkedin’s rules. When you play by Linkedin’s rules, Linkedin rewards you with better search ranking.
However, you should know that not all features/profile parts are going to be important for hiring managers/recruiters since their end goal is to find the right person for the job. Hiring managers aren’t necessarily going to be looking at the number of connections or recommendations you boast. (Speaking from the perspective of a former recruiter I can tell you recommendations hold little importance).
Getting Started With Profile Optimization
Considering all of this, there are a few simple strategies you want to apply to make sure you have set the right foundation for an optimized profile that will start to work for you when being searched. First, you want to have a complete profile. Profile completeness is one area in which Linkedin will reward you in the search results game. This means you have to reach Linkedin All-Star status (here’s how).
Second, you want to start connecting with as many people as possible (including people you don’t know) because the way you appear in search results is largely based on your number of 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree connections. Therefore, the bigger the network, the more degrees of connectivity and the more relevant you will be to more people. If you aren’t connected by a 1st, 2nd or 3rd degree connection, you will end up in no-man’s land (and let’s be honest, no one takes the time to dig through pages of search results).
Finally, you want to populate your profile with the keywords. Keywords will help boost your profile amongst the right crowd and should be carefully selected and incorporated into every profile part. Linkedin All-Star status doesn’t require you to use every profile part available, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t add some extras. Adding extra profile parts can play a big part in allowing for more keyword real estate and appearing in more searches.
Take time to become optimized on Linkedin and maintain your optimized profile as you progress in your career.