In a job market saturated with candidates, a strong LinkedIn profile may just be your saving grace...getty
The new year has arrived, and for the career-oriented go-getters, so has another list of professional goals to tackle. Double the size of your professional network, promote your organization externally, find a new job after getting laid off, increase your annual salary, get a mentor…
Would you believe me if I said you could check any of these items off your to-do list just by giving your LinkedIn page a facelift? It sounds shallow, but it’s true: the likelihood you’ll receive a job interview or have a career-changing conversation within the next year rely heavily on the caliber of your LinkedIn profile.
You may as well shove those high heels back in the closet and forget about ironing that shirt because you can propel your career forward just by laying down on your couch with a laptop while wearing yesterday’s sweats. It may not be a professional nor ergonomic look, but in today’s age, it works. The phrase “getting your foot in the door” has never stood further away from its literal meaning.
Shiny LinkedIn profiles will dominate the 2023 job market
If the thought of rewriting your LinkedIn bio or brainstorming a catchy headline makes you want to run in the opposite direction, trust me when I say you should think again. With more than 875 million users worldwide, LinkedIn’s role in the hiring process is nothing short of massive.
Jobvite’s 2020 Recruiter Nation Survey reported that 72% of recruiters use LinkedIn to hire new candidates. Every second, 101 job applications are submitted through the platform. Eight people get hired every minute.
But don’t be deceived – the prevalence of job listings does not equate to a surplus of work. According to LinkedIn’s December 2022 Workforce Report, hiring across all industries fell 4.9% from October to November and is 20.5% lower than it was during November of last year. Even more concerning, current hiring has fallen 11.9% below pre-pandemic levels – a clear indicator that the job market is entering a shift we haven’t experienced in years.
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Job hunters looking to work from home face an especially competitive battle. Remote work makes up only fifteen percent of the jobs listed on LinkedIn, but receives 50% of the platform’s applications. The Washington Post dubs the growing clash between employees’ interest in remote work and the employers who are willing to allow it “the great mismatch.”
In a job market saturated with candidates, those with sleek shiny LinkedIn profiles rise to the top.
5 steps to glam-up your LinkedIn profile
1. Structure your profile around your career goals
Whether you partake in New Year’s resolutions or not, the beginning of a new year comes with the inevitable urge to imagine the future that lies ahead. Use this time to think about the career goals you have for the upcoming year. Doing this before you dive into a full-on LinkedIn makeover will help you structure the changes you do make around a specific purpose. A cohesive profile gives recruiters a clear message about who you are and what you have to offer.
Here are a few questions you can help you define the career goals you have for the new year:
- Where would you like to see yourself by the end of the year?
- What skill set are you primarily using in your career this year– and what key words reflect those skills when used on your profile (remember! Recruiters search by key words)?
- How would you like your brand to change over the next year?
- Think of a dream company you’d love to work for. What impression would you want to give in a conversation with a recruiter?
- What topics and skills would be beneficial for you to learn and develop?
2. Revamp the details
A sparse or crusty LinkedIn profile gives recruiters little faith someone will perform at a high standard in the workplace. It’s just a fact of life: aesthetics matter, and this is especially true in the job market. Take the time to make sure the details of your LinkedIn profile are all straightened out. Photo lighting, punctuation, job descriptions – these may seem like small things, but recruiters notice when they’re done sloppily.
Look at the content you already have on your page and see how it can be improved or updated:
- Profile Picture
- Use a photo that closely resembles your current appearance
- Avoid using photos with poor lighting or additional people you need to cut out
- Wear business-casual attire, take the photo from the chest up in front of a plain background
- Avoid the default headline that shows your job title under your name
- Instead, give a wide scope of who you are by including skills, certifications, future goals, and your own interpretation of what it means to do the work you do
- Use your headline to explain where you want to go. If you’re in tech, transitioning into communications, lead with what you want to go into.
- About info
- Make sure your bio is written in the first person (use the words “I” and “my”)
- Double check for grammatical mistakes and punctuation errors
- Avoid casual language, fragmented sentences, and an excessive use of emojis
- Background photo
- Make your profile pop by adding a background photo in the space above your profile picture
- Avoid personal photos and group photos
- Consider using a subtle image related to your career
- New accomplishments
- Add the jobs, awards, or major achievements you’ve had since last updating your profile
- Previous work experience
- Treat this section of your LinkedIn Page like your resume by describing the work you did with a few bullets led by strong action verbs
- Format text consistently across all job entries
3. Reassess your keywords
This is the part where strategy comes into play. You can create the most aesthetically pleasing profile LinkedIn has ever seen, but it won’t be seen by recruiters if you don’t leverage keywords correctly. Keywords are terminology commonly used in a specific industry.
Recruiters hiring for job candidates through LinkedIn will often filter results by entering keywords that relate to the position or industry into the platform’s search feature. The more keywords you include in your profile, the better chance you have at being approached by a recruiter looking to hire someone in that related field.
Think about some keywords that relate to the goals you brainstormed in step 1. If you’re looking to change jobs, you can probably benefit by rewording your profile’s “about” section and previous job descriptions to better reflect the skills sought after in your preferred job or industry. But make sure you avoid using keywords that stretch the truth – you may think this gives you an edge over candidates, but it will only be a detriment to your credibility later on.
4. Expand your network with LinkedIn groups
Scrolling through a seemingly infinite reel of LinkedIn posts makes it easy to forget that the platform, at its core, is a network of professionals. Passively consuming posts from college peers will rarely be enough to propel your career forward. Instead, you need to use LinkedIn to actively seek out professionals with valuable connections and opportunities in your field of work, and the finding right LinkedIn group is a total gem.
The easiest way to do this? Join more LinkedIn groups and take note of which one has like minded professionals and positive engagement. There’s a LinkedIn group related to just about every occupational field and professional development topic out there, including several for job seekers. You can read more about which ones I recommend here.
5. Become more active and explore creator mode
Your posts, comments, likes, and shares all play a role in shaping a hiring manager’s impression of you. In essence, they’re part of your personal brand. While some people may think it’s safer to avoid leaving a trail of activity, this path can be even more detrimental.
A lack of engagement on LinkedIn reads as a lack of interest in professional development and few, if any, achievements in the workplace. Of course, this may very well also not be the case, but it doesn’t change the fact that a recruiter has no reasons to believe otherwise.
If you’re anxious about engaging with other professionals on LinkedIn, dip your toe into the water by liking and commenting on posts that come up in your feed. Keep in mind that comments that prompt a follow-up answer will spur more engagement than comments that just affirm the post.
You don’t need to make your own LinkedIn posts overly complicated. A quick update on a team project or a post highlighting your company’s community involvement is a short but positive contribution to people’s timelines. Do your best to remain active and consistent on the platform. Consider giving yourself a certain number of posts to aim every week or month.
Above all else, make sure the content you do contribute to LinkedIn stays classy and avoids conflict. There are better places you can go if you’re looking for tension, namely Facebook and Twitter.