Article by Sarah Woodhouse, director, AMBITIOUS PR
Company stakeholders use it as a platform to network within the industry and build their personal brand. As a candidate, if you have a LinkedIn profile, much of the preliminary background-based interview questions can be answered before you even meet the company.
We’re living in an age where our digital lives run in tandem with our real lives. So, maintaining a digital profile where you can easily network with other professionals and businesses is part and parcel of this. The chances are your next company will want you to become its brand advocate on LinkedIn so demonstrating that you’re accustomed to networking via LinkedIn it is sure to stand you in good stead. To put it another way; the risk is that if you don’t have a presence on LinkedIn, the next candidate probably will.
First and foremost a professional profile picture; that will set the right tone and create the right impression. The right balance to strike is to appear natural with a neutral background so that it doesn’t distract the eye. Prospective businesses and recruiters will see this before they read anything about you, so it’s important to stand out in the right way. Your headline is the next thing that somebody will see; and with a 50-word limit – you’ll need to use your best wordsmith talents to make it punchy.
An area that many people struggle with is knowing how much detail to include in the summary section. Here, you want to convey your skill set but it’s best to keep this short and concise.
When it comes to effectively highlighting your skills and experience, you should apply the same marketing and branding principles that businesses use to your personal LinkedIn profile. Third party endorsement is more powerful than anything you can write yourself in the summary section. It’s the same if you were looking at anyone else’s profile; third party endorsements from previous colleagues, companies or university lecturers appear much more authentic as they come from a place of genuine interest.
Make sure they are up to date by requesting endorsements and recommendations once you’ve completed a project or piece of work that went particularly well. It’s a good habit to get into. You can always offer to write one in return.
Sharing relevant external articles from news or websites is a good way of showing that you’re abreast of what’s going on in the industry that you work in (or want to work in) but liking and commenting on other people’s posts is also a great way to show that you have your finger on the pulse and are engaging in your community. LinkedIn is social media after all, the end result is that those people are likely to comment back, boosting your profile. It’s something that can be built over time but the general recommendation is posting at least 1-3 times per week and liking and commenting more regularly to make your profile stand out. Avoid simply sharing other users posts though as this can actually work against you in the engagement stakes.
If you are going to invest your time in any one social platform for work then LinkedIn would be the one. The functionality of the platform makes it easy to use, it’s a great way to make valuable new connections, businesses view it as a valuable tool for both attracting the right talent and generating business from it (lots of our clients would vouch for this too!)
Sarah Woodhouse – a seasoned public relations and communications professional with over 20 years’ experience working in the UK and Asia. Agency-side, she has worked for Edelman, McCann Erickson and previously co-owned impactasia in China that was sold to Cohn & Wolfe (WPP) in 2011.