The idea of social media has pervaded the online world; a contemporary concept that is no longer new. Since the propagation of the internet into the world, orchards of social media sites have sprung up, connecting the lives of millions and flooding the networks with triviality and memes. While the point of social media is to be relaxing and informal, there exists a few Professional Social media networking platforms, an oxymoron that functions surprisingly well. These sites feature professional networking, and gaining opportunities and resources for businesses. Striding far above these platforms like a titan strolling through a pack of puppies is LinkedIn. Therefore having an effective Linkedin Profile is necessary.
Linkedin has a critical mass of more than 722 million members. And size matters in the business of social media – the more people you have using your network, the more awareness and incentive for people to use it, and the more it grows. Increasingly, recruitment and talent acquisition by companies across various sectors are being done through LinkedIn. On the side of individuals, apart from active and passive job searches, LinkedIn is also a powerful tool to gain updates on your industry, develop insights and follow thought leadership, or for Customer Relationship Management and lead generation.
As a leading executive search firm, our consultants here at Citadel Search also have seen many profiles of candidates, we would say that we have seen our fair share of lacklustre and also stellar profiles. Here are some of our advice on how to optimise your LinkedIn profile from the perspective of a recruiter.
LinkedIn Profile Optimisation Tips
Profiles and Backgrounds
Your display picture is the professional face of your profile and the first thing that people see when they do visit your page. Since LinkedIn is a business and employment-oriented social media, it is best to have a profile picture that reflects what you do professionally. As research has shown, just simply having a profile picture increases the chances your profile is viewed by 14 times.
Our advice? Ensure that your face makes up about 70% of your picture. This makes your face the centre of interest, and people who view your profile do not need to squint in order to make out what you look like. Have the picture of yourself taken in an attire that you would wear to work (or at least what you would wear to a job you want), as it reflects the level of formality that you would like to put across to potential clients or recruiters. Like any interview, shirts in solid colourswork best as stripes and patterned clothing distracts. Also, avoid using digital accessories like filters, e.g. sunglasses, emoticons, etc. This in our opinion is best used for more informal social media platforms such as Instagram, etc.
Updating your profile picture regularly is a good idea, as it will better represent how you look like in person currently. Also, be mindful of the background of your profile picture – try to have a simple background that does not take the focus away from you. Preferably, your shirt should contrast with the background colour in order to differ in quality. Avoid using digital accessories like filters,e.g. sunglasses, emoticons, etc. This in our opinion is best used for more informal social media platoforms like Instagram, etc.
And the same would apply for your cover photo. Since your profile picture in the foreground should be the focal point, avoid overly funky colours and designs that may distract visitors. A colour palette that fades seamlessly into the background of your profile picture would be an interesting touch, or you could consider other creative approaches to that.
Completion and Features
One of the best practices for sprucing up your LinkedIn profile is to try your best to complete your profile. Currently there are a few key factors that would add to that completion status:
• Adding a Profile photo
• Inclusion of 2 or more professional functions and titles you have held before
• A brief summary of yourself
• Your current industry and where you are located
• At least 50 LinkedIn connections
• A minimum of 3 skills added
• Academic background and achievements
Each completed item off this checklist adds to your completeness ranking, and there are a few benefits to that. For one, the more complete your profile is, the more likely it is to turn up in search results from LinkedIn. This works well, especially if you’re trying to push your visibility out to potential headhunters and people within your industry passively.
This optimisation for search engines works not only internally with LinkedIn; major search engines like Google enjoy displaying LinkedIn and other social media profiles that are highly relevant to your search and solid in its content and completion.
On the topic of a LinkedIn summary, many professionals advise the use of keywords to boost visibility, especially in relevant industries. As executive recruiters who utilise LinkedIn on a daily basis, here at Citadel Search we can attest to that – our candidate search begins with searching for specific keywords and many of the profiles we do view happen to contain a good amount of such words in their summary. However, we also happen to see many summaries which contain an abnormally large amount of buzzwords that are irrelevant, excessively generic or overly used. While we do agree with the use of keywords for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), our advice is to use these words appropriately and avoid placing them too often within a certain sentence or paragraph.
Another two feature to consider using are the endorsement and recommendations. Endorsements of skills that you boast on the site reflects greatly on your experience and skills, and the more endorsements you have for a particularly skill we are seeking, the more thrilled we are to profile you to our clients. Recommendations work as reference checks as well, and we may contact the people who gave you these recommendations for actual references for certain roles.
Updates and Activity
As its main function is a social media in itself, your activity and updates on LinkedIn matters just as much as your profile. Seek to join interest groups, or follow thought leaders and influencers in your area of expertise or in places you wish to develop your career into. Industry news, political insights, and opinion pieces are all content that you can get from these places on LinkedIn, and it really is not too difficult to share or like a piece you think is brilliant or simply agree with.
While everyone can like or share an article they enjoyed, what can truly make you shine is writing and publishing your own articles on LinkedIn itself. Have a burning opinion, unique expertise or deep insight that you think is novel and wish to share? Publish and let the rest of us know about it – creating content not only boosts your profile, it also raises the opinions and improves the understanding that others will have of you.
With more than a decade worth of experience in Executive Search, Citadel Search has tapped on many avenues for recruitment, but we continue to marvel at the efficiency and effectiveness that online platforms such as LinkedIn deliver. In the years to come, we predict LinkedIn will remain one of the most relevant professional social media sites to develop your career aspirations. If you have not done anything on your Linkedin profile, it would definitely be a good idea to consider investing time into optimising it.