As a worthwhile tool for graduates and jobseekers, the importance of LinkedIn can really not be overstated. Although it’s been around for quite some time, its power as an enabler for applicants and recruiters is still growing. Paul McClatchie, Director at Careers Register (the Financial & Legal Recruitment arm of Cpl Resources Plc), talks to gradireland about the difference a good LinkedIn Profile can make and where it sits within the recruitment process.
Online recruitment and applications processes have come a long way in recent years. gradireland’s own data shows that more and more companies are eschewing the traditional CV and cover letter in favour of online applications. Recruiters are always looking for well curated, impressively written applications, and are constantly looking for candidates that differentiate themselves and offer that little bit extra. This is where LinkedIn comes in. “For us, it’s a way of speeding up the recruitment process, it’s a very useful enabler for us when searching for a candidate with specific skills or qualifications or who has completed a certain course. It’s also very important for candidates to remember that employers themselves will very often look at a candidate’s LinkedIn profile, so it’s important that it looks professional, current and comprehensive,” says Paul.
Before you start, why not create a ‘word cloud’ of your skills and attributes from your CV and highlight the ones that you want to jump out at recruiters on your LinkedIn profile. “It’s a good exercise to create a blueprint for the sort of image you want to create and it also gives you the opportunity to think about what skills you have and, also, what gaps you may need to fill,” adds Paul.
So what sort of LinkedIn profile can make you seem like the right fit to recruiters? You’ve probably heard of an ‘all-star’ LinkedIn profile, but what exactly is this?
Photo: “Well it starts with a good picture. LinkedIn is different to other social networks; it’s a professional network, so pictures should reflect this. It’s not necessary to be formal, but smart, relaxed and smiling is what I like to see. People are less likely to look at your profile if you don’t have a photograph or if the photo is inappropriate. Remember, LinkedIn isn’t Facebook. This is the image of yourself that you want to convey to the professional world.”
Headline: “Describe yourself and what you’re looking for. Customise your headline to reflect the opportunities you’re seeking. Don’t just have ‘college graduate.’ Instead, something like “Commerce graduate with business experience seeking opportunities in corporate finance.”
Summary: “Ensure this is complete and matches your own timeline of education and employment. The tone should be conversational and engaging, while remaining professional.”
Reverse engineer your profile: “Find out what skills people working in the industry in which you want to work have. Then try to match as many of your skills as possible to make your profile seem appealing to employers. It’s not a case of creating an impression of something you’re not, but instead it’s a curating process to tailor your profile for the industry in which you want to work.”
Post content: “Get involved. Whether it’s posting relevant content of work you’ve done on your profile or contributing to discussions, interaction shows initiative and communication skills. Join relevant groups and if there is a discussion ongoing, join in. Post frequently if you feel you can make a contribution, it increases your visibility on LinkedIn searches.”
Connect responsibly: “LinkedIn is a professional network and there is a level of etiquette as to how you should connect, or request to connect, with somebody. It’s important that you don’t seem too familiar. For example, don’t try and connect with someone from a company with which you have an interview. It can be off-putting. Also, when you do connect with someone, personalise the connection by sending them a brief message, as simple as: ‘nice to connect with you and good to see you at the event this morning. Look forward to staying in touch in the future.’”
There are plenty of other ways you can make your profile stand out. Do some research on the sector you want to work in and look at good profiles in that sector. Use some keywords in your own profile as keywords are how many recruiters are searching for candidates on the platform. “It’s important not to overstate LinkedIn’s importance, a poor profile is not a deal breaker for a very good candidate and a good profile is not going to save a very poor application. But it’s a tool that can add depth to a candidate and provide information that may increase their attractiveness to employers,” adds Paul.