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Job hunting in the digital age requires more than a structured resume and curated cover letter. With a wealth of information of yourself online for the world to see, employers can easily get an idea of who you are before they even meet you face-to-face.
Because of this, your online presence – specifically the way you present yourself – is known to have a big impact on your job prospects.
But forget the horror stories of people losing their jobs over inappropriate social media posts: less spoken about are the positive effects of having a strong online presence when it comes to job hunting.
When done well, your LinkedIn profile is the perfect platform to demonstrate your skills and professionalism, while also expressing your personality.
Whether you’re discovering the online world of LinkedIn for the first time, or thinking your profile might need an update for an upcoming job application, Social Media Coordinators in Deakin’s Marketing Division, Melanie Maizels and Tran Nguyen, share tips to help your profile stand out.
Your LinkedIn headshot is arguably the most important feature on your profile. It sits at the top of the page, and should instantly give potential employers an idea of who you are – as a professional.
Maizels says this is the most crucial thing to remember when choosing your photo. ‘Do you really need to have a beer in your hand? Are you looking presentable?’
Unlike other social media, LinkedIn isn’t the place to show people how much you love a drink or two, or how cute your pet is. Your headshot should make you look friendly and approachable, but also give an idea of what you’ll bring to the table in a workplace.
‘It doesn’t need to be a professional photo, but the quality does need to be high so that it is clear. Definitely no blurry or cropped photos from a night out,’ Maizels advises.
‘Your profile photo can be taken on an iPhone, however when possible, have someone else take it for you (no selfie mode).’
It’s also not the best platform to seek anonymity by omitting photos of yourself. One of LinkedIn’s primary uses is for networking, and if potential future employers and colleagues can’t see who you are, they’re less likely to want to connect with you.
In fact, by adding a photo you’ll get, on average, 21 times more profile views, 9 times more connection requests and 36 times more messages.
Sitting under your headshot, the summary section of LinkedIn is your next big opportunity to stand out to an employer.
‘So many people can have the same set of skills and experience, and what sets people apart is their personality. Using the summary section can set LinkedIn users apart,’ Nguyen explains. ‘This is where you can add a bit of personality onto your page.’
Showing your ‘human side’ and personality on LinkedIn is a way to stop your profile from being an exact replica of your resume – it adds interest and offers an idea of what you’ll bring to the workplace aside from your technical skills.
But there’s no need to fill your summary with personal anecdotes from when you were in primary school.
‘As the section is called “summary”, it’s best to keep it short and simple,’ Nguyen advises.
Many of us have heard the terrifying rumour that recruiters spend only six seconds looking at your resume. Whether this is true or not, a similar story applies for LinkedIn too – recruiters don’t have the time to browse through everything you put on your page – which is why it’s important to make your profile ‘sticky’.
This means making your page as engaging as possible to hold the attention of anyone who comes across it (including potential employers).
'So many people can have the same set of skills and experience, and what sets people apart is their personality. Using the summary section can set LinkedIn users apart.'
Marketing Division, Deakin University
‘You should regularly post about your recent achievements and awards on Linkedin,’ Maizels says. ‘This way future employers can scroll through more than just your previous work experience.’
While there’s no right or wrong way to post about these things, there are strategies you can employ to make your page stand out, explains Nguyen.
‘Including media in your LinkedIn profile page is a great way to showcase your previous work and achievements. For example, if you’re a creative director or photographer, it allows you to provide visual examples of your work, something that words cannot do as effectively,’ Nguyen says.
‘For writers or researchers, including links to articles or listing publications is another fantastic way to show future employers what you have achieved previously, and what you’re capable of doing.’
It’s also a good idea to add descriptions to the experience section of your profile, as this will very quickly give anyone looking it an idea of the kind of duties and roles you’ve undertaken and have practice in.
‘Job titles (these days) are so broad and vague, and do not provide much detail into what duties and responsibilities are undertaken,’ Nguyen explains.
‘By adding descriptions it allows potential employers to get an idea of what your job entails. Having said that, it’s recommended to include only key responsibilities as opposed to day-to-day tasks.’
A great way to throw yourself into the networking side of LinkedIn is by contributing to discussions and even create your own posts.
‘Your LinkedIn posts give an insight into your personality and expertise in the industry you are working in. Don’t be afraid to express your thoughts on a topic that relates to your industry,’ Maizels says.
Nguyen reiterates this, explaining, ‘expressing your thoughts can help solidify you as a thought-leader within the industry.
‘Having said that, you must be kept abreast of the latest developments and trends. For example, digital marketing changes so often, and if you write an expert piece on the topic, you need to ensure you have the latest knowledge and findings,’ Nguyen advises.
‘It’s also important to note that you’re not the only expert in any area.’
No matter what you’re posting about, Maizels has some keen words of advice: ‘Just remember who your audience is – they’re not your best mates. They are your former, current and future colleagues and employers.’
Finally, don’t underestimate the gravity of having endorsements on your profile.
Nguyen says, ‘Endorsements are important as it allows potential employers get an idea of what you’re like in the workplace – whether you’re easy to work with, how you operate in a workplace, etc.’
It’s almost like having a referee, but instead they’re backing you and your skills publicly, online.
‘What’s great is not only managers can provide endorsements, but also colleagues – the people who work closely with you the most.
‘And how do you get them? You simply ask the person to write one for you, or in some cases, people can submit one to you unsolicited,’ Nguyen explains.
If you’re keen to receive a few endorsements, a good place to start is by giving them to others – you might make a colleague’s day, and it’s a great way to strengthen your network.
Now that you’ve got a standout LinkedIn profile, don’t forget about your other social media platforms. Take this quiz to find out how curated your social media presence is.
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