By Sarah K. White, CIO
Your professional brand is a big deal, and it's more crucial to your job search than ever before. With one search, recruiters and hiring managers can quickly bring up your online presence and make snap judgments before they decide if you are worth a phone call. Cultivating a strong presence can mean the difference between having to search out job listings and having potential job opportunities come straight to your inbox.
LinkedIn is undoubtedly the front runner when it comes to cultivating your professional image; it's your professional brand, letting recruiters and hiring managers find you before you find them. But what do recruiters look for on LinkedIn? And what makes a recruiter or hiring manager stop at your profile over another?
The first step is making sure you have a complete profile, "a recruiter is going to look at a complete profile versus an incomplete one, they are making decisions quickly, they want to have as much information they can have," says Catherine Fisher, senior director of corporate communications and LinkedIn's career expert.
Fisher specializes in helping people and companies build a LinkedIn profile that will attract clicks, and she has the inside scoop on the perfect recipe for a LinkedIn profile that will make recruiters stop in their tracks.
Upload a photo
This is probably the easiest thing you can do, but if you don't have one already, go upload a profile picture on your LinkedIn account. According to data from LinkedIn, those with a profile photo are 14 times more likely to have their profile viewed than users without a picture. It's a simple step that can make a world of difference when a recruiter is scanning LinkedIn for potential candidates.
Think of LinkedIn as a visual representatoion of your professional brand, whatever you would want to include on your resume, you want to include on LinkedIn. Therefore, including your experience is paramount to the success of your profile, and, ultimately, your career.
Even if you worked as a receptionist or a waitress for a few years before landing your first full-time job, highlight every skill that can be applied to the workforce. Whether its teamwork, customer service, or organization, position your past experience in a way that shows you've learned valuable skills for the workforce, says Fisher.
The data backs it up, too; you're 12 times more likely to be viewed on LinkedIn if you have more than past positions listed, according to statistics from LinkedIn. "[Be] thoughtful about how you're framing it up, and [focus] on what you can apply and how you use those skills to accomplish your goals," says Fisher.
As your career progresses, so should your profile, says Fisher. Keep it updated with new experience, examples of your work, and any advances in your professional life. One easy way you can accomplish this is by uploading actual projects you have worked on in the past. You can post a slide share, publish a story, or include other concrete visuals and documents that demonstrate work you are proud of.
If a recruiter or hiring manager lands on your page, they will be able to see tangible evidence of your success. When a recruiter lands on your page, they will have tangible evidence of your success, which will make the decision to reach out to you even easier.
Education and volunteer work
You may not consider including your volunteer experience on your profile, but 42 percent of hiring managers report equating volunteer experience to formal work experience, according to a survey by LinkedIn. And listing your education is important as well; you can score 10 times more profile views if you list out your education than those who don't, and you are 15 times more likely to be contacted.
When a recruiter or hiring manager sets out to find potential candidates, they are going to look within their own industry. This is another small thing you can do to greatly increase the chances that your profile will be viewed. Stats show that those who include an industry on their profile are 15 times more likely to be viewed than those who ignore this important step.
LinkedIn is more than just a place to post your professional accomplishments, step away and hope it will all work out for you. Just as with any other social network, you get as much out of it as you put into it. That means you need to stay engaged and show that you are an active participant in your industry. You don't need to post constantly, but as Fisher states, "what you don't want to do is build [your profile] and then abandon it."
You can do this by sharing content you find on the Web, connecting with colleagues, interacting with your connection's posts, and publishing your own content. "The point is to be engaged with your network on LinkedIn," says Fisher.
Your personal social media accounts might be where you go to connect with friends and family, or keep up to date with the latest Instagram pet-celebrities. But LinkedIn should be viewed differently, as your professional brand, and it's something you don't want to ignore. Cultivating a strong presence and having a complete profile will go a long way to ensure you catch a recruiter or hiring manager's eye.