At yesterday’s American Chemical Society virtual career fair, social media expert and author Joshua Waldman gave advice on how to optimise your LinkedIn profile for job-seeking. Although LinkedIn is not primarily a job search platform, Waldman says it’s safe to assume that potential employers will look you up online and so you should have control over the information presented about you.
To start with, make good use of your LinkedIn headline. This gets attached to your name and photo in every communication that you send within LinkedIn and “is probably going to be in many cases your first impression”, says Waldman. You can write up to 120 characters so instead of just listing your job title alone, consider crafting a statement that explains what you do and what sets you apart from others who do the same. You can change your headline by clicking on the edit link next to your name in the edit profile section.
Once you’ve optimised your headline, take a look at your profile summary. Waldman recommends this should answer the following questions:
- Who are you – name, job, specialising in…
- What do you do – what particular problems do you solve
- Why are you the best – describe your successes
If you are currently unemployed, also explain what kind of job you are looking for in your summary and incorporate a call to action to encourage potential employers to get in touch.
Your overall profile should be 100% complete, says Waldman. “Recruiters and hiring managers have been using LinkedIn for a long time now. They know when profiles are not complete and when they see [incomplete] profiles, [alarm bells] go off in their head.” Profiles that are complete also show up higher in LinkedIn search results.
If you are connected to your current employer and you don’t want them to know you are actively job-seeking, Waldman suggests you turn off your ‘activity broadcasts’. These announce when you change your profile, make a recommendation or follow a company. These alerts can be a “red flag for employers”, says Waldman. To turn off the broadcasts, click on settings under your name in the top-right of the page – the option is under privacy controls in the profile section.
Make sure you include a photo of yourself in your profile. “We are very visual animals,” says Waldman. “If we don’t have a picture, we create a feeling of distrust.” He adds that concerns over discrimination shouldn’t stop you posting a photo – as well as there being legal protection against discrimination, showing who you are can help you find a job you’ll be more comfortable in. “Unless you show up to your job interview with a paper bag over your head, they’re going to see you at some point,” says Waldman. “If the organisation is going to look at your picture on LinkedIn and make a discriminatory decision, that’s probably not a place you want to be at.”
Our final tip from Waldman’s talk is for students who are unsure if they should set up a LinkedIn profile before they start work – Waldman says go for it. “If you really look at your experiences, you can start to fill out a very nice-looking LinkedIn profile right away. You’ll have more time to grow a larger network and you’ll have a leg up on your peers who wait until they graduate.”
We’d also encourage you to join the Naturejobs science jobs and careers discussion group on LinkedIn to see highlights from Naturejobs and to connect with fellow jobseekers.