how to use linkedin – fix your profile and closer to getting hired

You’re probably here because you want to update your LinkedIn profile, or you want to find a job and have heard that LinkedIn is one way to do so. Because there is no way for me to tell where you’re at, I will assume you know nothing of the platform. Feel free to skip to the section you need help with. Many people, including me, have found their jobs through LinkedIn. If you want to hear a story about someone who has used LinkedIn to find their role abroad, check out this blog post. I will be sharing more stories like this on my blog! Ok, let’s get into it.

What is LinkedIn?

LinkedIn is a social network built for professionals. You can use it to find jobs or connect with professionals and thought leaders in your industry. Recruiters and companies use LinkedIn to find talent. You want to create a LinkedIn profile if one of the above appeals to you. The best time to create a LinkedIn profile was yesterday! If you haven’t created one, you can start by visiting their website and creating a profile. Remember to use your full (and real) name, as well as an appropriate (!) email.

Your profile picture

You need to have a professional picture, that clearly looks like you. By professional, I don’t mean shot by a professional photographer. I mean a picture that shows you as a professional. You need to show your head and shoulders, and wear something that you would likely wear to work. You can keep your sexy pictures and weird smirks for other social platforms. They won’t cut it here. Make sure it’s a picture of just you. We can tell when you’ve cropped someone out of the picture you took at a party whilst you were wearing a nice suit! It’s up to you whether you smile or not. I prefer to smile because I’m usually smiling when you see me anyways. You can also read this LinkedIn blog post to get more guidelines on getting the best profile picture.

Your headline is your elevator pitch

Underneath your name comes your headline. You have one or two short sentences to tell people what you think they should know about you. What you choose to focus on is entirely up to you. Are you a top-selling sales person who drove x% of growth in revenue? Are you a strategist spearheading digital transformation projects at your firm? Whatever it is, make it concise, so the reader wants to learn more about you. You can also read this article to get more tips on why your headline matters.

Your summary is just that!

You decide if you want to tell people about your career, you personal achievements or your personality. I chose to talk about my career. What do you want people to know about you that may not already be listed in other parts of your profile? Or what is on your profile that you want to emphasise? You can find a list of sample summaries here. You have 2000 characters, so make them count. If you read my blog post with Mkhokheli who moved from South Africa to the Netherlands, he talks about how he customised his profile to suit the job he wanted. This is the place where you have free reign to use your story to position yourself as a candidate for a certain role.

List your relevant experience

Please DO NOT lie. List the places you have worked, and put the correct dates. Don’t worry about having career gaps. And don’t assume your experience might be irrelevant. Just put it there anyway. What’s important here is to highlight what your job role was, and what you achieved in that role. Depending on the stage of your career you’re at, you might want to leave out some small roles you did at the beginning. At the end of the day, you’re selling yourself. So decide what’s relevant to help you pitch yourself to your next employer. This is one of the most important parts of your profile. Take your time to ensure it shows you in a good light.

Education

No need for creativity here. Just list your qualifications. For professional certifications, see the section below. Don’t be intimidated by not having a degree, or not having an MBA. Make sure your relevant qualifications are listed and if not complete, prioritise finishing them. To work in some roles, you will need evidence of relevant professional qualifications. And to obtain a visa in other countries, you need to have a tertiary-level qualification.

List your licences and certifications

Any professional licences you have or certifications come here. For instance, if you are part of a professional body and they issue you a licence number to show you’re a valid member, list them here. If you’re a CFA charter holder of a CA, list those here too.

Show off your skills

What are the practical things you can do to add value to your firm. Examples of skills include research, sales, financial modelling, graphic design and coding. List everything that is relevant to your job. Make sure you list the skills you are known for, because later when you ask people to endorse you, they will endorse you for the skills that you have listed. It highlights what you’re good at, so make sure it’s all listed. The maximum you can add is 50, however, you can only display 3 as your featured skills. So pick the 3 you want people to see first.

Ask relevant financial people for endorsements

If this is your first time using LinkedIn, you should focus on connecting with people in your industry. If you have some relevant connections already, then start reaching out to them to endorse you for a relevant skill. Obviously, your endorsements carry more weight, if they come from someone who is credible. That could be, and expert in the area, or your boss.

Don’t shy away from showing off your accomplishments

If you achieve something that you feel recruiters need to know, add it here. This could be a competition you won or a project you ran. Your achievements don’t need to be linked to your career. They can actually help highlight other aspects of your personality that could make you an ideal candidate for your job. I won a pitch competition, so I listed it here. It speaks to my ability to pitch ideas, and attending an incubator is an achievement some founders aspire to attain. Find that thing you’re proud of, and that speaks to your abilities, and add it here.

List some of your interests

Most people have interests outside their traditional careers. There is no harm in sharing that here. It could make for interesting conversation during your interview!

Take your time with each of these sections, and make sure you have fixed each of these on your profile. Do you have any specific questions in making yourself more discoverable on LinkedIn? I will incorporate it in future blog posts.