Whether you’re using LinkedIn for executive job search . . . or career management . . . or building business, you should want to make it work optimally for you.
I review lots of LinkedIn profiles every day, and see some things that still baffle me.
People put things on their profiles that don’t belong there, but they also neglect to put things on them that really need to be there.
Generally speaking, they fail to put themselves in the shoes of people assessing them, and make it easy for these people to find out exactly what they need to know.
7 Things You Probably Didn’t Do on LinkedIn, But Should
There are many things people do wrong with LinkedIn. Here are 7 very important things too many people DO NOT do on LinkedIn, but should.
1. Include a contact email and/or phone number, and make it easy to find.
I often go to someone’s LinkedIn profile to find their contact information when I needed to get in touch with them. All too often, they haven’t added any contact information, so I’m left empty-handed.
Some people do add their contact info to their profile, but they bury it in hard-to-find places, like the About section.
The best place is the most obvious one – in the “Contact info” spot that sits under your name and profile headline, in the introduction section at the very top of your profile.
Eyes are drawn to the top of the web page first, so naturally people will be able to find your contact info immediately.
2. Be mindful of SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
Many job seekers are not aware of how important it is to include the right keywords in their job search materials . . . especially in these 3 ways:
- To help you get found online through your LinkedIn Profile and other online content by and about you.
- To help your resume get through Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) used by recruiters and employers.
- To help people assessing you understand and differentiate the value you offer.
What are keywords?
Keywords are the words and phrases that people will search online to find people like you.
In particular, recruiters and hiring managers routinely search various phrases to identify and then assess potential hires for their client companies, such as “Information Technology Executive, Enterprise Business Systems”.
Working from this understanding, you need to determine which are the right keywords for your particular job search.
Pay attention to SEO in all content throughout your profile, and fully populate every applicable section of your profile.
More about this in my post, How Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Impacts Executive Job Search.
Determining the right keywords for you
Identifying the right relevant keywords and phrases revolves around the 3 critical executive job search first steps:
Targeting . . . Research . . . Personal Branding
When you target specific companies or organizations that will be a mutual good fit, you’ll be able to research each one to learn what qualities and qualification of yours will be important to them.
You’ll build your personal brand around those qualities and qualifications, so that your personal brand story and messaging will resonate with your target employers.
Following this strategy will make the content in your LinkedIn profile position you as a good-fit candidate for the employers you want to work for.
Pay special attention to these most potent SEO sections of your LinkedIn profile:
- Name field – add relevant certifications and/or designations to your last name
- Headline – customize this instead of keeping the default headline, which is your most recent job title
- Job titles – expand on your actual title by adding more keywords
Why do you need to fully populate every applicable LinkedIn profile section?
That’s an easy one:
More content = more relevant keywords = better findability for your profile and you.
3. Balance your SEO-driven content with personal brand-reinforcing content.
You need to go beyond packing your profile with relevant keywords.
If your profile mostly contains keywords that represent your hard skills, it may suffer from sameness. That is, you may appear to have the same qualifications and qualities that your competitors have.
You need to differentiate yourself in your profile, to stand out and above the others.
Along with the right keywords, your profile needs to at least somewhat convey your personality. And it needs to generate chemistry for you as a candidate and potential employee.
Defining your personal brand and syncing it with your hard skills and qualifications will get you there.
More in my post, How to Balance Personal Branding With Personal SEO.
4. Check Settings & Privacy to be sure everything is set right.
In general, anywhere you have the option to choose how visible various parts of your profile are should be as wide open as possible. Don’t hide information from people’s view.
You may want to jig particular things to your own liking, so spend a little time looking around.
For instance, under “Privacy”, consider adjusting “Profile viewing options”. If you’re actively viewing profiles of others, but you don’t want them to know it (for whatever reason), choose “Private mode” here. You can switch back and forth as needed, when you are and are not viewing other profiles.
One spot I definitely want you to adjust on the “Privacy” page.
LinkedIn added the Resume Assistant feature shortly after they were acquired by Microsoft in 2016.
I heard that LinkedIn was going to pull this feature sometime soon, but it looks like it’s still there.
What does this feature do?
According to LinkedIn Help:
“Resume Assistant in Microsoft Word helps you to create effective resumes by providing you content suggestions to include in your resume. Based on the role and industry you’re interested in, you’ll receive suggestions regarding work experience summary, skills, and also other relevant content available in LinkedIn.”
When they first rolled out Resume Assistant, they also disclosed:
“The work experience examples come from public profiles on LinkedIn, and they’re based on the roles and industries that you filter for in Resume Assistant, so you get the inspiration you need to create a great resume.”
Even though LinkedIn no longer makes it clear, Resume Assistant still works this way. It aggregates vast amounts of content from the profiles of people who have not opted out of this feature. If you don’t opt out, you’re in the program by default. Your profile content will be dumped into the mix, along with everyone else’s.
This means that unscrupulous people have easy access to the content in your LinkedIn profile, so they can easily copy parts of it into their own profiles.
You’ve spent time (and perhaps money) creating great content that now LinkedIn has enticingly placed in front of thousands of members to “use” for themselves.
Here’s how to opt out of Resume Assistant:
- Click the Me icon at the top of your LinkedIn homepage.
- Select Settings & Privacy from the dropdown and click Data privacy.
- Select Other applications and click Change next to Microsoft Word.
- Change the toggle to No to opt out.
Read more about this in my post, How LinkedIn’s Resume Assistant Can Negatively Impact Your Personal Brand.
LinkedIn frequently changes things in Settings & Privacy, so get in the habit of revisiting these pages often.
5. Build up your connections to at least 500.
The more people you’re connected with, the wider you’ve cast your net for opportunities, the more people you’re staying top-of-mind with . . . thus the more likely more good-fit opportunities will come your way.
And, the more connections you have, the more people who are likely to share or like or comment on anything you publish on LinkedIn – updates, articles, comments, etc. – therefore spreading the word about your personal brand and unique value.
And, once you reach the 500+ connections mark, your profile ranks higher in search results, making you more visible and findable.
More in my post, How Many LinkedIn Connections Are Good For Executive Job Search?
It’s also important to personalize each invitation you send out.
Branding is all about differentiating yourself and standing out from the crowd. Don’t follow the crowd and send the default invitation to connect.
The very fact that you take a few moments to compose a brief, personalized invitation will make you stand out. Such few people do this, that it will make you more memorable.
The people you want (and need) to connect with you will be much more likely to accept, if you take a little time to craft a personalized message.
More about invitations to connect in my post, How to Connect on LinkedIn with People You Don’t Know . . . and Get Action.
6. Share updates regularly and support other people’s posts.
A powerful tool that most people don’t use on LinkedIn is the ability to “share (or post) updates”. You’ve probably seen other people’s updates in your LinkedIn stream when you first log on.
Take a look at those updates to get ideas for your own updates. Click on “Home” in the menu at the top of your profile and fill in your update where it says (as of this writing) “Start a post”.
A few things you should do to help boost brand evangelism and keep your brand top-of-mind:
- Tag people
- Include hashtags
- Include a video or other visual
- Control who sees your updates
Another important thing to do regarding updates:
Combine your posting activities with supporting others’ updates.
For other people’s posts:
“Liking” (or otherwise reacting to) their updates is okay (and better than doing nothing), but “Commenting” and “Sharing” them is much better.
Actually contributing a compelling comment on someone else’s update gives you an opportunity to demonstrate your subject matter expertise and thought leadership.
And, taking the time to compose a meaty comment helps build brand evangelism for you. It makes people very happy. They’ll be more likely to comment on, or share, your updates.
7. Give and get good LinkedIn recommendations.
Write brand-driven recommendations for others and request recommendations from those who you know will write you a good one.
Having at least a handful of persuasive, brand-reinforcing recommendations, posted within the past few years, make you a more attractive candidate. Of course, more recommendations is even better.
If you’ve been viewing other people’s LinkedIn profiles for research or any reason, I’m sure you’ve been impressed when you come across recommendations for these people.
Good recommendations support your personal brand and ROI to the employers you’re targeting.
The true measure of your brand to future employers is reflected in what those who know your work the best have to say about you – co-workers, peers, top management, team members, Boards of Directors, vendors, customers, etc.
More in my post, Give To Get the Best LinkedIn Recommendations.