The job market has been flipped on its head in 2020. The way we work and hire in tech has been changed forever, and as a result, our process and outlook has to change, too. With most of us working from home in some capacity, social media, especially LinkedIn, is something that we constantly have to have a plan for, no matter what your employment status is.
LinkedIn is a vital tool and a great platform to build your credibility and your career. If you have a LinkedIn profile, it’s typically for 1 of 4 reasons.
Looking to Hire and add to your current team
Aggressively seeking employment (#OpenToWork)
Passively seeking employment and not wanting to tip off your boss
Everything else - want to look professional, be a thought leader, or increase your personal branding
In other words :
𝕆 - #OpenToWork
ℙ - Passively Seeking
𝔼 - Everything Else
As they say, “Hope is not a strategy.”
There’s a few things that everyone should have in common on a LinkedIn profile, if only for the sake of aesthetic and readability. I’ll talk you through these first, and then I’ll go into the specific moves you need to make to hit your career goals.
We’re going to start at the bottom of the LinkedIn profile and work our way up.
𝕀𝕟𝕥𝕖𝕣𝕖𝕤𝕥𝕤- This section isn’t necessarily the most important. It can give your audience some insight into your character or what you enjoy, but it’s not a make-or-break.
ℝ𝕖𝕔𝕠𝕞𝕞𝕖𝕟𝕕𝕒𝕥𝕚𝕠𝕟𝕤- You should have at least a couple of these. If you’re too embarrassed to ask, keep in mind that people don’t know your personal relationship to the people who recommend you. Maybe you have a friend who has a good title at a good company and wouldn’t mind writing one for you. At the end of the day, it’s not a huge deal, but it’s definitely a nice to have.
𝕊𝕜𝕚𝕝𝕝𝕤 & 𝔼𝕟𝕕𝕠𝕣𝕤𝕖𝕞𝕖𝕟𝕥𝕤- Not everyone is going to look at this section, but it can be nice to have something here. It’s not hard to get people to endorse you, especially friends and colleagues. I wouldn’t recommend having anymore than ten skills and endorsements. Instead of looking well-rounded, you’ll look like you’re trying too hard, and it will look sloppy.
High Schools/Prep Schools- First off, there’s no need to put your high school or preparatory school on your LinkedIn profile. If it is extremely prestigious, then maybe you can make a case for it, but for the most part, if you’ve been out of college, there’s no need to have any education beforehand.
College & University- This section has the most controversy when it comes to opinions, which usually has to do with indecision about putting the dates or not.
There’s typically three reasons why you wouldn’t have the dates:
Hide your age
Something to hide
Keep in mind, people will always assume the worst, so my advice is just be honest and get ahead of whatever the problem is. In addition, make sure all of your schools have logos, that is a common mistake. Without them, it won’t look official. Most, if not all, colleges and universities should have logos for LinkedIn.
ℂ𝕖𝕣𝕥𝕚𝕗𝕚𝕔𝕒𝕥𝕚𝕠𝕟𝕤- If they’re relevant to the field or the field you’re looking to get into, list them. If not, don’t. If you’re going to list them, make sure they’re not expired.
𝔸𝕨𝕒𝕣𝕕𝕤 & 𝔸𝕔𝕔𝕠𝕞𝕡𝕝𝕚𝕤𝕙𝕞𝕖𝕟𝕥𝕤- This is an “all or nothing” section. You should either put them all or put none of them.
𝔼𝕩𝕡𝕖𝕣𝕚𝕖𝕟𝕔𝕖 - This is where you need to ask yourself, “What is the story I’m trying to tell, and what is the goal I’m hoping to accomplish?” Ideally, you want to show a progression throughout your career. This is the meat of your profile. Have you moved up in various leadership roles? Maybe you’ve managed global teams. What are you trying to show the world?
While everyone has a different story they’re trying to tell, here are some common things you want to ensure you have correct.
Current Title- This is very important, because your current title is how people will find you on LinkedIn. If someone is looking for a software engineer, they’re going to type in “Software Engineer” on LinkedIn. Recruiters pay for search engines to look up good people, and one of the ways they do that is by title. I have a whole article on how to fully use LinkedIn where I explain more about that.
𝔸𝕔𝕥𝕚𝕧𝕚𝕥𝕪- You want to make sure that what you’re interacting with is relevant. LinkedIn isn’t like Facebook or Twitter. What you post on LinkedIn should be something you’d be comfortable with your boss or the CEO of your company seeing. Are you commenting on the latest drama with the Kardashians, or are you responding to a thought-provoking post by Bill or Melinda Gates?
Articles- These fall under the activity section and are a great way to put out knowledge and build up your credibility in your field. They can be long or short, and you can write them about anything, but on that note, make sure what you’re saying is relevant. Don’t be overwhelmed at the idea of publishing something. Your first article can be short- just put something out into the world and see what kind of reaction you get.
𝔽𝕖𝕒𝕥𝕦𝕣𝕖𝕕- This is a newer section for 2020. It allows you to pin your customized activity that you want to feature. This is one of the first things people will see on your profile, so if you’ve been mentioned in other articles or have written any articles, you want to make sure you pin them here.
𝔸𝕓𝕠𝕦𝕥- This is your elevator pitch. This is the nitty gritty of exactly what you want everyone to know about you. This should be carefully crafted to showcase your best professional self. Mention some of your great characteristics, projects you’re working on, or current responsibilities. Be careful - don’t make this too long or no one will bother to read it. It’s called an elevator pitch for a reason.
Think about who will be reading this and what you want their takeaway about you to be. Depending on where you fall on the HOPE strategy, that’s how you should frame it. If you’re looking for a job, talk about the work you've done throughout your career. If you’re hiring, talk about some of the cool projects you’ve been able to accomplish in your current role.
ℍ𝕖𝕒𝕕𝕝𝕚𝕟𝕖- This is what’s written right underneath your name and can be customized. This is the first thing people will see when they look you up, so you want it to be catchy and straight to the point. It can be your current title at your job, or if you’re trying to entice recruiters, make sure you’re using a keyword that relates to the kind of role you want to be considered for.
ℂ𝕠𝕟𝕥𝕒𝕔𝕥 𝕀𝕟𝕗𝕠𝕣𝕞𝕒𝕥𝕚𝕠𝕟- If you’re going to put anything here (which you don’t have to), make sure it’s the correct information. There’s nothing worse than realizing all your career-related emails have been going to your “.edu” address you haven’t touched since you graduated. Or even worse - to your old work email.
𝕊𝕠𝕔𝕚𝕒𝕝 𝕄𝕖𝕕𝕚𝕒- To keep your LinkedIn profile professional, it is imperative you do not share any social media links that aren’t also professional. If you’re a tech professional tweeting about the latest in AI, by all means set up that link. If you’re live-tweeting pictures of your kids at a soccer game, LinkedIn is not the place to showcase that.
ℍ𝕖𝕒𝕕𝕤𝕙𝕠𝕥- You need to have a photo of yourself on LinkedIn. It’s non-negotiable. If people are looking for you on LinkedIn, having no photo will instantly make you less credible than you would’ve been otherwise. It doesn’t have to be a professionally taken headshot, either. You can have it taken on an iPhone. Really the only thing you don’t want to do is crop yourself out of a group photo from an event. This looks sloppy, and your career shouldn’t scream ‘sloppy.’ Afterall, would you wear a wrinkled shirt to work? One more tip: SMILE! People don’t want to reach out to someone who looks angry.
ℍ𝕖𝕒𝕕𝕖𝕣 𝕀𝕞𝕒𝕘𝕖- This is something that will make you look a lot more put-together. Yes, LinkedIn gives you that generic blue header, but updating it will make you stand out. See what other people in your company have used for their backgrounds, or pick something that represents your personal brand. When in doubt, you want to look at people who have jobs that you want. Mimic what they’ve done, because clearly, it’s working.
That completes the details of going through a profile. Depending where you are on the HOPE strategy, we’ll take a deeper dive into what your LinkedIn profile should contain. Choose which one sounds most like you and read the appropriate section below.
If you’re on LinkedIn as a hiring manager trying to fill a role or roles, not find a new one, your plan of attack is going to be a little different. The number one thing you want to do is make sure you’re representing both yourself and your company in a positive light. You want people to get excited about the chance to work with you and your company.
Start with changing the header on your profile to something with your company’s logo- bonus points if you can get other colleagues to also use the same headers. Uniformity is a good look. In your about section, write a paragraph about your experience within that company. Mention opportunities you’ve had, projects you’ve worked on, things that you’ve learned - things that you would want to see if you were researching a company you might want to work for.
If you went to a good school, feel free to put that information at the top of your bio as well. It builds your credibility and speaks to the caliber of people your company hires.
COVID has hit everyone differently, and we are living in an unprecedented time. Regardless of your situation, there are more people looking for work than ever. People understand. On that note, before you classify yourself as an aggressive candidate, make sure you’re really okay with everyone at your current job knowing you’re on the hunt, if you are still employed. If you think your colleagues aren’t using LinkedIn, you’re fooling yourself, and they will find out. Sound irrelevant? It’s not.
You’re going to specifically want to curate your profile to attract HR and recruiters for the job you want. Of course, you don’t know who this person is specifically, but you can get a safe idea of what type of person they might be.
Keep this in mind, the person who will be your boss is not the one searching through your LinkedIn profile. It’s going to be a recruiter (internal or agency) or someone working in HR. These people aren’t going to be super technical, so don’t waste your time filling your profile with impressive lines of code. Instead, they’re just going to click, do a quick scroll-through, and decide if you’re worth a call.
In addition to the #OpenToWork, you can also click to display “open to opportunities” on your profile through a setting on LinkedIn, but like I mentioned, people at your current job will see this, so make sure you’re okay with having that out there.
If you’re a passive candidate, your profile won’t be that different from an aggressive candidate. You definitely won’t want to make any mention of your job search on your profile and you do not want to click the option that allows you to appear as open for jobs, unless you want your boss to call you in for an awkward Zoom meeting Monday morning. Instead, you want to appear as a content and integral part of your current team.
While the overall unemployment is above 10%, in technology it’s still under 3%. The idea is that if you’re one of the best, you’ll already be happily working somewhere, and that’s the impression you’re going to want to give on your LinkedIn page.
Make sure your dates are accurate for your current job tenure. If you’ve had a steady stream of promotions, accurately depict that on your profile. Interact with things relating to your company on LinkedIn. Fill your profile with keywords, especially in your about section and headline. You want to ensure recruiters can still find you, but you definitely don’t want to put on your profile that you’re open to new positions at risk of opening an awkward conversation with your boss.
Maybe you want to give a good impression, but you really don’t have any interest in keeping up regularly on LinkedIn or growing your online presence. In this case, there are some bare minimums you should meet.
You should at least have the companies you’ve worked for listed on your profile, and they should all have logos. You should list at least one job per company. Put your title on your headline. Have a profile picture, preferably one in which you’re smiling. Make sure all your dates are accurate and updated, and as a final touch, you can upload some kind of header, maybe something with your company logo. (If you are in the everything else category, and you’ve read this much of the article, thank you.)
Regardless of where you want to be, this shouldn’t take you longer than 15 to 30 minutes. LinkedIn is an important platform for all of us, no matter where we stand in our careers. If you want to invest in your career, this is something you should take the time to do, and why wouldn’t you? There are different ways we can utilize it, and hopefully now you’re able to understand which direction is right for you based on where you’d like to go in your career.