Some think the idea of having a personal brand is something new. It’s not. I first read a book about personal branding almost 20 years ago. Fast Company published an article about personal branding—”The Brand Called You” by Tom Peters—in 1997. Whether you realize it or not, you already have a personal brand. It’s what people say and think about you when you’re not around. You probably think of it as your reputation.
Everything you say and do in person and online affects your personal brand. As your face to the business world, your LinkedIn profile contributes to that. You’re missing opportunities if you’re not using your profile banner and Featured and Professional Experience sections to boost your brand.
LinkedIn Profile Banner
I’m surprised how many LinkedIn profiles still have LinkedIn’s default background image. The current two-tone grey and cream default background is more subdued than the previous shades of LinkedIn blue with connected dots. Still, it’s ineffective. Not uploading a background image makes your profile, and by extension, you, look generic.
Stock images of cityscapes, landscapes, etc., that I’ve seen many people use on their profiles are better than LinkedIn’s default. If you decide to use stock images, look for photos that are related to your business, career or industry in some way. And make sure to purchase the rights to use them. Otherwise, you could be liable for copyright infringement.
Most recruiters and hiring managers are sourcing candidates on social media, particularly LinkedIn. In fact, 53% of recruiters said they found the highest quality candidates on Linkedin when responding to Jobvite’s 2021 Recruiter Nation Survey. This is great news if you have a robust, optimized LinkedIn profile.
As a recruiter I spent hours on LinkedIn sourcing candidates, often scrolling through 500+ possible matches. Some were easily eliminated due to missing or inappropriate photos. My all-time favorite unsuitable photo is the woman wearing a wedding gown, veil, and all.
Potential candidates fell into 2 categories:1) Yes, contact them immediately and 2) they might be a possibility. The one thing that consistently moved candidates from maybe to yes was if it was easy to contact them.
The point is, don’t make the mistake of thinking if recruiters want to contact you they will track you down or use an InMail. Unless they think you are a perfect candidate, they may not. You can increase your odds by making it easy for them by including contact information on your LinkedIn profile.
Like most of my colleagues, I tell my clients that having a photo on their LinkedIn profile is essential. For one thing, it improves your visibility. Profiles with profile pictures can get up to 21 times more views than profiles without them, according to LinkedIn.
A strong, engaging profile photo can help you get a job or land new clients. It’s the first thing recruiters see when searching LinkedIn for potential candidates. It’s the first thing people who’ve been given your name see when they visit your profile to learn more about you. If you don’t have a photo, most people will wonder why.
Your LinkedIn profile represents you on the business world stage. So, it’s important to post a headshot with a professional yet approachable look. While “professional” varies by industry, smiles are universal.
While I know all this and preach it to my friends and clients, I was surprised at the impact things like a photo’s background had on people’s opinions. Although, I’m not big on sharing photos of myself, I thought providing this example was worth it.
Resume writers are often asked about the prevalence of age discrimination. As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, serious concerns begin around age 55, but some people, particularly my female friends, tell me they begin to feel it in their mid-forties.
Yes, age discrimination is out there. But there are many other reasons why candidates don’t get hired.
The interviewer may think you are too young or too forward-thinking or too laid back. She may dislike you because you remind her of a former boss or spouse she doesn’t like.
We all have conscious and unconscious biases.
You can’t control other people’s bias, but you can eliminate things that make you look old and/or dated. Here are 5 things to change today.
#1 Have a Modern Email
Using an @aol or @yahoo email address makes you look like you’re stuck in 1995. Keep those addresses for family and friends but choose something more current like @gmail for your job search. Never use your company’s email to contact recruiters, resume writers, career coaches, etc.
Many employers monitor employee email accounts, and they have the legal right to do so.
Include your email address in LinkedIn About section to make it easy for recruiters and employers to contact you. If your job search is confidential you can include a statement like “always interested in connecting with like-minded people” or “always happy to connect with clients and colleagues” as well.
If you’re unemployed, you can include a pitch for hiring you.
LinkedIn is your face to the business world. It’s often the place recruiters looking for candidates will meet you. It’s the place recruiters and employers who are impressed with your resume will go to learn more about you. While LinkedIn is considered a business platform, it’s important to remember that it’s also a social network. Like many things, you’ll get as much out of LinkedIn as you put into it.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of articles on executive resume do’s and don’ts.
Make sure there are no misspelled words or typos, Take out the Objective Statement. Put in a Summary Statement. Don’t forget to include complete contact information.
I’ve probably written over a dozen myself.
However, there is one executive resume mistake that many job seekers make without realizing. It’s an error that can raise questions with a potential employer. I don’t see many posts about this, although it’s one of the easiest errors to avoid.
The mistake is inconsistency.
Your first introduction to 99% of recruiters and potential employers is either your resume or LinkedIn profile. If a recruiter sourcing you LinkedIn likes what he or she sees they will contact you and ask for your resume. If you send in a resume, an interested recruiter or potential employer will check out your LinkedIn profile.
Anyone who’s looking for a new job or potential clients has been told they need to be on LinkedIn. That’s true.
It’s also true that you need to be on LinkedIn because whether you like it or not, your LinkedIn profile, or lack of one, is part of your personal brand.
Certainly, recruiters and hiring managers who receive your resume will review your LinkedIn profile. So will potential clients and people that you meet at conferences, seminars, or networking events who want to learn more about you. Make sure what they find is your best self.
That includes having a headshot.
Headshots Are Essential
I know there are people who resist putting up a headshot because they’re afraid of discrimination. Yes, it’s out there. There are people who will think you’re too old or too young. Too ethnic or not ethnic enough. They may take an instant dislike to you because you remind them of a former boss or a neighbor they don’t like.
However, the benefits far outweigh the potential risks.
Sadly, LinkedIn is something many people neglect. They put in their job histories. They may even put a few sentences in their summary before considering it good to go.
Today, a robust, optimized LinkedIn profile that makes you stand out is essential to a successful job search.
If you have a skeleton profile with companies, job titles, a default headline and little else it’s unlikely that you’ll even be noticed in a recruiter’s search. Your profile may be 679 in a search that delivers 724 results.
Even if a recruiter, does plow through all 724 profiles, if a recruiter doesn’t see anything compelling he or she is unlikely to contact you. Today, hiring managers are looking at your profile too, so it really needs to pop.
Here are 5 ways to radically improve your chances of standing out on LinkedIn.
#1 Have A Photo
Many people shy away from putting a photo on their profile. Some fear discrimination. Others don’t like photos of themselves. I fall into the former. However, the upside of having a headshot far outweighs any potential downsides.
LinkedIn profiles with photos get 21X more views and 9X more connection requests. according to LinkedIn. On the other hand, if you don’t have a profile photo people wonder why. They wonder if you are hiding something.