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.
If you want to differentiate yourself from the millions of others on LinkedIn, developing a reputation as a thought leader should be one of your strategies. If you’re new to LinkedIn or just new to the idea of engaging with other members, the easiest way to begin is by commenting on other people’s posts.
Engagement doesn’t mean scrolling madly through your feed, adding comments like “great post!” or “Love it!” That’s people who race around networking events, handing their business cards to every stranger because they just lost their job. Not a good look.
When people like me talk about “commenting,” they mean sharing at least 5-6 words that indicate you at least read the post. Sharing a few lines about why you liked the post is better. Providing insights that add to the conversation is better still.
Once you’ve got your footing, it’s time to begin creating and sharing content.
LinkedIn supports several options based on your purpose and comfort zone.
There are several content options. LinkedIn supports a variety of content that you can use based on your purpose and comfort zone. Text posts can be short or long, depending on the time you want to spend. Articles like this, sometimes referred to as long-form posts, are used to delve more deeply into a topic.
If you’re looking for a new opportunity or potential clients, you need to be on LinkedIn. At this writing, there are 850 million members in 200 countries around the globe, according to LinkedIn stats.
So that means while LinkedIn is full of opportunities, it’s also a big, noisy place. One of the best ways to stand out is with a profile video. Uploading a profile video, which plays silently for three seconds when someone clicks on your profile, gives people the chance to “meet” you: to learn a bit about who you are and what you do.
We’ve all heard the adage that people prefer to hire and work with people they know, like and trust. Creating a LinkedIn profile video can help move the getting-to-know-you process forward.
This feature was first rolled out in 2021 as Cover Story. It was updated and renamed Profile Video in early 2022. The change included providing stats on how many people have viewed your video.
Despite being widely available, many members still haven’t uploaded a profile video. They’ve decided to pass on a feature that can help them immediately stand out.
There’s no doubt that looking for a job during a pandemic is exceptionally challenging. Right now, millions are furloughed, underemployed or out of work. The United States unemployment rate was 6.7% (with 10 million+ unemployed) in November 2020, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics latest news release. While this number has declined over the last six months, it’s not close to the 3.5% level reported in February 2020.
That said, looking for a job in a booming economy isn’t easy either. When people feel confident in finding another job, they often decide to begin exploring opportunities. As they move from being passive job seekers (those who need to be enticed to move) to active job seekers, competition for plum positions grows.
The truth is, standing out from your competition is essential in any job market. It’s particularly important when you’re pursuing executive roles. One of the most effective ways to do that is by establishing yourself as a thought leader. Someone that people can recognize as an authority in their industry.
While you can’t become a thought leader overnight, you can begin working toward that today by providing value to your colleagues and community.
A tight job market means tougher competition. People who hadn’t considered moving a couple of years ago are passively looking. Those casually looking have transitioned from passive to active job seekers.
Today, standing out from your competition is essential.
If you’re a senior executive or pursing those roles, one of the best strategies is to have others see you as an authority in your industry, a thought leader.
One way to be recognized as a thought leader is to share knowledge with your community.
Whether you’re actively looking for a new job or just want to keep your options open, LinkedIn has a lot to offer. Of course, you need to have a robust LinkedIn profile. Today, LinkedIn is like Google for people, without an optimized profile it’s unlikely you’ll be seen in a recruiter’s search.
But creating a compelling LinkedIn profile is only the beginning. Over the last few years, LinkedIn has added several functions that can help you move forward in your job search.
Here are 4 ways to up your chances of finding a job through LinkedIn.
Tell Recruiters Your Looking
If you’re actively looking or even open to new opportunities, LinkedIn lets you tell recruiters you’re looking for free. It only takes a few minutes to go into your Settings & Privacy and set up your Job Seeking Preferences.
Once you click on Manage Job Alerts, LinkedIn allows you to edit your Career Interests. In Career Interests, you’ll have the opportunity to select Job titles you’re considering, types of jobs you’re open to, the size of the company you’d like to work for, and more. LinkedIn notes that while they can’t guarantee your employer won’t find out, they “take steps to keep Recruiter users who work at your company, as well as related companies, from seeing the career interests that you share.”
If you’ve been looking for a new job for more than 5 minutes, you’ve heard that you need to target employers. Most often, the advice is to develop a list of target employers, i.e. the employers you would most like to work for. Then, find a way to network your way in.
This strategy is recommended for a few reasons.
First, the best way to hear about jobs is by regularly checking the career section of your target’s website and/or knowing someone who works there. As a former recruiter, I can say that the only reason that businesses don’t post open positions is when the person doesn’t know they are being replaced.
Second, a resume given directly to someone at a company is more effective than responding to an ad on a job board. This can also be incredibly helpful if done after you respond to an online ad.
FYI, if a recruiter contacts you about an open position where you have a connection be sure to mention it. They may ask you to reach out to your connection to help grease the wheels.
When Microsoft purchased LinkedIn, everyone knew there would be changes. The end of last year, LinkedIn rolled out a big one. It’s called Resume Assistant.
According to LinkedIn, Resume Assistant provides samples from successful professionals that can be used as inspiration for members who want to update their resumes.
“Resume Assistant, provides real examples of how other professionals are describing their work experience — such as how they write their profile summary or explain responsibilities in their role — so you can highlight your skills in the right way to get the job you want.”
Essentially, it allows LinkedIn members access to the summaries, job descriptions, etc. of other members. Once the member provides their industry or target job title, Resume Assistant pulls what is called “insights” from other members’ profiles.
One problem is that it’s not opt-in, it’s opt-out. So, you profile can be accessed by Resume Assistant unless you change some of your settings.
Although LinkedIn is primarily a business networking site, it’s still considered social media. That’s part of the reason having a profile photo and, with the new user interface, a background photo too.
That said, LinkedIn is not Facebook. Which means your photo needs to be recruiter and employer ready.
Despite this, I often seen inappropriate photos used in LinkedIn profiles.
I don’t mean the obvious mistakes like party photos, although I’ve seen them, it’s photos that people have put some thought into.