Career AdviceHow to Make the Most of Your LinkedIn Profile: An Interview with Pamela Shand Rose Walsh and Pamela Shand 

LinkedIn can be a tricky social media to navigate. Self promotion in such a public setting is difficult for everyone, but especially for women. However, if you’re looking for a job in 2020, your LinkedIn profile is invaluable and might just be the most important part of your job search. So, what kinds of things should you include in your profile? What kind of content should you be interacting with? We spoke with Pamela Shand, Talent Acquisition consultant and career coach, on how job seekers can make the most of their LinkedIn profiles. Pamela helps connect job seekers with the right kinds of roles and works with organizations to help them hire the right kind of talent. She has valuable insight on both sides of the job search, and we’re sure you’ll find it just as helpful and insightful as we did.

What value do you think a strong Linkedin profile can bring to job seekers? LinkedIn is an awesome tool for personal branding. It’s a tool you can use to get your values out there and find other people and organizations who align with those values. LinkedIn can help you find opportunities that aren't just a match for the basic things. It’s also probably the greatest way to get found. Which takes the hard work out of job seeking. It puts you in a position where you’re not just constantly pursuing employers- you get to position yourself to receive outreach.

What are your top LinkedIn musts for job seekers? First, a good picture. And not just a selfie. Make sure it’s straight on, well lit, with a plain background, something that looks clean and crisp. Use a picture that speaks to your career and your brand. It doesn’t necessarily have to be really formal. My second must is an attractive headline. Make sure your headline includes searchable words. Remember that there's two sides to LinkedIn, the job seeker side and the LinkedIn recruiter side. Recruiters and hiring managers are looking at your profile. It’s a boolean search* driven platform and they want to find you. So if they’re putting in keywords and you don’t have them in your profile- they won't find you. Include your industry, career choice, what job you want, to be found.

*This means it’s a kind of search platform that allows users, recruiters in this case, to combine keywords with Boolean operators (and, not, or). This way, they can narrow down their search by finding candidates who meet an array of criteria. This could include skills, location, interests, etc.

While we’re talking about headlines, what do you think makes a good headline and what are your thoughts about explicitly stating that you’re looking for a job or including “open to opportunities” in your headline? I don’t think you need to include it. It’s implied that you’re open to opportunities. We’re in an employment at will job market, recruiters will reach out even if you don’t have it written in your headline. Also, LinkedIn has features to tell recruiters that you’re looking for opportunities. It won’t appear on your page to the public, only to recruiters. Again, it’s a boolean search, so don't waste keyword space in your Headline. Instead, use that space to write about what you can bring to the table and what kinds of opportunities you’re looking for.

I know many people feel like LinkedIn is such a hard social media to spend time on. How important do you think it is to the job search? I think LinkedIn is really important in terms of building relationships and trying to grow your career. So many employers look at LinkedIn before they even look at a resume. Job seekers need to circumvent the process and go beyond the applicant tracking systems and the online applications and go right to hiring managers. Reach out and help them get to know you. A relationship will help you not get lost in the shuffle. With LinkedIn it’s really like a one stop shop job search, you can look at company pages, find jobs, even reach out to the person who posted the job and interview before you even apply. LinkedIn also allows you to research salaries, positions, and company information in different ways. It’s a much more in depth job search.

What are the tools that help job seekers most? Especially in light of searching for a job during COVID-19. Use your LinkedIn to position yourself as a passive candidate. Even if you aren’t looking for a job and you just want to be open to outreach. One of the biggest things you can do on LinkedIn is have a complete profile. It’s not just about listing the companies you’ve worked at. List your details. Key accomplishments, measurable impacts you’ve had, project’s you’ve taken charge of, etc. Your headline and summary are good places to tell your story. Inject searchable keywords. You can also use LinkedIn to find other people. Once you've connected to someone, send them an inmail. Take it off of LinkedIn, set up a zoom call. Do a virtual coffee. Just do it. Really, do what you can to make your profile findable. Remember, it’s not just for LinkedIn. Recruiters use Google as a search tool for talent and your LinkedIn profile will appear in searches. So make sure your profile has all the right information. Go through every section and don’t miss projects, awards, accomplishments, etc.

What kind of engagement /activity should job seekers be looking to cultivate? Should they be interacting with others in their field, companies, news? All of it- you should aim to have a diverse network of not just hiring managers. Start by connecting with people who are in line with where you’re headed, your trajectory, connect with peers, thought leaders, headhunters, agency recruiters, as they’ll have access to different opportunities. When they have a job to fill the first thing they'll do is look to their network. Remember that LinkedIn is all about getting found. In addition to your network, post content that speaks to who you are and what your values are. I personally love to see creative posts- things other people will share. If you're passionate about something in your field- post about it. There will be others who share those interests. Share things that matter to you, that reflect your technical expertise as well as the things you care about. Remember your passion is more than just a job, you want to be happy at work and that companies reflect your values. You want your LinkedIn to reflect your technical expertise and skills but also your passions. So cultivate a network where you are surrounded by individuals who are in line with your values. This way you’ll have a greater platform to speak to absolutely what's important to you.

What should people be including on their LinkedIn profile? I think the more the merrier, but it has to be done the right way. On LinkedIn, you can add more detail and more personality than you can on a regular resume. Every time you share something, or upload a link to something, your profile becomes more inviting and attractive. Find a balance between highlighting professional achievements as well as personal content.

We often work with women who are the only female applicant in the process. What do you think female job seekers could be doing better to stand out in the job application process? Women struggle to properly sell themselves and market their strengths. As if they don't see the value of what they do and don't feel worthy of marketing the heck out of it. That mindset helps create these gaps. There is so much talent that women bring to the table they aren't putting it on their resumes. I always tell people, you’ve done so much and you've created so much, you need to put it on your resume. Women just aren’t always seeing that their value is important. Remember self promotion isn’t an ego thing- just understanding your value. There is nothing wrong with marketing your value. It's what puts you in position to be in demand. Highlight your strengths, own your power, and state your worth. It’s one of the biggest challenges that women face. Just seeing their own worth and value and not being afraid to put it out there. Once you get those two things out of the way- creating a stronger profile will flow naturally.

A big thank you to Pamela Shand for sharing her expertise on this subject with us. Stay tuned for more content and interviews with other experts on how jobseekers can make the most of their LinkedIn!

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