Career AdviceA LinkedIn Expert on How to Maximize Your Profile Saloni Mehta interviewed by Rena Nigam 

LinkedIn can be a tricky social media to navigate. Self-promotion is hard for everyone, but especially for women. However, if you’re looking for a job in 2020, your LinkedIn profile is invaluable and one of the most important tools you have at your disposal. We’ve been speaking to experts in this space to learn more about how job seekers can make the most of their LinkedIn profiles. Last week, we spoke to Pamela Shand. This week, Team Meytier got a chance to sit down with Saloni Mehta, Consultant and Coach to learn about how she helps her clients utilize their LinkedIn to build their professional brand and achieve their goals. We’re sure you’ll find it just as insightful as we did.

What value do you think a strong Linkedin profile can bring to job seekers?

LinkedIn is your passport to the professional world. Earlier you had coffees, dinners, but now LinkedIn is a place to network and be seen. Linkedin has become ubiquitous. Before I meet someone, I will check out someone’s LinkedIn profile to get a snapshot of who they are. It’s become an important first impression. It’s like an elevator pitch. From your profile to your banner to your headline. It’s where you can create such a strong impression of who you are. I always say that the perfect blend is when you fit out enough and fit in enough. Meaning, on one hand you need to remember that LinkedIn is an SEO tool and a place to be found, it’s a version of your resume. So you want to include all the right keywords and skills so you can be found organically. But you also want to include content that tells a story about who you are and shows your personality.

What are your top LinkedIn musts for job seekers?

My first must is a complete profile. Like I said before, it should be a blend of a resume and your personality. Utilize every feature, so include a profile picture, a banner image, a headline. Secondly, if you’re actively looking for a job, purchase premium and set up your job alerts. Just having premium will increase your ranking in the organic searches. Second, set up your job alerts. My last must is to start writing. Start thinking about issues and topics that are important to you and start putting that content onto your LinkedIn. It will help draw traffic to your profile and help others get an idea of who you are.

What makes a good headline? Thoughts on explicitly stating that you’re looking for a job? Necessary or not?

I don’t think it’s necessary to include that you’re looking for a job in your headline. There is an option to signal that you're looking for work. Only recruiters will be able to see it. That said, it depends on how senior you are. If you’re very senior, signal to recruiters that you’re looking privately. If you’re younger, it’s fine to include it but I do think that real estate can be used better.

A headline grabs me when I see something beyond just someone’s designation. What makes you, you? How are you different from anyone else? What do you bring to the table? What are you passionate about? The headlines that I remember the most have a strong personality.

What kind of engagement /activity should job seekers be looking to cultivate? Should they be interacting with others in their field, companies, news?

Start connecting with people in your field. Find the cross sections of your industries and your interest. Add people who aren’t just in your function but in the industry you're passionate about. Have a network of juniors, peers, and seniors. They’re all instrumental in helping get you hired. Especially peers! They likely get asked “do you know somebody?” all the time. So get visible. Another important activity is to sign up for speaking engagements. They don’t need to be big! They’re all valuable. The minute you're at speaking engagements, you become visible and people attribute credibility to you. This is one piece that women can shy away from. Being public and being visible but it could be a gamechanger in getting hired.

What should people be including on their LinkedIn profile?

As much as they can. Include courses you’ve taken and if you volunteer somewhere, things you do outside of work. That said, far too often people don't even include things they did at work. If you were part of a project, a campaign, etc. include it. Use hyperboles, use numbers wherever possible, and talk about the additional things you're doing beyond your role. Women take on a lot and don't always talk about the additional responsibilities they do at work. Highlight your softer skills as well, empathy, communication, and more. And if you’ve taken career breaks- acknowledge them! They aren’t bad, you likely gained valuable skills during them. If you don't address it, it's an elephant in the room but if you address it, it's the magnificent beast from India.

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?

My biggest tip is to start writing. Here’s why- I can guarantee that in the last 20 days you've read at least two pieces that impacted you. They might not have included anything you didn’t already know, but they impacted you. And you could have written it. Writing can help your focus, especially if you’re looking for a job. Also, comment on other people’s writing. Ally with other women. There is nothing more powerful than sisterhood. Be more vocal on your own platform. State your skills and what makes you unique. Reduce your discounting words, the “helped” and “joined” and the like in your resume.

In light of COVID. What kind of a role do you think Linked in is starting to play not just job search but building your brand?

It's becoming a must have. Earlier it was a good to have. So many people now are coming to me realising their older ways of networking have vanished. They need to build a brand. In that sense, LinkedIn is democratising professional networking the way youtube democratized content creation. Anyone at any level can get visibility and build their brand without waiting for a ten year career mark or any other point in time.

Thank you to Saloni Mehta for taking time to speak with us. Stay tuned for more interviews with experts on LinkedIn, Job Search, and more!

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