Forget Facebook, and Twitter too, when it comes to careers the most important social network open to UK candidates right now has to be LinkedIn. This month saw the platform hit 15million British members, and in a global business age the 262million other users worldwide can also come in handy.
In this country alone, according to figures published in The Independent, on Monday, 375,000 engineers, 49,000 solicitors, 12,500 journalists, 146 chimney sweeps, 59 bodybuilders, five “mermaids???, 4,000 farmers, 2,500 detectives and 744 magicians are now registered. Combine those professionals (and aquatic lifeforms) with most of the planet’s major corporations and the recruitment potential- both domestically and for positions overseas- becomes clear.
But with so much competition, how do you ensure people looking at your details keep them in mind the next time they are sending out invites for interviews? We wracked our brains and compared collective notes to come up with this hit list of eight essential attributes every LinkedIn profile needs, so our best advice is to take heed and ensure yours isn’t missing any.
It sounds obvious, but we’re amazed at how many people don’t bother to include basic work contact details- for example an email address. We wouldn’t recommend using the Hotmail account you opened at 17 with a stupid name, but giving people another means of getting in touch, other than a direct message via LinkedIn, is a very good idea.
Succinct and easy-to-digest summary biography
Arguably the most important thing on our list, we’ve seen countless mini-essays detailing the achievements of account holders, but given the tiny amount of time eyes spend on any web page this simply isn’t good enough. Consider hiring a freelance copywriter to hone your experience and wisdom down to a brief but informative overview if lacking the confidence to create one yourself.
Comprehensive employment history
LinkedIn is basically a digital CV that allows people to interact, share information and form new relationships. You should treat it as such. Although that after-school fast food job might not seem important anymore, it’s vital to include any and all previous and current positions that could be relevant, and with a little artistic license you’ll be surprised at just how relevant some of those roles can be.
Examples of previous work
Nothing screams ‘hire me’ louder than a great portfolio, but don’t wait around for people to get in touch and then ask if they want to see samples. Instead, pre-load PDFs, screen grabs and documents to your profile so the moment would-be employers click to view they already have a comprehensive insight into exactly what you’re capable of.
Recommendations from clients
A more valuable calling card than the also-important endorsements (see below), any first-degree LinkedIn contact can write a bespoke recommendation for use on your profile page, detailing how great your work was and how much they believe in your talents. Think of it like a visitor’s book, for your professional life.
Endorsements take less time than a ‘hand’-written recommendation, and can technically come from people you have never worked with. They simply choose which skills of yours to endorse and quickly press a button. Nevertheless, profiles boasting a high level of endorsements will be seen in a more favourable light and may show up more regularly in network search results.
If you want to be seen as a professional then it’s important to join some professional groups. Not only will you be privy to the latest industry news as reported by insiders, along with new recruitment drives taking place, anyone visiting your page will see you take a serious interest in work, potentially boosting your employability.
Regular status updates
A LinkedIn profile should not be static, but nor should it simply be connected to your Twitter account so tweets appear as status updates. Not only is that lazy, the two networks use different formats, meaning posts to one can look out of place on the other. Don’t ignore your LinkedIn status; use it to share useful, work and business-focused information, and position yourself as a clued-up expert.