LinkedIn: The Employer’s Perspective
In an earlier article, we talked about how to approach your résumé from the employer’s perspective. You always want to consider what challenges they have, who their competition is, and what they need from their employees to improve their bottom line. Then, your résumé needs to address those head on. LinkedIn is a vital component of the modern job search and it needs to be approached in the same manner — from the employer’s perspective.
It’s important to first understand that a LinkedIn profile is different in some ways than your résumé. Unlike your résumé, social media profiles are visible 24/7. Anyone can view it at any time. This makes it more difficult to target specific positions with a LinkedIn profile. Your résumé is kept private until the moment you choose to send it and therefore can be customized prior to someone reading it. The implications of this are significant. This means that your LinkedIn profile must be aligned with the majority of the positions that you are applying for. If you are changing careers, or applying to a variety of jobs, this can be tricky.
Here’s a breakdown of the four sections of your profile that employers are most interested in and why. If you change nothing else, change these sections!
- Your photo. You need to have a photo — and professional headshots are best. A quality photo instantly enhances your profile and makes you more approachable. Worried about age discrimination from having a photo? Don’t be. The employer will eventually know your age when they interview you, so save yourself the trouble and be authentic. Be proud of your experience!
- Your headline. When you show up in a recruiter’s search results, your headline is the first thing that they see, besides your photo. Your headline must be descriptive and aligned with the position that you want to be hired for. Don’t just default to your current job title — unless that is the same thing that you want to do in your next position. Be strategic in this section! Your headline must be compelling and relevant enough to make them want to click on your profile. Your headline also carries the most weight when it comes to search rankings. Therefore, make sure you put relevant keywords in there.
- Your summary. Not having a summary is a missed opportunity. Employers do read these and they want to see how you describe yourself and what your top strengths are. Keep it brief and feel free to do a short, bulleted list of your top skills or areas of expertise. Paragraphs longer than about three sentences won’t get read. Additionally, having a summary will also improve the search ranking of your profile.
- Your current employer. In general, employers are most interested in what you are doing right now. That doesn’t mean that you can’t find ways to highlight past experiences but they will view your current position much more closely than older ones. Also, if you are presently unemployed then you need to know that not having a "current" position on your profile will significantly reduce your ranking in search results. You’ll need to work on expanding your connections and soliciting recommendations and endorsements to help build up your profile.
Most job seekers treat their LinkedIn profile (if they have one) as simply an online version of their résumé. They copy and paste everything from their résumé and transfer it right to their profile. Or, they simply list their positions with no information to describe them. Neither of those are the best approach. The goal of your LinkedIn profile is to give the reader just enough information to want to contact you and learn more.