The Current Situation

I imagine by now you have been utilizing LinkedIn to apply to positions left and right. You probably take a deep breath and hit the submit button, hoping that this time your resume lands in front of the right person.
Every day is an attempt to find your next opportunity, a new role, a new job, sometimes any job just to say you’re employed again. It’s a straightforward, repetitive process which generally produces little to no results for you. Once you’ve exhausted LinkedIn, you shift your search on Google Jobs or Indeed. Apply, rinse, repeat, with no results.

Sounds painfully familiar?…This article is for you.

Whenever I ask new clients how they are using LinkedIn in their job search, they always say the same thing: “I use it to apply to jobs, but that’s pretty much it.” Why would it be anything else at the end of the day? That is how 95% of professionals use this platform.

If you’re only using Linkedin when you need it, then you’re really going to need it to need you back.

At the current moment the market is flooded with applicants and activity due to massive tech layoffs.
Let’s look at some numbers:

This is a screenshot from level.fyi which is a crowdsourced mastersheet of layoffs happening in the tech industry. As you can see, there’s a ton of people without job security right now.

Before you start to freak out and think you’ll never get a job, take a look at some other numbers:

  • LinkedIn has over 900 million users spanning across 200 countries
  • 98% of Fortune 500 companies have a presence on LinkedIn
  • There are over 9 billion impressions on the platform weekly.
  • Only 5% of users create and promote organic content on LinkedIn.

This means that the organic reach on LinkedIn is still very powerful when compared to saturated platforms like Facebook or Instagram.

What job seekers often ignore is the fact that LinkedIn is a social network, not just a job board, and because of that there is an opportunity that needs to be considered!

Most professionals created their LinkedIn profile when they were in college or once they graduated. Someone told them that they should have one, so they made one but never took the time to begin building after creating. When you hear the term “social network” you immediately think of Instagram or Facebook, and now TikTok. The only problem there is that neither one of those platforms will really help your professional career, but LinkedIn will. If you know how to use it correctly.

When done effectively, your profile will lead to increased exposure, which in return will allow for more potential job opportunities, higher levels of credibility, exponential network growth, and quality connections.If you skip this step, you will create a bottleneck in your application efforts and not see results for potentially a very long time, missing out on growth, recognition, money, and achievement.

There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions of hiring managers, recruiters, and potential business relationships that you can tap into once you properly invest and build your LinkedIn Profile. Just like we tell our clients here at Alza the worst part of being a job seeker isn’t the lack of work, it’s the lack of a network.

Most professionals who do have a profile on LinkedIn focus primarily on their Experience Section above all else, which makes sense since it is a professional network and therefore one’s experience is the only thing that matters right? This is a mistake. Think of your own experience as a user when you visit a landing page or website. Everything is set up for easy navigation, with a clear theme, messaging, and product offerings. Your LinkedIn profile is essentially a website, and you are the product that you need to sell.

So how do we use that to our advantage?

Two words.

Profile Optimization

Here’s what we focus on with the profile:

  1. LinkedIn Banner
  2. Profile Photo
  3. Headline section
  4. About/Bio section
  5. Experience

 

Banner – The first component will focus on, is the LinkedIn Banner or Cover Photo as it is commonly referred to. This is the first step in making sure you create an eye catching and quality profile.

What makes you pay attention faster?

This?

Or this?

This is by the far the most underutilized piece of LinkedIn real estate for users.

PRO TIP: When adding text to your banner, be mindful of positioning as your profile photo will cover it if it’s not placed away from the left side. Additionally, remember that many LinkedIn users access the platform through their mobile devices and that makes text positioning even more crucial. Last thing you want is your tagline, call to action, message to be unreadable and blocked off.

Make sure you capture your visitors’ attention right away with the right image and messaging.

Profile photo – Your profile photo is an extremely important component of your presence on LinkedIn. Outside of the banner, it is the first visual representation of you. It is what people attach your name to naturally, just like all other social media. To increase your response and referral rates, invest in your profile picture. It’s your first chance to communicate that you are friendly, likable, and trustworthy — attributes that are crucial to getting prospects to engage with you. Think of it as your first step to building your personal brand on LinkedIn and making yourself stand out to recruiters. Now that’s worth investing in.

Credit to CodeRevolution

You’ve seen thousands of social media profile pictures. You see dozens every day. And every time you see someone’s profile picture, you form an impression of that person. In a split second, you decide if they are likable, trustworthy, smart …or not. You judge them. Everyone judges your profile picture in the same way. On Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and everywhere else, they are swiping right or left in their mind, connecting, or dismissing, engaging with your content or ignoring your connection request.

Here’s another great example of a profile photo from one of Alza’s very own coaches and advisors, Karl Persson who’s currently the Senior Director of Product Management at Incode!

Here’s a quick checklist to refer to over time and make sure your LinkedIn profile is market ready!

1. This is your profile, not anyone else’s.

It might sound obvious, but your photo should give any visitor a clear idea of what you’d look like if they met you tomorrow. You want to keep your photo as current as possible. It can be jarring if you jump on a video call, and someone looks completely different from their photo. Make sure your LinkedIn profile picture is up to date and reflects how you look daily (professionally). If you’re at a startup, and it’s more of a relaxed vibe and you usually wear a t-shirt at work then wear a t-shirt in your photo. If you usually wear a button down, wear a button down. Whatever is an authentic representation of you, make sure it’s displayed here.

2. No group photos

This is an important one – Be the only person in the photo. A recruiter or hiring manager, future colleague or connection wants to identify and connect with you, not 5 of your closest friends. This isn’t Facebook. Cropping a group photo isn’t the best solution, since you might see a random hand or shoulder popping into the frame.

3. 60% is the magic number

When it comes to the dimensions of your photo and quality you want to make sure your face takes up at least 60% of the frame. Crop the picture from the top of your shoulders to just above your head so that your face fills the frame.

4. Have someone take your photo

This is a headshot, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you need the photo taken by a photographer who does headshots, that can be expensive. Instead set up a tripod or ask a friend to take it for you. While it’s fine to use a photo taken with a cellphone, it’s probably best to steer clear of a selfie. Ask a friend or coworker to take it for you — it only takes a minute, and it can make a massive difference.

The front (selfie) camera on most phones produces a lower-quality image than the rear camera. Depending on your phone settings, it may also produce a mirror image, which can cause any words or logos to appear backwards. Plus, by getting someone else to take the picture for you, you’ll probably find that your pose is more natural and comfortable.

5. No distracting backgrounds

Where you take your picture matters. You don’t want anything to distract from your face, so a simple background can help ensure that you’re the focal point. That’s not to say you must be standing in a white, empty space. Taking the picture outside in nature or against a painted wall can keep things simple without being boring. Another thing to note is that solid colors tend to do best on camera. You can use Canva or Remove. bg to eliminate your background and add a solid color to help your profile photo pop.

6. Smile!

Throw a comfortable smile in there and allow people to see a warm and inviting presence when they come to your profile. A study that went through 800 profile photos found that people will automatically find you more likable and trustworthy if you smile.

P.S A profile with no photo turns people off immediately and it’s perceived as if you don’t exist, so don’t ever do that.

Headline – This is the first SEO text in the profile. It’s super important to be intentional about what you’re including in your headline. The usual formula is Job Title, @ Company. This is not enough to stand out in a sea of competition. Instead, think about what other keywords you can focus on. You can add a sentence that encompasses your achievements in a concise message. (Example below)

What we worked on with Phill is strategic SEO-friendly keyword placement in his headline. All the terms he wanted to be found for, we put into a statement in his headline which not only increased his visibility but also provided any visitor with a powerful and clear sense of what he could bring to the table.

Phillip’s old headline is a great example of someone taking full advantage of strongly and clearly communicating what he can bring into an organization. Fun fact: Phill was an early client when we started Alza and became one of the fastest success stories with two offers in 3.5 weeks!

Mind blown? Yes, us too when it happened. The best news is, that now he’s joined Alza as an SME and coach focusing on helping Strategy and Ops professionals get to the next level of their career.

Another thing to think about when it comes to the headline is that many jobseekers will put “seeking new opportunities” in their headline. All that you’re essentially doing is telling the world that you are operating from a position of need. Now while that seems like a good thing to tell people you’re looking for work openly, it actually has an inverse effect in the short term.

Here’s what I mean, when COVID-19 hit, anyone that lost their role put up “seeking new opportunity”, and while Linkedin came out with the green profile that showed everyone publicly that you needed work, what most didn’t consider was perception. You might be the best and most accomplished candidate for any job, but if I am a recruiter and all I see is a green #opentowork banner and a headline that says you’re open to new opportunities – I will not choose you. Why? Because as a recruiter I am spending all day perusing LinkedIn and now I see a million green banners on my feed and searches. I no longer see the professional, I see the unemployed or underemployed profile, and I am subconsciously placing you in the same bucket as everyone else.

So how do we fix this? Well, your headline isn’t just about perception. One of the great things about your headline is that it is SEO friendly. Meaning LinkedIn searching is very much like Google, as it picks up on certain keywords as it is looking in its database. Make sure you put those keywords in, they’re the keys to the kingdom.

Let’s keep going!

About – Most Linkeidn profiles either have nothing here or they have some robotic language like “experienced product leader with 8 years of demonstrated experience working across dynamic teams..” if you fell asleep reading that, think about how we felt when we wrote it!

BORING, right?

The right way to use the “About” section is to construct an elevator pitch/narrative that is broken into an 80% professional and 20% personal summary. Nobody likes a robot, and no one will connect to a third person impersonal paragraph. This is the time to really capture someone’s attention. How? Well our advisors are rockstars at this and how to specifically build it out depending on your target role.

Most LinkedIn profiles were created over the last decade and with that, most had an option to either include a summary or have LinkedIn create one for you. The issue is majority of the profiles either have a blank nonexistent “About” section which does not help you at all… or they have something that reads like this:

“Experienced Project Manager many years of experience working in the medical industry and a proven knowledge of case management, customer service, and data collection and analysis. Specialized in project management and documentation through Microsoft Excel and online medical record systems. Aiming to leverage my skills and be a dynamic team player to help facilitate the workflow of a professional space.”

If you’re thinking, what did I just read? You’re not alone. It’s a lot of buzzwords and “resume speak”. Most professionals will think this is an appropriate “About” section, and they will copy and paste this onto their resume summary section as well.

Here’s an example of how to do it well. These are screenshots of the About section from two of the biggest LinkedIn creators who are setting the standard of LI profiles!

1. Justin Welsh

2. Matt Gray

If you notice a pattern there, then you’re paying attention.
If you write a long paragraph, no one is going to read it. This is the same as it comes to creating content on the platform.

Over 57% of LinkedIn users are on mobile, meaning that the text will be already compacted within the space of your phone screen and if you add long text, again no one is going to read it fully.
Additionally, as this is an elevator pitch, we want to show off and use the same formula as you would with your resume and even interview. State your achievements and add numerical value to provide richer data. At the end, you do not want to skip this step..add a CTA (call to action).

If you’re thinking, well I am not an entrepreneur like Justin or Matt, how can I structure this as a career changer, or job seeker?

Here you go!

Be sure to tell your network, recruiters and hiring managers who land on your profile how to get in touch with you. Drop your contact info on the last line, and make it easy for folks to connect with you with a Calendly link.

Experience – When it comes to experience, no two profiles are identical. When thinking of how to structure one’s experience on LinkedIn as a job seeker, most will take their resume and bullet points and copy and paste it on there. Some will also put their resume up as a document for recruiters to view.This is not the correct strategy at all, and here’s why. No bear with me here because it’s going to sound counterintuitive, but you do not want to operate from a position where you can be perceived as someone in need, so do not upload your resume on LinkedIn, and do not copy and paste your bullet points for each position. It’s not your job to help out a random recruiter, it’s your job to make yourself seem like a top choice for the role, without giving away everything at once. It’s like approaching someone you’re interested in for the first time, and telling them your life story all at once. You’re going to scare them away. So what do you do instead?

Write 1-2 sentences that share what you were involved with in a specific role and a few metrics to showcase your achievements.

Conclusion

Having an optimized Linkedin profile can at times be a make or break moment for a potential candidate. We need to make sure that we curate and treat it like the best representation of ourselves so we can be seen the way we want to be seen. Now whether you’re just getting started in your tech career, or looking to jump into a better role, a platform like Alza, makes it easy for anyone, anywhere in the world to build a targeted network, access hundreds of micro-learning modules across job search best practices, connect to expert advisors and coaches, upskill and get to the next level of their career. If you haven’t joined yet, what are you waiting for? 🚀

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