Once upon a time, I did a lot of public speaking. I was a “road warrior,” going out to speak to all sorts of groups about careers and professional development. I was at a national conference speaking on the topic of your reputation on social media – this was in the early days of MySpace, etc. The crowd was 18-28, and they were shocked as I showed a few slides (with permission) of posts and images I was able to find of their peers. Nothing horrifying, but you could hear gasps in the audience – “how did she find that?” Most of us know all that by now and we’re careful. But did you know that recruiters and hiring managers always check one specific social media site for any candidate they are thinking about interviewing?
Of course, I’m talking about LinkedIn,
where what you don’t post
is just as important as what you do.
And, most of you, the vast majority of you aren’t posting anything. You aren’t “Liking.” You aren’t following. I know this because I’m seeing it as I check on new clients and alumni I’m working with at the University of Delaware. Sadly, your presence, or lack thereof, on LinkedIn will make recruiters wonder – do you care about your brand or reputation? It turns out that not being engaged on LinkedIn is the same kind of professional sabotage that posting images with questionable behavior was in the early 2000s. It sends the same message: You’re not aware or you don’t care. Neither of which are good for your career. Now, I know you do care. So here are some things you can do right now to enhance your professional brand on LinkedIn:
- Get your number of connections up to 500. It’s LinkedIn’s “magic” number for putting your profile into recruiter searches. It also tells recruiters that when they hire you, they are getting someone who understands the value of a professional network. Add your friends, family, former colleagues, current colleagues, people from your community. Add people who are at companies you are interested in. It’s not “weird.” It’s normal.
- Use a banner image instead of LinkedIn’s automatic color wave. Google “free LinkedIn banner images,” and choose something you like.
- Change your headline to what you do, or offer, not your job title.
- Use your About section to speak in your own voice about what you do, why you do it, and why it matters.
- Start following people who are experts in fields and industries that interest you.
- Go on Linkedin regularly – 3-5 times a week. Just for 10-15 minutes. Read your feed and start “Liking” things you like. People want to be supported. They are putting themselves out there. Support them.
- If you appreciate what you’ve read, put a “thank you” in the comments. Even better, be specific – “Thank you for the suggestion about X!”
- If you have a question about something you’ve read, ask! You’ll get answers!
- If you have something you want to say, create a post about it.
All of the above tells recruiters you are engaged and you are staying up to date in your field. It shows you care. Cheers to your career!