Leverage Your “LinkedIn Brand” to Stand Out During a Job Search

For recruiters, LinkedIn is a database that includes over six million professionals and is full of potential to find qualified candidates looking for their next career move. For job seekers, it is your first impression to potential hiring managers and an opportunity to showcase your unique skill set. Think of LinkedIn as the rolodex of the 21st century. LinkedIn is an easy way to reconnect with colleagues and classmates, and make new connections through social networking, breaking down geographic boundaries. And, because it’s virtual, it facilitates introductions even when people are practicing social distancing due to COVID-19.

For job seekers the key to an optimized LinkedIn profile is to highlight your unique skill set as well as your unique selling position. In other words, how you convey that you are the person to hire when your skills, experience, certifications, and education are just like one million other people on LinkedIn. This is your LinkedIn Brand.

Six Steps to Optimize Your LinkedIn Brand

You can increase your brand recognition with a few simple steps. Remember, as a job seeker you are on LinkedIn to be found and hired. Make that first impression count.

Step 1: Customize Your LinkedIn URL

You can customize your LinkedIn URL in under a minute.  When looking at your profile page, simply click on Edit public profile & URL at the top right of the page and remove all the numbers and letters after your name. It is important to note that if you have a common name you may need to include your middle initial or more of your brand such as sales, PhD, MBA, Marketing (Jane-Doe-Sales).

Step 2: Professional Looking Profile Photo

Remember that this profile photo will be your first impression to a recruiter and/or potential hiring manager. The picture should be current -ideally no more than two or three years old. You want to look confident, friendly, and approachable, indicating that you work well with a team or as part of a larger organization. Avoid using a picture of you that is clearly part of a group shot. You don’t need to have a professional headshot taken if you follow these guidelines.

Taking a headshot photo with a digital camera or phone

  • Neutral background, head/shoulders, facing forward
  • No busy printed clothes, avoid white
  • Ambient light or front light; no backlight
  • Avoid reflective surfaces (windows, mirrors)
  • Center the person in the frame

Step 3: Branded Banner

A way to differentiate yourself is to add a background banner that will add to your brand. For instance, if you are in cyber security you might want to have a digital lock as your background, if you are a project manager you might have a Gantt chart, or if you are in HR you might have different color umbrellas. Remember your background banner has to be your own work or legally you need to be able to post it without copywrite infringements. Canva is a good free resource to make a custom LinkedIn banner.

Step 4: Your LinkedIn Headline

Your default Headline in LinkedIn is your title at your most recent company. However, that only lets recruiters know what you did at your last job and it is probably not an industry standard title. You have 220 characters including spaces to promote your person LinkedIn Brand using industry standard titles. For your headline you can use multiple standard titles or create a slogan with an industry standard title. 220 characters provides a lot of room for customization, for example:

  • Multi-title headline: Software Engineer , Frontend Engineer & Developer , Angular Developer (70 characters including spaces)
  • Slogan with title: Vice President Sales Management & Business Development , Deliver IT Solutions to Change and Improve Lives (106 characters including spaces)

Step 5: Your LinkedIn About Description

Similar to a summary statement on your resume, the About section gives you the opportunity to highlight key experiences and provide recruiters with a snapshot of what you makes you the optimal candidate for the position. Include industry standard specific titles which are the titles of the jobs you are applying for (for example Team Lead for LinkedIn should be Software Team Lead, Frontend Developer, and Java). You can also include industry experience, skills (oft, Core and Technical) and your email address allowing recruiters to reach out to you easily and without using one of their limited number of in-mails.

Step 6: Titles and Professional Experience

On LinkedIn, you need to include the title you held at your company as well as industry specific titles. For instance, you are part of the HR group and your title is Chief People Officer. You will want to include: CHRO , VP Human Resources , Chief People Officer. Your experience description will not look exactly like your resume. Your LinkedIn Professional Experience section should be written in first person, highlighting two or three selected accomplishments from your resume, and key skills.

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