one are the days where you used to be able to walk into an office, put your resume down with a meaty smack on the table and go, “I’d like to speak to the manager about a job.” On that resume was no college experience, barely a high school diploma, and probably about ten spelling errors but they must have worked because your boss makes six figures but can’t figure out how to save a Word Doc as a PDF.
For the rest of us, there is Linkedin. Started in 2003, it has become one of the many redundant ways you are forced to prove that you are a human being with work experience and not a robot that has somehow accrued student debt. There is, as with all things, a correct way to craft one so that people will pay attention to it and perhaps offer you a job.
A brief survey of the myriad of recommendations out there for potential job seekers can be expressed in a few brief principles and a warning or two, as all good advice ought to come with.
The LinkedIn Basics
The Best Place to Start Building Your LinkedIn Page is... at the Beginning
Perhaps the best way to be successful is to already be successful, and keep succeeding. If this is the case, your job is simple. List all of your successes. All of them.
- Leadership Positions
- Past Jobs
- Projects that Went Well
- Fun Nicknames and Anecdotes
There is no need for restraint. Recruiters are using robots and third party companies to fish for possible employees, so you must beat them at their own game. Coat your page with any given keywords you can find that apply to your field so that any programs looking for them find the maximum amount.
If you are not successful, and need to begin succeeding, your job looks immensely like the above. Even if they are not “successes” per say, list what you are doing, what you have done, and what you are interested in. Remember. The goal is not to carefully and accurately portray a succinct image of yourself, that’s what a resume is for. Your Linkedin is for attracting enough attention so that someone bothers to ask for your resume in the first place.
To that end as well, any recommendations about “having a good headshot” or “professional pictures” are not wrong, though they usually list it for the wrong reason. What you need is a headshot that doesn’t look faked, pixelated, or taken off of someone else’s profile. Something genuine, personal, and flattering.
This is not to show personality, professionalism, etc. It is to show, once again, that you are a real human being. Once a bot or recruiter drags up your profile from a scrape of the site, someone can look at it and be sure that they are looking at an account with a human vaguely shaped like you sitting behind it.
So You No Longer Look Like A Robot, What Now
How to Make Your LinkedIn Profile Stand Out from the Crowd
Making your Linkedin “stand out” is relatively easy for one essential reason. Most of its users are NOT actively using it. They make a Linkedin page, keep it moderately updated, and become confused and frantic when they need to find a new job and one has not magically come rolling in through their Linkedin.
To that end. The best thing you can do to make your profile stand out is to BE ACTIVE. Post the following.
- Personal projects and interests
- Anecdotes from past jobs
- Humor (Carefully!)
- Comments on other posts
- Engagement with the companies that you’re interested in
- Support for others in current jobs
Of course, as with all public spaces, be sure to keep such posts measuredly appropriate, avoiding provocation to specific parties or rehashing incidents that went poorly. On the whole, “negativity” is to be avoided like the plague. Live, Laugh, and Love it up, bad vibes only addressed in constructive terms.
The most important thing after that is simply to wait. Given the average human’s surprisingly robust professional, familial, and social circles even in these seemingly isolating times, something is bound to come in and you must not miss it. Check your DMs, keep your email on refresh, and reply courteously and quickly to anything that doesn’t ask for your SSN.
This Is Not For You, After All
An Important Reminder
Perhaps one of the most relevant things that can be said at this point is that your Linkedin page is not for you. In handy-dandy list format, here’s who your Linkedin page is for.
- Not You
- Friends and Family
- Still Not You
- Potential Interviewers
- Definitely Not You
- Hiring Departments of Companies Large and Small
To be clear. A Linkedin page is a targeted advertisement OF you. It is FOR other people to look at and think, “Wow, this person would be an excellent fit for my company/nonprofit/government position.” To that end, while you want it to reflect something of yourself, it should be of those eminently hireable, interesting but not risky parts of yourself. If it doesn’t have to do with getting you hired somewhere, it should not be on your Linkedin page.
In addition, it is important to think about exactly who you want to be looking at your Linkedin page. Are you looking for highly skilled and technical work? Make sure your page reflects all of the highly skilled and technical work you’ve done. Everything else, in that case, is functionally dead weight that is cluttering up your page.
Of course, in the case of more general job-hunting, it is still important to think about who your audience is. What traits do you have, not that you like about yourself, but that others like about you? Ask around and highlight those. You may think you have a great work ethic and fast pace, but if your coworker is always talking about how you’re methodical and precise, it’s perhaps those qualities that you should choose to highlight.
The most important thing to understand from all of this is that the person you see in the mirror and the person that other people see everyday are two wholly different human beings. What’s worse, when you’re looking for a job, these differences in perception are going to be endlessly scrutinized, inspected, and considered.
On top of that, every misstep in that process on Linkedin is then seen, recorded, and shared. It is not an easy thing to come to terms with or navigate. But it is an absolutely essential understanding to have in order to market yourself in a competitive career environment.
What Not To Do With Your Shiny New LinkedIn Profile
First things first, realize how visible you are. Any sort of controversy is going to be immediately viewable, present, and problematic. Positivity and professionalism are the subjects of weeks long courses, so you won’t find guidance how-to here. Understanding that if you mess up that it will be seen and amplified should be enough.
Then, and perhaps most relevantly, don’t bother to pay for Linkedin premium tools. Don’t pay for anything, if you can help it. There is very little out there worth paying for that will improve your profile any more than fractionally. Paying for a service to make you look better or help you see more is almost always going to be more expensive and less effective than actually making yourself look better and doing the legwork.
Instead, pass your resume around to your family and friends and ask them what they think. They may have differing input, of course, but you can pick and choose what you like from them and most importantly, they now have your resume in one form or another. If they hear of a position, they now know you are looking for a job and know what you can do. This is IMMENSELY important and is how people get far more jobs than anything to do with Linkedin at all.
Making your Linkedin stand out from the crowd primarily involves what people are least willing to put into it; effort. Some people may sneer and snicker at “tryhards”, but the crucial difference between a sneerer and a tryhard of identical talents and experience is that a given company WILL hire the tryhard EVERY SINGLE TIME. In fact, they are more likely to FIND the tryhard in the first place than a sneerer at all. You can have pride in spades, but if you want to find a job through Linkedin, you’re going to have to act like it.