How valuable are you in the employment marketplace?
How can you be sure?
If you are in a commodity role—by which I mean a role that is commonly offered with little or no variation in the requirements—then it’s pretty easy to tell if you are qualified.
Furthermore, even if some job advertisements don’t discuss salary, there will always be some that do. That helps you understand the trend of wages or salaries for your role.
Another great thing about being in a commodity role is that there is plenty of salary survey data available. You can go to salary.com, plug in your job title and your location, and get a nice salary bell curve that is backed by a lot of data points.
But let’s say you’re not in a commodity role. Or you would like to get promoted. Or you would like to make more money. Or you would like to make a career pivot. Are you qualified? How much money can you earn? How can you be sure?
You can look at job advertisements to understand what the requirements are for the next job you want to land. If you clearly meet or exceed the requirements, that’s a pretty good way to tell that you are qualified. And salary surveys and ranges given in job advertisements are a good way to generally understand the prevailing market rates.
Unfortunately, not every career move is so black and white.
And here is where LinkedIn is extremely useful.
Testing Your Marketability
Many employers engage in a practice called evergreen recruiting. They always have job advertisements posted for the handful of roles that they most often need to fill. If a candidate applies who is a great fit, they will make room—whether they have a seat open or not.
I think that candidates should engage in a similar practice. Let’s call it evergreen job hunting. Not an active job hunt per se, but rather a passive strategy to continually test your marketability and desirability in the employment marketplace of today.
Another way to look at this: what happens if you lose your job tomorrow? Are you ready to job hunt? Do you know what kinds of jobs you can land? Do you know what salary you can ask for?
If you do it right, you can use LinkedIn to constantly test your marketability—without jeopardizing your current employment.
Are You Promotion- or Pivot-Ready?
If you are ready to make a career move, be it seeking a promotion or making a pivot into a different role, how can you be certain that you are qualified?
Looking at job advertisements is certainly one way to gage if you have the right training, certifications, degrees, experience, etc.
But here again is an opportunity to leverage LinkedIn to know with certainty how you are viewed in the marketplace. LinkedIn can provide concrete, real time feedback to you in a way that the abstract process of reviewing job ads cannot.
Top Mistakes People Make With Their LinkedIn Profiles
You probably have a LinkedIn profile. Before telling you what to do, let me tell you what not to do. These are the big mistakes that people make on LinkedIn. We’ll do them in count-down order because it’s fun.
MISTAKE #5—SKIMPY WORK HISTORY
Some LinkedIn profiles are very short on details when it comes to work history. Whatever content would normally be in the work history section of a resume should also be on LinkedIn. And because LinkedIn is not a resume, you don’t have to worry about space constraints. So you can, and should, continually add content. And only delete content when it becomes obvious that you are attracting the wrong eyes on your profile. (More about that later.)
MISTAKE #4—OMITTED TRAINING AND CERTIFICATION
Your professional journey probably includes education, training, certificates, seminars, user conferences. LinkedIn gives you a space for these details. They round out who you are professionally.
MISTAKE #3—NO INTRO
The introductory paragraph is often blank. Almost as bad as blank is one or two terse sentences.
You have the opportunity to write about yourself in some detail. Whether that be discussing how you arrived in your current job, what you are excited by, what you are learning about, where you see yourself in one, five and ten years—that into section is a great way to tell people whatever you want them to know about you.
MISTAKE #2—NO PHOTO
Given the profusion of cellphones with excellent cameras, there is no excuse for omitting a photograph on LinkedIn. You have a chance to make an instant impression by having a photograph. Not having a photograph signals that LinkedIn isn’t important to you, that you don’t use it in any meaningful way, and that you just couldn’t be bothered. Get someone to take a headshot. You need to be looking at the camera and smiling. The photograph needs to have no clutter in the background. It needs to have good lighting and be in focus. Your kids, spouse, boa constrictor or tennis racket have no place in this photo. It’s just a professional looking head shot. It doesn’t need to be done by a professional—just needs to look like you use LinkedIn professionally.
MISTAKE #1—YOU ARE NOT ACTIVE ON LINKEDIN
It’s obvious that you don’t use LinkedIn if you don’t have connections. Reach out to current and former colleagues, people you meet on sales calls, at training, even friends who are in unrelated fields.
You can post your own content. But even if you cannot think up anything original to say, that doesn’t mean you have to be silent. You can comment on posts and share posts to show that you are dynamically engaged.
You Actually Want Recruiters Reaching Out to You on LinkedIn
If you are one of those people who hates to hear from recruiters, you’re not going to like what I have to say.
Because if you leverage your LinkedIn profile properly, you are going to make it very inviting for recruiters to reach out to you.
When they reach out, you receive real time feedback regarding how you are presenting yourself and the roles recruiters think you are suited for.
Here is what to do when the outreach comes:
Recruiter: Hi. I am looking for a Java developer for a six-month contract.
You: Hi. Can you send me whatever details you have about the role? Happy to take a look.
Recruiter: Sure. (Sends you the job description.)
You: Thanks. This is a role I would be qualified for. Do you have any information about the target rate of pay?
Recruiter: (Tells you.)
You: Okay, thanks. I don’t think I’m going to pursue this one. This isn’t quite what I would be looking for in my next career move.
You are pumping for data. Whether it’s a contract or a direct-hire, you want to understand all of the parameters so that you can see what type of work at what rate of pay your profile is attracting.
If a role is just ridiculously off, you can either politely say no thank you or you can ask what about your profile made the recruiter think it would be a good match for you. Let’s face it, some recruiters are just not very good. But the feedback you get from a skilled recruiter about why they reached out could be invaluable.
If your profile isn’t attracting any outreach at all, then that in and of itself is a valuable data point. In a crazy hot job market like the one we’re in now, recruiters should be reaching out to you.
Now, Finally, How to Leverage Your LinkedIn Profile
I told you above what not to do. So don’t do any of those things.
Do these things in this order like a checklist. If you have already done something, awesome, move on to the next.
Smiling. Looking at the camera. No clutter in the background. No one else in the photo. Well lit. Focused. Ask yourself, would people want to work with the person they see in the photo?
For each place where you worked, make sure that you are mapped to the company’s LinkedIn page. People who use LinkedIn’s fee-based recruiting tool, LinkedIn Recruiter, can search for people who have worked at a specific company. But only if you have mapped to the company’s LinkedIn page. And, yes, not every company has a LinkedIn page, but most do.
If you have progressed from project to project or from job title to job title, break the employment down into sections.
Then flesh out each project or each job title with a hefty bullet list of what you did and your accomplishments.
If you are technical, be sure to include the technology stack details. It improves how you rank in search results. (More about that later.)
Go back as far as you want. You can always cut off your work history if you feel like it might attract the wrong eyes on your profile. Or if you feel it might age you unnecessarily.
If your resume is current, you’re in luck. You can more or less copy/paste the content from your resume into LinkedIn.
If you took your degree so long ago that you are concerned about age discrimination, leave off the date. But if you are a relatively recent graduate, say, within the past 20 years, you can include the date. From my perspective, even if your degree is off topic, it should be included. There are some people who see completing a degree as a good sign, whether it’s relevant or not.
The training and certifications that you include should be relevant to the kind of work you are currently doing or would like to be doing in the future. If something has expired, prune it off. If something is relevant to an older technology or something you have no interest in doing, prune it off.
Recruiters are going to search on key words like “Computer Science” or “Electrical Engineering” or “PMP” or “Project Management Professional.”
Unlike the intro on your resume, which needs to be something like five or six sentences in length, you can write several paragraphs about yourself on LinkedIn.
If you’re not actively looking, or don’t want your employer to know that you are open to new opportunities, you need to be thoughtful about what you say.
Great introductions tell about a person’s journey. How did they arrive in the role they are in today? What excites them? What do they value in their professional life? When you write about these things, it naturally leads into a statement about what you are learning about or where you see your journey taking you next.
When you include content like this, believe me, recruiters will pore over it. They want to understand whether or not you would be receptive to hearing about new opportunities. And if so, what would those opportunities have to look like? If your introduction includes this kind of information, and a recruiter is trying to fill a seat that seems like a great career move, they will reach out with great excitement.
Connect with people.
Post. Share. Like. Comment.
Follow people, groups and companies that align with your value. Possibly even places where you would love to work next.
Ask people to write recommendations for you. Offer to write recommendations for others.
Tips and Tricks
For people who are using LinkedIn’s search tools, profiles that are more complete (meaning have content in more sections) appear higher in search results.
Whether recruiters are using LinkedIn’s tools or an outside search engine, results are going to follow predictable patterns. Do you match all of the key words in the search? If you do, then you’ll be in the results. How high up you appear in the results will be determined by the number of times the search key words appear in your profile. If you are a Java developer currently, but want to move into artificial intelligence, your LinkedIn profile will probably say Java many times. But “artificial intelligence” or “AI” may only appear once—when you mention it as your new passion. So you need to find ways to get “artificial intelligence” to appear more often in your profile. That can be by mentioning it multiple times in your intro. It can be by following Artificial Intelligence groups and people. It can be by including in your introduction a paragraph, usually at the end, that starts with “Key Words.” It’s a blatant attempt at SEO.
If the outreach that you get has nothing to do with a career move you would seriously consider, then you need to tweak. Reduce the instances of words that are attracting the wrong opportunities. Increase the key words that discuss the direction you want to go in. Add more details into your work history to show how you are qualified for the career move.
If you still don’t get the outreach you want, you have to find out if you’re simply not qualified. Go to a good job board and find some jobs that you actually would be interested in. Look at the requirements. If you don’t meet them, what do you need to do? Get some training? Get a certification? Possibly even take on some duties in your current job? If you want to move into DevOps, your current software team may welcome you implementing the CI/CD pipeline. Then it can go on your resume and profile.
If you think about your LinkedIn profile like a dating profile—but an honest one—then you can consider what it would take to get a recruiter or hiring manager to swipe right on it. That swipe right results in outreach. Not all outreach will be what you are looking for. But when your LinkedIn profile is doing what it’s supposed to do, some of the outreach will be great.
When a recruiter does reach out, pump for data. Learn what recruiters think you’re qualified for. Learn what recruiters see in your profile that prompts them to reach out. Use that data to revise your profile or to make yourself well qualified for a role you would actually want.
If you lose your job, assuming you’ve been leveraging your LinkedIn for a while, all you will need to do is add an opentowork on your photo, tell your network you are looking and ask them to share.
And, who knows, an amazing opportunity may find you!
Interested in what employers are doing to leverage their LinkedIn to find candidates? Read our last Informatizer.
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