One thing I stress with my job-seeking clients above all else is the importance of networking. While face-to-face contact is certainly ideal, there is no better tool out there to supercharge your networking strategy than LinkedIn.com. LinkedIn is by far the most effective way to connect (and reconnect) with your existing contacts, organically grow your professional network, and get found by potential employers. These days, a well-optimised LinkedIn profile is a must-have for any job seeker, so, don’t be left behind. If you already have a LinkedIn account, here are five tips I often share with my clients for leveraging LinkedIn for their sustainability job search.
Tip 1: You only get one chance to make a good impression.
Simply creating a profile is not enough to make you stand out to potential employers. You have to grab their attention with a compelling (and relevant) ‘story’ about who you are and what you do. Jobseekers must first articulate a clear career strategy because with LinkedIn you can’t customise your profile to fit a plethora of job types – it’s one-size fits all. So ‘aim your compass’ first and decide exactly what you are selling and to whom.
Tip 2: Keep it short and simple.
LinkedIn is not just a digital version of your paper CV. Our attention spans are much shorter online, so make your profile easily digestible by using keywords that impress and avoiding long paragraphs and jargon. Also, more and more recruiters are using LinkedIn to find potential candidates, so optimise your profile for search by using the ‘skills and expertise’ section to add five to ten keywords that capture who you are and what you are qualified to do.
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Tip 3: Think like an advertiser and promote yourself.
Think of your LinkedIn profile as an advertisement telling all of your potential employers how much they need you. Don’t be shy about your achievements – tell the world how amazing you are with compelling text backed up with proven accomplishments. And be sure to solicit recommendations from your current and past colleagues. Nothing sells the product of you better than glowing reviews from people who have worked with you first-hand!
Tip 4: Smile!
While it’s important to leverage your LinkedIn profile with relevant and intriguing content, none of that will matter if your photo is scaring off potential employers! Needless to say, you should use a photo that looks professional – ideally a black and white headshot taken with a lens camera by a real photographer. If you can’t afford to hire a pro, make sure you look natural and approachable and keep the background a simple white or grey. Remember that recruiters, future colleagues and prospective employers (and even ex-boy/girlfriends) are using this site, so make sure you put your best face forward.
Tip 5: Work that network.
One of the most valuable aspects of LinkedIn is the ability to browse your extended network for new and interesting connections. Go into the profile of one of your most relevant contacts and click “see all connections” in the bottom right of their page. Scan for people in companies, industries or positions you would like to target, then ask them to connect. Don’t do this haphazardly though, since LinkedIn will suspend your account if too many people complain they don’t know you. If you’re unsure, add a customised message to the invitation explaining why you’d like to connect. Make sure you research their past positions and interests to find some common ground – don’t just say you are looking for a job at their company. Another way to build your network is through joining groups which you can search for by typing in a key word into the top right box like “CSR” or “Sustainability”.
This article originally appeared on Acre.