You are a budding, magnificent professional who has excellent experience, which totally qualifies you for that position you’re just about ready to apply for. There’s no way the recruiter for that position isn’t going to at least call you for a phone interview…right? Ha. If only.
According to Forbes, the average number of applicants for any given job is 118. (Ok, I realize that’s a stupid statistic, and if you share my loathing of stupid statistics, you want to stop reading this right now. Don’t. The point is, there’s a lot of freakin’ competition out there for that job you’re super-qualified for.) Assuming that statistic isn’t garbage, that’s 117 applications that yours needs to be better than. No pressure.
Fortunately, computers. We have a ton of tools at our disposal that can help elevate our job applications. One of the simplest and most effective of those tools is LinkedIn. In my ever-so-humble opinion, if you’re applying for jobs and don’t have a solid LinkedIn presence, you’re dead to hiring teams. That holds particularly true if you’re in the marketing or communications fields, which happen to hold special places in my heart.
LinkedIn is a pretty intuitive tool, but it can be a little overwhelming when you’re just getting started. I have faith in you. Here’s a list of questions I’ve heard often from LinkedIn newbs, plus my opinion on each.
First-person or third-person point-of-view?
I’m not exactly sure what it is that fuels my fury about this one, but I think there’s a special place for people who use third-person POV in their LinkedIn profiles. And it’s a fiery place. Yes, LinkedIn is a professional network, but it’s still a social network. People who look you up on LinkedIn know you’re the author. You’re not fooling anyone or making yourself sound any more important by playing your own commentator. For the love of god, describe your accomplishments using “I” and “Me”.
What photo should I use?
For the love of all the deities, don’t you dare use a selfie. And also don’t use photos that include alcohol (unless you’re an aspiring mixologist), animals (unless you’re on your way to becoming a vet or zoologist), or skanky clothing (unless you’re an aspiring, well, I’ll let you fill in the blank here).
If your LinkedIn profile picture includes any of these things and they don’t have anything to do with your current profession or intended career path, I’m judging you. Hard. And so is every other person who sees your profile.
Who should I connect with?
There are a couple different schools of thought out there on this one. Some go the more-the-merrier route, others are more selective on which connect requests they’ll actually accept on LinkedIn.
More often than not, those who subscribe to the latter opinion tend to be higher-ups with access to high-value contacts. That’s because it’s not uncommon for trolls/sleezy salespeople to try to connect with CEOs, SVPs, etc. simply to gain access to their networks, which tends to consist of other CEOs, SVPs, etc. with a lot of decision-making power.
My approach to LinkedIn connections falls somewhere in the middle. I try to only accept requests from people who I actually know, and that I can picture myself comfortably reaching out to to ask a favor from. Granted, I don’t follow this policy religiously — there are plenty of people I’m connected with on LinkedIn who don’t fit that criterion. Most of those people, though, either work at organizations I once upon a time thought I wanted to work for, or seem like relatively influential contacts who probably had some good insight to share, based on the articles and other resources I’ve seen them share.
If I only have 10 minutes to spend, what should I focus on?
If you’re strapped for time, I suggest you focus 10 minutes on these four LinkedIn elements:
- Pick a solid picture to use for your profile
- Write a damn good headline that sums up your areas of expertise
- Add a brief description of your most recent/relevant position
- Connect with 20 of your professional contacts
There you have it, kids. Answers to all your basic/burning LinkedIn questions. Now go forth! Build profile + connect + get one step closer to impressing that recruiter + land that dream job.