LinkedIn has grown to become the most powerful professional social network ever created. Chances are, you are one of the 450+ million users on LinkedIn and may even be one of the 100+ million users who are active on LinkedIn at least once per month. Unlike Facebook, whose platform focuses on connecting friends and family, LinkedIn is has built a network to connect professionals across the globe with one another. Just like Facebook, their database of user profiles, companies, and jobs are user-generated and updated. This user-monitored approach allows their 400+ million users worldwide to update their profiles at any time and for any reason. Due to its instantly updatable global network, LinkedIn’s networking capabilities has become the largest, most up to date “encyclopedia” for who’s who across every industry on a global scale. What makes this even more exciting is that anyone can sign up and take advantage of the network free of charge.
Who is viewing your profile?
Even if you are not an avid user of LinkedIn, you are still a part of the LinkedIn community. Your profile is public to the world and can be searched for by other members. Although this is similar to most other social media networks, LinkedIn is unique due to the type of audience that is attracted to your profile. On Facebook, most of your friend requests and profile views come from friends, colleagues, family members, and acquaintances. On LinkedIn, complete strangers are clicking on your profile to learn more about your professional achievements. Of course, you may be connected with people that you personally know, including current and past colleagues, but the large majority of profile views come from people you have never met.
What is the benefit of connecting with other members?
Members connect with one another to share information. If you think LinkedIn is only used for job searching, you are missing out on all of the great things your network can offer. There is no denying that LinkedIn has gained popularity in the job hunting world, replacing the outdated practice of posting a CV on Monster and CareerBuilder in favor of a more actively connecting with hiring managers and companies directly. Recruiters also have direct access to message any of LinkedIn’s members whom they feel would be an asset to their company. But this is only a drop in the bucket of what professional networking is all about. Junior professionals can ask for advice from the experts in their industry while seasoned professionals are able to bounce ideas off of other thought leaders, which they can then follow to stay on top up industry news and trends. For example, since I am in the staffing business let’s say I am interested in investing in a new Applicant Tracking System where I can manage my candidate pool. The investment is going to be substantial in time and money. Before committing on a program I can reach out to other recruiters to learn about their Applicant Tracking Systems to find out which one(s) they like the best and why. Without LinkedIn, not only would I lack access to these recruiters, but I may not even know they exist.
But what about the downside?
On the flip side, there is a dark side to LinkedIn, including heavy amounts of spam, irrelevant content on your feed, recruiters that borderline stalk you, and an excessive number of messages in your inbox that you don’t have the time nor motivation to return. One option is to completely remove yourself from LinkedIn, but the benefits of being a member far outweigh the negatives. That said, is there a way to minimize the downside to create a better LinkedIn experience?
Why Does Your Profile Matter?
All of the content you receive on LinkedIn revolves around your profile. Your profile is your public billboard. It provides free advertisement, highlights your education, job history, achievements, and professional recommendations. The more impressive your profile, the more thought leadership power you will have and the easier your profile will be found by the type of people you want to network with. As we will discuss later, each part of your profile matters. Your profile also determines the content of your “feed” thanks to LinkedIn’s algorithms. A poor profile can do more harm than good. You will be poorly branded, your profile will not be found by relevant searches (meaning you will not be found by people you want to be found by), and in most cases, attract more irrelevant content on your feed and untargeted messages.
Your Profile and Career Opportunities
LinkedIn estimates that around 70% of their users are passively open to better opportunities. To some extent, it is shocking this number isn’t higher. It is always a good idea to have your finger on the pulse of what is going on in your industry including who’s hiring, what skills are in demand, and what your competitors are paying. The best time to find a job is when everything is going well in your current position. Your judgment isn’t clouded by the need for change. The opportunities that pique your interest are those that offer some form of advancement, whether for financial gain or developing additional skills. The better your profile, the better, and more relevant, job opportunities will come your way.
If you are engaged in a job search, realize that potential employers use LinkedIn as an added tool to vet their candidates. They can see if you share any mutual connections, have posted interesting and meaningful content and can read recommendations left by past and present colleagues.
If you are a hiring manager, be prepared for candidates to research your profile before an interview. You can see who has done their homework based on their familiarity with your experience, leading to better Q&A sessions and overall better interviews.
How Does LinkedIn Determine Your Feed?
Not only does LinkedIn allow professionals to communicate, but they also have algorithms to determine what content they seem meets your interests. Your newsfeed is based on trending topics and popular posts. Basically, the more an article or update is liked and shared, the more likely it is to make it on your newsfeed.
These updates can include articles that are trending in your industry, geographic region or other demographic that matches your profile. They can also include updates from companies you are currently following, including your own company. You will see updates from your connections including their posts, articles, job changes, and work anniversaries. One thing that many people don’t realize is you can also follow thought leaders without them following you back. For example, you can follow influencers such as Bill Gates or Richard Branson to have access to their posts.
Your feed also includes paid advertisements. LinkedIn offers multiple marketing products that allow companies to target specific audiences. In fact, LinkedIn has continued to add advertisement services. There are multiple pay per click/impression banners, “sponsored updates”, and even “sponsored inMails.” Sponsored updates appear on your LinkedIn feed, usually the second or third update. You can tell when content is sponsored as there will be a note saying “sponsored” or “promoted.” Basically, the company paid for the update to target you. Sponsored InMails are similar but appear as messages in your inbox. Just like sponsored updates they target members using specific search criteria. Sponsored content allows companies to target specific users that fit a given search criteria.
The better your profile and more active you are on LinkedIn, the more relevant the content you will receive from all sources.
Did you know: You are able to change the type of content you receive through “Settings” which will help cut down on content? Unfortunately, any paid advertisements, update, or InMails cannot be blocked.
How Do Recruiters Find You?
All of LinkedIn’s users have access to basic search parameters, allowing to search for people, jobs, and content. You can take that one step further by conducting an advanced search which gives access to additional features such as current companies, industries, and schools just to name a few. What you may not know is that LinkedIn has a paid service for recruiters that allows access to a much more detailed set of search criteria. An exhaustive list includes: Job Title (Current or Past), Location/Postal Code (inclusion and exclusion), Skills, Companies (Current or Past), Employment Type (Contract or Perm), School, Year of Graduation, Fields of Study, Degrees, Industries, Keywords, Spoken Languages, Profile Languages, First Name, Last Name, Network Relationship (1St Connection, 2nd, 3rd and everyone else, Group Members), When the user joined LinkedIn, Years of Experience, Years in Current Company, Years in Current Position, Seniority, Military Veterans, Company Type, Company Size, Company Followers, Job Functions, People with Past Messages (either with or without messages in a given timeframe), and Past Applicants (who applied to previous postings). There is also access to add notes to profiles, add profiles to projects, and set reminders for follow up.
The more detailed the search, the more accurate the results. The more complete and updated your profile, the more you will come upon the right searches.
In addition, LinkedIn has added a function to lets recruiters know you are open to opportunities. What makes this special is that none of your colleagues or any affiliates of your company will have access to this notification. In other words, only outside recruiters who utilize LinkedIn’s premium Recruiter platform have access to this information. Members who are open to opportunities are much more likely to receive recruiter outreach.
How Can You Determine if Your LinkedIn Profile Is Working Against You?
If you find that you are receiving too many irrelevant updates or unwanted messages from recruiters, your profile is most likely the cause. The same is true if you are not being targeted by industry leaders or competitors. A lack of messages can be just as harmful as being exposed to a plethora of content that you are not interested in. No one strives to be the most uninteresting person on social media.
In either circumstance, 90% of the times, it means that your profile is either outdated or incomplete. You may be receiving too many irrelevant messages from recruiters (or you may not be targeting all) because your profile is showing up in search results based on outdated or incomplete fields and LinkedIn may be pointing content based on minimal or outdated algorithm data.
Small changes can make great impacts. Follow LinkedIn’s best practices and make sure that your profile is up to date, complete, and try to be active at least once a month to ensure you are networking.
Stay tuned next week for 10 LinkedIn Profile Best Practices to create an impactful profile.
The Headhunter Guide is RECRUITER WRITTEN'S way to provide insider's knowledge to candidates and employers alike. Enjoy!