As a job seeker in 2013, you’re lucky. You have LinkedIn.
10 years ago when I changed careers and left the solar industry, I didn’t have LinkedIn as a personal branding tool. As a result, here’s an example of the sort of response I received:
“I see you have experience selling solar panels in Kathmandu. I’m not sure you’d be a good fit for our software company.”
Do you know what the problem was? I knew what transferable skills the employer was looking for but it was difficult demonstrating them.
(If you’re in a career transition then read this article to make sure you’re maintaining a consistent digital reputation.)
Nowadays, many job seekers have the same issue because they don’t know how to properly use LinkedIn to their advantage. Well, good thing you’re reading this article.
Here are three ways to tweak your LinkedIn profile so you can better communicate what you WANT to be doing so you move away from what you USED to be doing.
1. Zip Code: Use the One of the Place You Want to Be
Picture a job board in your head. What are the two pieces of information you would use? If you said, “location and job title,” then you’re correct. An employer is doing the exact same thing when seeking qualified candidates: location and job title.
If you’re going through a career transition, you need to be prepared to move. Mobility is the number one reason why we have such high unemployment rates… people are unable (or unwilling) to move to locations that are hiring.
If you’ve accepted the fact you’re going to have to move cities to get the best opportunities, then make sure you edit your LinkedIn profile to reflect the new city.
(Yes, even before you’ve moved there.)
Let’s say you live in Wisconsin, but want to move to Atlanta because there is more IT hiring. If your profile says Atlanta (the new location), employers from Atlanta will see your profile when they conduct searches. If you keep a Wisconsin address, and you know Wisconsin isn’t hiring for IT, don’t plan on being found by a potential employer.
Tip: If you don’t have an address yet in the new location, just enter a zip code.
2. LinkedIn Headlines: Indicate What You Want to Do
You are who you say you are. In 1997, Tom Peters wrote, “You’re not defined by your job title and you’re not confined by your job description.” in his seminal article in Fast Company.
Just because you aren’t compensated by a company to do a certain job function, doesn’t mean you can’t call yourself that job function.
Let’s say you were a marketer and now you want to be a project manager. Go to your LinkedIn headline and call yourself a project manager. Sure, you’ll have mixed feelings at first but if you’re always thinking about it, then why aren’t you a project manager? You enjoy the work. You’re good at it. You have skills that make you qualified.
Heck, you “love” being a project manager.
And, the best part is, since you now call yourself by the new title, employers looking for one of you will more likely find you when they search on LinkedIn. If you were an employer, would you search up someone using this term, “ex-marketer turned project manager,” or would you just search for project manager?
3. Recruiters: Strategically Add ‘Em to Your Network
When it comes to your network, size matters. More connections means more possibilities.
Have you noticed how many recruiters are on LinkedIn? I bet some have even randomly tried connecting with you and you cringed.
Well, stop. Don’t be afraid of them. They can help you… a ton.
Being connected to a fleet of recruiters who focus on placing folks in your industry (and in your location) matters more than almost any other factor.
Most recruiting firms specialize in a job function or industry. They are paid by companies in that industry to locate and filter through talent. Therefore, guess who’s in their LinkedIn network? The professionals you also want to be connected with.
It’s making more sense now, right?
On top of that, recruiters want you in their network, since they might want to pitch you for a position. So, when you add a recruiter whom you don’t even know, they’re extremely likely to accept your invite.