I have decided to update this post as it has been two years since I first wrote about the importance of LinkedIn as a professional profile, necessary for career librarians. The use of LinkedIn for recruitment has only grown in that time and it is still true that 90% of recruiters use LinkedIn to find talent. For senior roles where recruiters are actively approaching likely candidates the LinkedIn is definitely the place they look for likely candidates to approach.
And if you apply for a role and get to the maybe pile, recruiters and senior library managers will immediately check your LinkedIn profile to investigate further. A professional, up-to-date LinkedIn profile is defintely an advantage that can often get you to the interview stage. It is also important that your LinkedIn profile is demonstratively active as this helps you to build your ‘brand’, and can position you as knowledgeable in your field. Someone who does this very well is Leanne Williams, CEO West Gippsland Libraries. Her branding is about her leadership skills and she produces short videos discussing her leadership actions, her approach to challenges and how her library is being innovative and successfully implementing new services for her community.
Taking full advantage of LinkedIn as a professional tool to build your professional brand can only help your career journey whether you are at the start of your career or seeking more senior roles in the industry. Librarians and library staff, including me, use Twitter heavily for professional development, sharing and connecting online but if your aim is to be seen by those employing senior library staff LinkedIn is the place to shine. These tips have been updated and will help you to build that strong professional profile. I have a way to go with my LinkedIn profile but it is definitely stronger now that I have implemented these tips.
‘No matter what stage of the job-search process you’re in, you’ll always need a LinkedIn profile that stands out.’ Tyler Omoth 10 ways to make your LinkedIn Profile stand out.
The Photograph: It is essential that you use a professional photograph. If you have not got one then invest in having one taken. Library professionals have not traditionally invested in themselves in this way unless their organisation does this for the website. In today’s image conscious world I do recommend for you to have a set of professional shots that you can use as a very worthwhile investment in your career. It is best to be facing the camera with a professional setting or backdrop if you want to develop a DIY one. It is estimated that a profile photograph increases the chances of showing up in search results by 30%, so if you have not already added one, now is the time. This was a tick for me as I already had changed my profile picture to a professional shot. It is important to update your photograph over time and I was lucky to have a professional shot done for a newspaper article so have updated it recently. Make sure you have updated yours.
The Headline: The headline appears directly under you name and unbeknown to me automatically defaults to your current job title. But is that what you want to be know for? You have 120 characters to identify what you do — not what you are. The best tip I received for writing a great headline was to identify keywords that you want to be known for that match your abilities and then craft a headline with them. And remember LinkedIn is live so editing is in real-time so it might be best to create drafts offline.
Your Summary: This is the About section of your profile and you do get 2000 words to build describe your experience and your focus. Remember to focus on key words for the library industry and hone in on what you do well. Do not just write about your past achievements. Recruiters are looking for what you can do and what you value. Keep it short and snappy — do not use all of those 2000 words on offer as attention spans are shorter now than they ever were. Do not make the mistake of cutting and pasting your resume into the experience section. Include a few dot points for each role and make sure you describe the impact you made — action words, results you delivered, initiatives that you led. These are the important highlights to include.
Recommendations: Having recommendations are key for building credibility online and this was a revelation to me. I was familiar with the Skills and Endorsements area and have endorsed colleagues for known skills and was grateful when colleagues also endorsed me. However, I was not aware how important it is to have written recommendations as well. I have also been known to ignore requests for recommendations but no more. Now that I realise the importance of these for colleagues I will be responding more readily. As a LinkedIn member you have to request recommendations so do not be shy — ask for them. You can help out by giving some keywords and some key information to the colleague you are requesting the recommendation from and of course you get to see the recommendation before it is published and can recommend adjustments if needed. Be generous with your time and offer to give a recommendation as well from those that you request one from.
The other worthwhile tip is that you can review and edit the Skills and Endorsements list so that the Top 10 visible are aligned with your current career objective. My previous profile on LinkedIn looked like the word picture below.
And this is the Word Cloud generated after updating my LinkedIn Profile. While not yet perfect it does contain more of the keywords I want highlighted in my profile. It is worthwhile doing this with your own profile to see if it is reflective of your actual abilities and brings our the key words you want recruiters to know about you.
Networking: LinkedIn is a networking platform and gives you all of the tools to enable conversations with colleagues and connections to take place. It also gives you good opportunities to connect with the notifications tab. A job opportunity can arise from a conversation starting with wishing a connection a happy birthday or commenting on a work anniversary. It is important to personalise these if you want a conversation so take the time to comment and acknowledge others work commitment to an organisation, congratulations on a new role, or simply wish someone a Happy Birthday. From this strategy I have re-connected with quite a few colleagues globally and restarted the conversation which leads to new connections, new knowledge and possibly new recommendations. If you do connect with people you do not know it is important to send them a message stating who you are and why you want to connect with them.
In 2020 it is important to keep your LinkedIn profile active. Posting articles of interest, writing and posting your own blogs on professional interests and creating your own visual media, such as Jade Koekoe and Leanne Williams do will help your LinkedIn profile stand out. Remember LinkedIn is not a place for a static resume to be posted and then left to stagnate. LinkedIn is a social networking site and to get the most out of it we should all be connecting with each other around professional interests. Time is an issue for all of us and it is important for career professionals to plan some of their time to build an active online presence in today’s world. I am much more active on Twitter and am determined to be more active on LinkedIn this year. Not sure that visual media will be something that I pursue but we should all be trying out new ways of connecting over time. So get started on that improved LinkedIn profile and invest in your personal online brand today!