LinkedIn Super Secrets: 9 Tips for Job Seekers, Brand Builders and Hiring Managers

LinkedIn Super Secrets: 9 Tips for Job Seekers, Brand Builders and Hiring Managers

It’s hard to believe that when LinkedIn first launched in 2003, it attracted as few as 20 new signups some days.

But now, logging on to the social professional network can feel a bit like swimming in a sea of names, faces, titles and status updates.

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George from accounting is celebrating his three-year anniversary! Colin from college is on his fifth job!

It’s become such a professional staple that not using the platform to its fullest extent could mean missing out on scoring a dream job, tapping into that elusive contact's network and even discovering your next best hire.

So to make sure you aren’t squandering your networking opportunities, we tapped LinkedIn experts (including one directly from the source!), along with some super users to share their best LinkedIn tips.

3 Tips Tailored for Job Seekers …

If you’re gunning for a new gig, this may be your year: In LinkedIn’s 2015 U.S. Recruiting Trends report, half of talent managers said that finding quality candidates was their No. 1 priority—and social professional networks have become their top source for ferreting out first-class hires.

Here’s how to prime your profile to make it stand out from the crowd:

1. Let them see you. Selfie lovers, rejoice. You now have a business case for perfecting the angle on those solo shots.

“LinkedIn profiles with a picture are 14 times more likely to be viewed,” says Catherine Fisher, LinkedIn’s career expert.

Not only does simply having a photo get you views, but refreshing your profile photo will help boost them. According to LinkedIn data, Millennials change their profile photos more frequently than any other age group—which means they’re also the most viewed demo on the site.

"LinkedIn users who have at least 40 words in their Summary section can drive more page views.”

2. Ramp up your writing. In the age of social media, brevity has become the new normal. But what’s good for your Twitter feed isn’t so great for your LinkedIn profile.

“LinkedIn users who have at least 40 words in their Summary section can drive more page views,” says Fisher, explaining that it will improve the chances you’ll get into search results.

That said, she cautions against using so-called buzzwords that have become trite—worst offenders like motivated, passionate, creative, driven, extensive experience, responsible, strategic, track record, organizational and expert.

“Instead of saying how ‘passionate’ you are—demonstrate it,” she adds. “Include examples of your work, how you drive results, and what you do to make yourself stand out from the crowd."

3. Highlight non-work accomplishments. Did you graduate summa cum laude? Spend weekends wrangling volunteers at the animal shelter? Then tout these things.

“Completing the ‘Education’ section of your profile drives 10 times more views than profiles without it," Fisher says. "In our research of hiring managers, 42% also say they view volunteer experience in a profile as equivalent to work experience."

If you’re a recent grad transitioning to a new industry or seeking positions that aren’t similar to previous roles, this added information can help fill in professional gaps—and demonstrate that you have abilities beyond your niche.

RELATED: 5 Things Job Candidates Obsess Over—But Hiring Managers Don’t

3 Tips Tailored for People Looking to Boost Their Brand …

In the old days positioning yourself as an authority in your field meant signing up for conference-speaking gigs three months down the line.

But thanks to social networking, business owners and entrepreneurs have the opportunity to reach the masses—without having to hire the big PR guns.

1. Start a content stream. Ever see a post from a LinkedIn Influencer—thought leaders who publish their own content and attract millions of followers—and think: “If only I could be one of them!”

While Fisher notes that Influencers earn the designation by invitation only, entrepreneurs can brand themselves as thought leaders, too, simply by sharing their own ideas.

RELATED: Career Confidence: 6 Ways to Artfully Self-Promote at Work

For starters, you can publish blog posts from your LinkedIn homepage opining on the latest trends in your industry, while making sure to pepper in popular search terms.

Amy McIlwain, vice president of social and digital media at Moore Communications Group and author of “The Social Advisor: Social Media Secrets of the Financial Industry,” also suggests posting dynamic content—say, videos of your speaking engagements or links to SlideShare presentations you’ve created—to further optimize your profile.

If you already have a site or blog you publish to frequently, have those posts do double duty. “I typically duplicate my blog entries on LinkedIn, opening them up to thousands of new users,” says Natalie Bidnick, digital strategist at Elizabeth Christian Public Relations. "It drives 20% more traffic to my website."

The Description box holds up to 2,000 characters—prime space for sharing a case study, customer testimonial or other big wins you scored.

2. Take your profile photo on a test drive. Now that we’ve established profile photos get you more page views, is the one you’ve chosen giving off the right impression to potential clients?

To make sure your look is polished, McIlwain suggests cropping in tight on your profile, from the shoulders up—while neatly groomed and dressed in professional attire, of course. Also, avoid a busy environment by opting for a plain backdrop.

To see which facial expression works best, McIIwain recommends testing out options on photofeeler.com. “You can upload a photo, and others will rate it based on influence, likability and credibility,” she says.

3. Maximize character counts. Your LinkedIn profile is chock full of mini sections that can double as areas where you can claim professional bragging rights.

Take your Summary description, which offers up to 2,000 characters. So trade that boring, one-sentence description for one that touts your big professional accomplishments—with plenty of keywords baked in.

The Description box beneath each job within the Experience section also holds up to 2,000 characters—prime space for sharing a case study, customer testimonial or other big wins you scored at each job, says Viveka von Rosen, author of “LinkedIn Marketing: An Hour a Day.”

And remember that it’s not just text you can add—LinkedIn lets you upload documents, photos, links, videos and presentations to your Summary and Experience sections.

Did you help produce a commercial at your first job? Pen a big whitepaper at your last one? Have a personal website you’re proud of? Attach them so would-be clients can see real examples of the impact you made.

RELATED: 8 Traits You’ll Find in Every Fearless Job Hunter

3 Tips Tailored for Hiring Managers in Search of Superstars …

Fishing out candidates who may not even be looking to make a move is one of the biggest benefits of LinkedIn.

But to truly take advantage of the site as a recruiting tool, it pays to be strategic—and also ensure you’re not inadvertently breaking hiring laws while you’re at it.

1. Highlight employee life on your company page. Your workplace's LinkedIn page is one way potential hires can get a sense of who they’d be working for—but only if you consistently showcase culture and personality through updates.

“Interview happy employees and customers. Post pics and stories of the social good your company is involved with,” von Rosen says. “This might be what tips the scales.”

In fact, LinkedIn found that “talent brand”—what workers think about their employer, and how they share that with others—can help company overhead: Companies with stronger talent brands reported 28% lower turnover than those with weaker ones. And 77% of talent leaders say it has a significant impact on their ability to hire great employees.

That said, posting a bunch of new updates just because you know an important candidate is looking isn’t fooling anyone—it takes time to build talent brand.

“Attempting to rush and just publish something when it’s hiring time [means you’re already] behind the eight-ball,” says Dennis Tupper, marketing programs manager and former corporate recruiter for Eliassen Group. “Producing continuous content regarding the culture and success of your company is a long-term solution to your hiring needs."

“I have disqualified candidates because they had serious discrepancies between their profiles and résumés.”

2. Invite candidates to apply before perusing their profiles. If you’re like most managers, you probably do an industry-specific keyword search, see who pops up, and then start clicking through profiles.

The problem with this seemingly innocent approach? You could potentially put your company at risk for violating employment laws.

“The [legal] problem is once you view their profile, you know their race; gender, if it’s not clear from their name; and possibly religion, if they’re wearing a religious symbol,” says executive recruiter Bruce Hurwitz, CEO of Hurwitz Strategic Staffing. “By reading their profile, you may also learn they are married, have children, or maybe have a disability.”

And none of this information can legally be used as a factor in deciding whom to consider for a job.

Hurwitz instead uses LinkedIn as a means of bringing in interested candidates. He'll do a keyword search by location and industry, then message select contacts from the results with the job description, asking them to send in a résumé if they’re interested.

If the candidate brings up their LinkedIn profile during the interview, he’ll pull up the page, so they can discuss it in person. In rare instances this has helped weed out some candidates earlier in the process.

“I have disqualified candidates because they had fraudulent recommendations on their profiles, or there were serious discrepancies between their profiles and resumes,” Hurwitz says.

3. Check recent activity. Once you’re ready for a profile deep dive, don’t just stay on a candidate’s profile page. Get a sense for what they're interested in, what trends they watch, and which well-known business people they follow by checking out their activity feed, suggests von Rosen.

You get to this page by clicking on the drop down menu next to the “Send a message /InMail” button, then choosing the “View recent activity” option.

If the candidate hasn’t set their settings to private, you should be able to see what types of content they’ve shared and liked. Looking for an innovator? Perhaps the one who hangs on Richard Branson’s every word is the right fit for the job.

RELATED: 10 LinkedIn ‘Secrets’ We Bet You Didn’t Know

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