It’s hardly a secret that LinkedIn is the most popular platform for job-seekers and talent-seekers in the market. There are over 570 million users, with just under half being active users of the platform. (For context, the US Census Bureau reports that there are around 330 million people living in the US today.)
As I’ve been headhunting and recruiting for my firm MilSpec Capital, I’ve picked up on some tips and tricks to help you better position yourself to leverage LinkedIn and find a new career. LinkedIn should not replace your resume, but it is a strong tool that you can use to shape how others perceive you, especially potential employers.
First and foremost, the best way to find your dream job is to network. Be active and get out there to meet wonderful people in your targeted industry. I believe networking is widely misunderstood, especially for transitioning Veterans, and I hope to write more on it later. Ultimately, it’s about having what my friend and mentor says, the “Good Dude/Dudette Factor” and being clear and concise on what sparks your interest.
LinkedIn is a great tool to initiate your networking, as you can reach out to folks who you feel you can add value to, and vice versa. It is also the #1 tool that recruiters and headhunters use to network with you, so that they can offer career opportunities that may fit your interest.
Remember, recruiters are folks hired by the companies to find exceptional talent for their open positions. Hence, most recruiters spend quite a bit of time learning and understanding the nuances of the position and company, to find out exactly what type of candidate would excel. When someone reaches out to you, really investigate what they know about the role and see if you are a fit for that opportunity.
If you are on the market to either actively or passively look for new career opportunities, make sure your enhance your LinkedIn profile with the following:
Upload great photos. This includes your profile and cover pictures. Your profile pic should be inviting; it is the first impression of you. Don’t think of it as your DA (Department of the Army) photo, where you have to look all badass and serious, that you’re all about business! Your pic should say, “Hey there Mr. Employer or other networkers, I’m a good person for you to talk to, come hit me up!” Plus, your cover photo (background) should demonstrate a little something about your personality that makes you, you. (Obviously keep it professional. No swimsuit pic of you lounging by the pool drinking your Lemon Lime White Claw.)
Complete your profile with accurate info. You know that little bar that says what your profile strength is on LinkedIn? Complete that to the best of your ability. Have the right dates, titles, and names of employers -- and yes, it should match your resume! Have a few sentences on what your job was and what achievements you were able to accomplish in the role(s). Complete your Education, Certifications, and Skills sections where you were thoughtful on how you want to be perceived. DON’T GO OVERBOARD and ask a gazillion people to endorse you for all of these things or recommendations but having a few helps.
Think hard on an appropriate headline. I advise my candidates and folks I help to really think about how they want to be perceived. If they were to boil down that description to a few words, perhaps even an avatar, what would that be? Your headline is the first or second thing a person (or recruiter) sees to learn something about you. It does NOT have to be your current title or position you’re in. You can either have a short title about you or state that you are open to other opportunities. Take advantage of this headline to make a quick statement of what you’re looking for and demonstrate your “so what?”
Write a clear and concise summary section. While it shouldn’t be pages long, your summary section should show your passion, interests, and unique abilities as an individual. It’s similar to a cover letter, where you can write about your experiences that make you that right fit for a job, aside from just your bullet points on your resume. The summary section should support your headline, by demonstrating what experiences you’ve gained and what industries you’ve been exposed to. I’ve also seen effective summary sections with bullet points to summarize core competencies or industries. Quantify when appropriate -- please, please avoid buzzwords like “cross-cultural collaborator”, “results-oriented leader” or “out-of-the-box thinker”.
Be aware that there is a “switch” to notify recruiters you’re looking. In the middle of your profile is a section that says, “Let recruiters know you’re open.” It’s a switch you can turn on or off. If on, recruiters will see this on their platform and actively pursue you for job opportunities they have. If off, recruiters may still reach out to you for networking purposes, but you will not be targeted so frequently. LinkedIn was also smart enough to program that your internal recruiters from your company, cannot see when you turn this switch on, so this signal will be relatively “private.”
MilSpec Capital is a boutique headhunting firm that connects High-Impact Veterans to our client companies in various industries. Our Veterans typically have 5-15 years of private sector experience, in addition to their successful track record of Leadership.