Thursday 23 February 2017

8 Ways to use LinkedIn to get back to work

This week's guest blog is by Victoria McLean MD of City CV

If you are planning to return to work after a career break, you need to have all your job search documents ready. It’s not enough these days to simply tag jobs onto the front of your CV and hope for the best: the UK job market is more competitive than ever and if you have been away for any amount of time you really need to invest time and effort in making sure your CV meets current criteria and recruiter expectations.

Alongside a strong, standout CV, LinkedIn is a crucial element in your armoury and your LinkedIn profile has to reflect your excellent career to date. It needs to demonstrate your professional credibility, encourage people to contact and connect with you and, over time, attract the attention of potential hirers. It can also extend your network of influence – creating useful contacts and enhancing your online brand.

LinkedIn is the leading online professional directory of individuals and companies. Individuals use it for professional networking and to present to their world a ‘professional online profile’. It is also a major tool for job seeking.
To give a summary of why LinkedIn is so important for anyone returning to the job market, here are some important numbers:

       Over 400 million users worldwide in more than 200 countries;
       15 million users in the UK alone;
       3 million company pages;
       2 new users are joining LinkedIn every second ;
       40% of those check in daily;
       Most importantly, nearly 50% of engaged LinkedIn users have ‘hiring decision making’ authority.  

So how can you make your profile work for you?
  1. Returning to work after a break - Include your break as a line in your work experience section e.g. 'Parental career break + dates'. You can briefly explain in one or two sentences what you did over that period if it's relevant to your professional profile or you can leave it blank. If your break was intentional, state this. It works well to refer to it in your 2000 character summary section with something like “Following planned parental career break now seeking to return to an executive marketing post.” Nice and simple and to the point.
  2. Changing your careerThe important thing is to develop and then stick to a good strategy.  Your LinkedIn is not just a history of what you have been doing; it should be targeted to where you are going. Spend considerable time thinking about your target role and transferable skills. What were you doing previously that could be advantageous to the new direction you are seeking?
  3. Part-time roles or contractingIf you have had a lot of part-time or contracting roles detail them separately and make sure it is clear that they are contract roles. Unlike your CV where too many employers can make your CV look messy and inconsistant, LinkedIn lists them all clearly and you can be as concise as necessary.
  4.  Take time to get it right - Don’t rush into creating a new profile. You are preparing your business case and establishing your credibility and so your profile needs to be well planned. The key is to take your time. If you feel your LinkedIn needs an overhaul then you need to allow time to do this. You have to be ruthless with content and remain objective throughout. Your profile needs to be strategically thought out, key-word rich and proof read again and again before anything is uploaded live.
  5. Make your career experience countYour work experience section lists your entire career history in chronological order. Here is an opportunity to sell your key deliverables and make them attractive to a potential employer. It’s vital to refer to your key words – key word density is super-important.
  6.  Make connectionsLinkedIn is all about linking and connecting with people you know and/or have worked with but also people and companies you might like to work with. Grow your network by connecting with head-hunters & recruiters, hiring managers, other people in your target sector, and industry leaders. Similarly, join groups connecting to your industry, participate in discussions and find out about the best jobs first.  
  7. Shout about your skillsYou will have used many skills when you were in paid employment so it’s essential to add these to your profile. Think about how you can say the same thing in different ways: Resourcing, Recruitment, Talent Management. You can also add any skills you developed or discovered while on a career break – many skills we use in parenting are transferable. People with at least five skills on their profile have on average 17 times more views. You can have up to 50 skills so make the most of the opportunity.
  8. Include a professional photoDon’t be shy. A professional photo (which means no comedy hats, glasses or cocktails) means you are 14 times more likely to get found on LinkedIn – and 35 times more likely to be sent a message. A head and shoulders shot is perfect.

By Victoria McLean, Managing Director of City CV who provide professional CV and LinkedIn writing services. 

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