Recently, a friend complained to me about problems with his job search. A company had listed a role he was interested in three times, but he hadn’t even gotten an interview when he submitted his resume for consideration. “No one is going to have the ten plus years of experience they want and be interested in this role. Also, machines do the initial sort of applications; their system is causing them to fail.”
On the one hand, he’s right. There has been increasing pushback on the ridiculous expectations that are attached to some jobs. Additionally, AI can be a necessity to sift through the mountain of applications. Last year, I spoke with a company that received more than a thousand applications for one position during a mere three-day period. The unfortunate result is that your resume never ends up in front of a person without the right searchable keywords. He’s right, we have some serious issues that don’t make it easy.
On the other hand, when I took a couple of minutes to research him, I noted some shortcomings on his side. And most of it involved LinkedIn, so here are my top tips for lining up your LinkedIn account to help you land that interview:
Have a professional headshot
Your LinkedIn Profile pic should be a forward-facing pic. I know, the cropped headshot from your night on the town looks pretty great. Leave it on Facebook. If you do get a bit funky with it (I’m giggling up a storm in mine), make sure there is a reason for it. On my side, I recognize that humor and play are part of the way I approach work, so it is a common thread throughout my profile and writing. There are always ways to be creative and non-traditional about your approach to work. The same is true here, as long as you are consistent in your branding.
Choose a thoughtful background
Don’t leave it at the default image; this gives it a bland look and makes you blend in with everyone else. But here again, be intentional in what you choose. Unless you’re a mountaineer, don’t go with a pic from that one epic trip to the Rockies. Stay relevant, people. Choose something related to either your career or industry. #allaboutthatbranding
Post about your expertise
Show people your professional interests by talking about them. This doesn’t need to occur all the time; it could even be sharing a thoughtful article once a month. But before sharing, add something. State a quote from the article that you think makes an interesting point. Express an opinion on the piece. Sharing an article without any explanation is vague and easily ignored. Anyone can click the share button. You have a brain. You have thoughts. Now is the time to demonstrate that, not a whole bunch of posts right before you start job hunting.
Network with others in your industry
What’s that sound? Oh, just me beating on the same drum that I have in this article or this one… but since networking completely changed my career trajectory, it’s kind of a big deal to me. It helped me meet some amazing people who became mentors and thought partners. By engaging with others in your field — both inside and outside the company you’re working at now — you open yourself up to new opportunities to engage. LinkedIn and industry organizations are powerful tools when it comes to connecting with others in your field. And once you’ve identified them, you absolutely should…
Make thoughtful meeting requests
I won’t lie. I’ve fine-tuned this process over the years. The meetings can range from how best to do a skip-level meeting at your current job to meeting with someone you found on LinkedIn. Whatever the scenario, the interaction is likely to be much more effective if you start it out on the right foot. I know, “start on the right foot.” These are the pearls of wisdom that keep you reading…
Well, with that in mind, don’t send a vague message asking if they want to meet. Do some research on that individual’s LinkedIn page, google their name, and ask to talk to them about a specific question you have in their area of professional interest. Not only does it make for better conversation fodder, but it’s genuinely flattering. I mean, who doesn’t appreciate having others get to know our work?
To wrap it all up, the most important advice all is to do all these things before you want to apply for a job. I know lots of people who only update their profile when they’ve gotten a new job — or want to apply to one. However, since LinkedIn is the first thing that shows up when you google most peoples’ names, this approach just doesn’t cut it. Creating strong personal branding and staying tapped into your industry by consistently engaging through an online presence is vital. You don’t have to be on this app every day, but consider making it a habit to check-in at least once a month or once a week. As with most things in life, this app gives you back what you put in.
Jacquelyn Adams is a storyteller and an award-winning CEO. She lives in a world of constant exploration, whether it’s summiting Mount Kilimanjaro, vlogging about the future of work… or discovering how she’d do in a chocolate eating contest (answer: last place). Find more of her Lessons on Leadership articles here or connect with her on LinkedIn here.