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LinkedIn is a valuable and important tool for contractors, but how can you be sure you’re doing everything you can, to make the most of this vast networking site?
Most people have the following on their minds when logging on and connecting:
We've put together some information to help you use LinkedIn to find a contract.
If you're looking for a new contracting role, LinkedIn is a good place to start and there are a few easy things you can do to increase your chances:
A very visible profile means that LinkedIn Search will favour you, i.e. return your name high on the list of search results if you match the search criteria. Therefore if a potential client’s recruitment team decides to search LinkedIn for a person with your skills, you are more likely to be found.
Having a 100% complete profile means that the information you provide to LinkedIn must include as a minimum, responses in the following fields/groups of fields:
You can have several current positions, this means you can have “Self Employed Contractor” and “Currently working on a contract with London Underground” at the same time. Unfortunately LinkedIn is dogmatic about which of these appears at the top of your Current Position fields; it is the one you started most recently, probably “Currently working at …” which is ok if that’s what you want, but if you want “Self Employed Contractor” at the top, then you have to resort to non obvious manoeuvres. However, when someone searches for skills that you match and gets your name in the search results, the additional information provided on the results page is your Title, not either of the Current Positions. So you also need to complete your Title field which can be different again to your Current Position, and the field is long enough for you to add a catchphrase or a deeper, but pithy description of your capabilities e.g. “Self Employed Contractor with huge experience of all aspects of Oracle software old and new”.
If you are available for a new contract why not say so in your Current Position. It may not look good if you have this as your Current Position for several years but it is perfectly normal to see this for several months.
This can be difficult if you have had only one, but think laterally, split the role into two aspects. If you are a recent graduate, include an internship. LinkedIn does not care if a period of work experience overlaps with dates associated with Education, it is very relaxed about those details.
LinkedIn uses your past experience, and the dates associated with them to suggest as possible connections, names of people who worked in the same place at the same time. This helps you to increase your connections. It works both ways. If there is an episode in your work experience that you’d prefer to ignore, and you do not want to connect with people from that organisation, then leave it out. What you put in LinkedIn should be the truth, as you may well be interviewed about it, but it does not have to be a complete truth.
When you go to fill this in, LinkedIn offers you a drop-down menu of educational establishments. This can be useful to ensure that everyone who was at the same place, calls it by the same name e.g. you are listed at the University of Warwick, and not Warwick University or Warwick Uni, etc. Again, LinkedIn uses this as a means of offering names to you of people who may have been classmates with.
You can put in secondary schools and primary schools; you can put down several universities. If you have had no education whatsoever, you still need to enter something in this field for a 100% complete profile. You can enter what you want e.g. “None what so ever”, “Self Taught”, “School of Life” etc.
Summary, experience and specialities are fields which can contain essentially the same information expressed in different words. It is best to be consistent in style and content with experience: either use bulleted points or joined-up sentences; focus on achievements or role descriptions, but stay with the choice once made. The summary is best viewed as something that a potential recruiter will read and specialities as targeted more towards the LinkedIn search.
Once you have completed these three sections to your satisfaction, have a look at some fellow contractors with similar skill sets and see what keywords they use, if relevant add these to your specialties.
Some people do not like having their photo in their LinkedIn profile, or elsewhere, for various reasons. So don’t. You are required to have a profile picture, not a photo. That said though, a human face goes a long way in reminding people of who you are.
Some people are reluctant to ask for recommendations. You just have to do it. Two tips to make it easier are:
Other activities worth considering to increase your visibility are:
As you come to the end of an assignment, this is a particularly important time to update your LinkedIn Status:
“My role here is nearly complete. Starting to think about a new contract. Something in London starting in October would be good – I need a few weeks holiday before working again.”
At other times just a brief conversational note is all that is called for:
“Going to Apple Mac conference in Olympia Friday.”
This makes it possible for connections to respond, and maybe for you to meet up. More importantly, it ensures that you get a mention in the weekly update that many LinkedIn users get by email, on their iPhones etc. As a LinkedIn user, you are informed when a connection updates their profile, or status, or answers a question. This means that you can regularly but subtly remind your connections that you are here and working, and it is one of the best ways of keeping your profile visible.
If you do everything above, it can help to increase your chances of getting an interview. You can also use LinkedIn to investigate the organisation and the people you are going to meet in the interview, but LinkedIn is not a silver bullet. It cannot impact the first impression that you make as you walk into the room nor how you handle the interview, but you can find all you need to know in our guide to interview tips.
Do you have a question about finding a contract on LinkedIn? Our expert advisors can help.
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