In this article, a recruitment expert explains why LinkedIn has become such an essential tool for contractors and recruiters alike, and what you can do to improve your online profile so your details rank highly in agency search results.
Thanks to Matt Craven of The CV & Interview Advisors who answered our questions.
Why bother with LinkedIn?
LinkedIn has 347 million members, 40% of users check it daily and 85% of hiring managers / recruiters will check contractors out on LinkedIn before inviting them for an interview. The site has also become the largest candidate database in the world and it is one of the key places that recruiters and hiring managers look for talent.
LinkedIn has extremely powerful search functionality and therefore it is a no brainer for any recruiter to use it as a tool for sourcing contractors for their clients. It is also a tool for networking with senior hirers / decision makers so that you are a visible entity within your area of speciality; like the Celestine Prophecy teaches, the more people you interact with, the more likely it is that opportunities will come your way.
How should you list your previous contracts on LinkedIn?
Despite sometimes advocating a non-chronological approach to a CV, I would still recommend that contracts are listed in reverse chronological order on LinkedIn, largely due to the constraints of the LinkedIn interface. There is a strong argument for putting your limited company as your current position to keep in the good grace of HMRC although this can confuse more than the odd recruiter. I would suggest having a portfolio of case studies in the Projects section linking off from each Position.
What about key skills – is this the main thing to concentrate on from a presentation point of view?
The key skills help with LinkedIn SEO but it’s not a section that anyone spends a great deal of time reading. You are 13 times more likely to be found by virtue of having skills listed on your profile but that is more for the ‘machine’ than the ‘human’.
I would recommend also adding a selection of key skills into your Summary where the Specialities section used to be before LinkedIn’s recent facelift. Of course, your Summary should also describe in detail the 3 or 4 areas that you focus (these could also be referred to as key skills)
Is there anything you can do to improve the chances or appearing on recruiter searches?
There are many tactics for increasing visibility such as: adding key skills which renders you 13 times more likely to be found; joining groups (group members can see and contact you without having to connect); providing other LinkedIn users with a recommendation (you are then visible to their network); making sure your settings are such that the general public can see your entire profile (there’s no point hiding); and adding recommendations to your own profile (you are 3 times more likely to be contacted about an opportunity if your profile displays a portfolio of strong recommendations).
Should you indicate that you’re actively seeking contract work, or mention when your current contract expires?
Absolutely; anything that helps the recruiter understand your availability is a good idea and of course, if you are soon to complete an assignment, recruiters are going to be much keener to contact you that if you have just started a 12 month contract.
Are there any things you definitely shouldn’t include in your online profile?
The general rules of common sense apply here but the key things that spring to mind are not having a photo downing shots in a bar; make sure your photo is a professional head and shoulders shot (it’s important to have a photo by the way). Interests are interesting for a potential hiring manager but can often lead to people making preconceptions about you if their interests don’t match your own. Be careful with confidential information or anything subject to security clearance or an NDA (you can say more on your CV than you can on a public forum).
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