In this article – updated in 2023, a recruitment expert explains why LinkedIn has become such an essential tool for contractors and recruiters, and what you can do to boost your online profile.
Thanks to Matt Craven of The CV & Interview Advisors who answered our questions.
Why bother with LinkedIn?
LinkedIn has over 900 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 where 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. If we think about the core essence of networking, it’s somewhat obvious that 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 certain recruiters.
If you are seeking outside IR35 roles, I would strongly advise doing this; if you are seeking inside-IR35 contracts, it’s not such a big deal. I would also 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?
It’s not a section that anyone spends a great deal of time reading but the skills you add help with LinkedIn SEO i.e., they make you more visible when people are searching for contractors with those skills.
In fact, you are 13 times more likely to be found by virtue of having skills listed on your profile. It is, therefore a wise move to add all 50 available skills (in the Skills & Endorsements section) and to ensure you ‘assign’ these skills to the Positions and Projects that they relate to.
I would also recommend manually adding a selection of key skills into your About section.
Is there anything you can do to improve the chances of appearing on recruiter searches?
There are many tactics for increasing visibility such as:
- adding skills which render 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);
- 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 than 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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