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LinkedIn checklist for jobseekers

by Shannon Houde

A step-by-step guide for optimizing your LinkedIn profile in your sustainability job search

1. Upload an appropriate and professional profile photo

The #1 mistake jobseekers make on LinkedIn is having an unprofessional photo or no photo at all. Make sure you put your best face forward with a nice-looking, conservative headshot. Hire a photographer if possible, or get a friend to take a photo with a simple white or gray background, and make sure your expression is comfortable and approachable.

2. Provide an informative, attention-grabbing professional headline

Along with your profile photo, your professional headline is the first thing people see when they check you out on LinkedIn. Most people just list their title and the company they currently work for (i.e. ‘Financial Analyst at Goldman Sachs’), but, as a jobseeker, you need a headline that is bolder and more descriptive. Use these 120 characters to describe your industry, skills and objective, and don’t be afraid to announce your job search right there in your headline (unless of course you don’t want your current employer to know you are looking).

Here are some examples of good headlines for sustainability professionals and jobseekers:

  • “Sustainability consultant specializing in renewable energy & strategy”
  • “Recent masters graduate looking to leverage sustainability, marketing and social media skills”
  • “Sustainability practitioner and thought leader seeking leadership position for FTSE250”

3. Write an engaging, keyword-rich summary

LinkedIn now provides a section at the top of your profile for a summary and list of specialities. Write 50-100 words describing your professional profile and objective, i.e. “your pitch”. You should provide the same basic information as your summary/profile section of our CV, but, since attention spans are shorter on the web, it can be written in the first person and in a more conversational and salesy tone.

The second part of the summary section is your list of specialities. This part is all about optimizing your profile for search using relevant keywords. Your specialities should be a list of at least 10 terms that cover all of your industries, skills, interest, past, current and potential job titles, etc. Make sure you include synonyms (i.e. ‘sustainability’, and ‘corporate social responsibility’, and ‘‘corporate responsibility’) to improve your likelihood of being found through recruitment searches.

4. Provide a detailed job history

The professional experience section of your LinkedIn profile is pretty straightforward, but I still see clients fail to provide detailed information about their current and past positions.  Start with the descriptions and bulleted accomplishment statements from your CV, but abbreviated in length.  Since, unlike a CV, your LinkedIn profile is ‘one size fits all’, it’s OK to include all of the information and bullets from your previous jobs that you might have deleted for a more targeted CV. Use bullet points to make your descriptions easy to read. Unfortunately LinkedIn does not make it easy to add bullets, so simply copy and paste the bullets from #2 of this document, or use the > symbol.

5. Highlight your accomplishments with additional sections

LinkedIn recently added the option to include additional sections in your profile such as ‘Certifications’, ‘Awards’, ‘Languages’, etc. Fill out all sections that apply, and reorder them so the most relevant and impressive sections are at the top.

6. Get positive recommendations

There’s nothing better than positive recommendations to reassure a potential employer. Aim for at least one recommendation for every job you’ve had. And, if you aren’t already, start asking for recommendations all the time, not just when you are searching for a job. It feels a lot less awkward to ask when your work is fresh on the person’s mind.

7. Join relevant groups

Showcase your knowledge and engagement in the sustainability field and other industries by joining relevant groups. Use the search bar at the top of LinkedIn to search for groups in your local area, as well as in your niche industry.

Contact me for some bespoke advice on your personal brand and LinkedIn.

Photo credit: SplitShare via Pexels

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