Why LinkedIn can't be a carbon copy of your CV
Posted on 20 August 2015
New Zealand is one of the most active LinkedIn countries in the world, yet many of the profiles I look at are left severely wanting and ultimately fall well short of what they could achieve. As a recruiter, I can't overstate the importance of getting this right and based on the amount of questions I get about it, my sense is that people don't really know how to go about nailing it! Hopefully, these thoughts might help...
Honesty and what you should or should not share
For a starter LinkedIn is public and whilst it's not curated by anyone (at this point) - write it as if the teacher was checking it. Unfortunately, whilst most people embellish their CV (and I don't condone it), hiring managers tend to have a modicum of discounting what they read in a CV – so it’s a partially self-regulating system. However whatever you say on your CV, please don't replicate it on LinkedIn; don't fib in public, it's hard to erase a digital footprint! Whilst we're on transparency, be aware of over sharing confidential information. Some stuff just can't be detailed (turnover MAY be ok, profit probably isn’t, project details it depends). The rule of thumb here is if it was ok for full internal consumption, it's probably ok for the public to know. If you can share work that you have produced, make use of the ability to add rich media such as images, documents, videos and presentations to your profile.
Get the photograph right. This isn't Facebook or your cycling site, so consider what you want to communicate. Unlike your CV where I believe it’s best not to include a photo, your LinkedIn profile absolutely needs one and a professional one at that. So is it fun or business? Beach or boardroom - probably the latter, unless you’re a ‘creative’ – then be that way. And please use a photo that's been taken within 5 years.
You need to be aware of keywords in your Professional Headline as well as your summary and employment history. To help you to be found these keywords should describe your occupation and your key skills. This needs to be in the publicly visible section to be worthwhile and searchable by potential employers. In addition to helping you be found, your Professional Headline needs to have key words/phrases in it, as it will set the scene for your networks, showing them who you are and essentially who you want to be seen as. Lastly be conscious of what the world would view your role as, i.e. if your title is Co-CEO and you’re really the operations manager, then I would suggest calling yourself an Operations Manager, as if you’re really honest with yourself, it’s unlikely you’ll be hired into a CEO role anytime soon!
Joining LinkedIn groups
Be aware of what your group membership says about you... people will look at the groups you are associated with and assume that you have a connection or interest in the area. Make sure they’re groups that will complement your profile and that you’re proud to be part of.
Consider the reader (who you want to view your profile)
Again, unlike a CV you only have one version. So once more consider the reader, who is that you're appealing too. What is the consistent message that you are wanting to put out there? People will only scan your profile and need to be able to extract key info rapidly.
Make sure you are clear and brief
Make you profile clear on what you are about and what you can offer as well as making it brief - no one wants to read an essay. It should be simple to skim read and unlike your CV where you may go into more specifics when applying for a certain role – you don’t need to include every detail on your profile, but do include key achievements; where possible always measurable ones!
Hopefully the suggestions above will help you frame your LinkedIn profile so it isn't an exact replica of your CV and will in get you found for the things that you want to be found for!