Talent   //   January 21, 2022

The war for talent is raging: Here’s how to make your LinkedIn profile sparkle

Some call it the Great Resignation. LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network with almost 800 million users, labels it the Great Reshuffle. Whichever phrase you use, it’s clear: the war for talent is raging like never before. More people than ever, spurred by the coronavirus crisis, are seeking to change their course of life, which translates to curriculum vitae in Latin, fittingly.

“We are experiencing unprecedented change when it comes to work,” Charlotte Davies, careers expert at LinkedIn, told WorkLife. “The coronavirus crisis has driven people to consider what they truly want from work and life. Because of this, companies are rethinking their entire working models, culture, and values.”

While employers must do more to attract and retain skilled workers, employees should update and polish their resumés. That said — perhaps it’s more worthwhile to buff one’s LinkedIn profile, given that research from last April suggests a person is hired via the platform every 15 seconds. 

Indeed, Conor McCabe, a market director at specialist-talent recruitment agency Robert Half, argues “a LinkedIn profile is now more important than having a CV [resumé].” Similarly, Liz Sebag-Montefiore, director and co‑founder of 10Eighty, an employee engagement company in London, stresses the importance of a sparkling LinkedIn profile. 

“The majority of employers look at social network profiles before making hiring decisions,” she said. “And LinkedIn is the key site to build your network of connections. It’s also useful to help you become more productive in your career, search for jobs and stay up to date with industry and company information.”

More recent LinkedIn data, focused on the U.K. workforce and published on January 18, indicates nine in 10 employees feel confident in their current roles. However, this self-assurance is causing 67% — or 22 million workers — to look for a new challenge this year, the highest percentage among European workers. Davies also referenced additional, unpublished LinkedIn data, which reveals that 86% of C-level executives in the U.K. are planning to change their workplace policies as a result of the pandemic.”

She noted the way people use LinkedIn has evolved in the last two years. “People are being more honest, open and transparent, and there is a greater sense of community,” she said.

We spoke to Davies, along with recruiters and employment experts for tips on how to make a Linkedin profile stand out.

Gain visibility with a recent profile picture

Obvious advice, one might think, but the adage that a picture paints a thousand words is especially true for recruiters and prospective employers. For example, Davies points out that people with a profile photo have 21 times more views and nine times more connection requests than members who don’t.

“If you don’t have a profile picture on LinkedIn, it’s unlikely you’ll gain any visibility,” said John Nash, founder of recruitment firm Nicholson Search and Selection. “Candidates must have a recent professional but natural photograph, and not in swimwear — yes, we have seen that!”

Robert Half’s McCabe agrees. “I was speaking with an excellent candidate, but when I saw his LinkedIn profile picture — showing him drunk at a music festival — it put me off. A profile picture should be authentic and portray the real you, but it still has to be professional.”

Take time on headline and summary descriptions

“Use the headline effectively,” said 10Eighty’s Sebag-Montefiore. “Most people tend to use this as their most recent job title, but it doesn’t have to be. Instead, think about what you want to do next and use that somehow in your headline. There are 120 characters available, so use them to full effect.”

Equally, spend time on the summary description, with keywords and hashtags guiding recruiters. Make use of the 2,000-word capacity. “Unlike a CV [resumé], which you can tailor for a particular role, LinkedIn profiles need to be generic enough to appeal to a variety of roles, but specific enough to meet certain requirements,” added Sebag-Montefiore.

Don’t be shy: showcase your skills

There is space for 50 skills on a LinkedIn profile, and it’s worth maximizing these. “Once skills have been added to your profile, they are open for endorsements from connections, which adds weight to the profile,” said Sebag-Montefiore. “Also, when looking at jobs on LinkedIn, these skills are used to show you how much of a match you are to that role. It is worth therefore reviewing that list when you look at a job and add additional skills you may have neglected to show, to show you are a closer match.” 

Adding more skills improve a profile, with the “All-Star” level the highest (LinkedIn gives five levels of status depending on how complete a profile is: beginner, intermediate, advanced, expert and all-star). It pays to invest the time to reach that echelon. “Research shows you are 27 times more likely to appear in recruiter searches if you are at [an] All-Star level,” added Sebag-Montefiore.

For Davies, it’s crucial for members to know their worth and not be afraid to list all their skills and prove them via LinkedIn’s skills tests. “If you have five or more skills listed on your LinkedIn profile, you’re 27-times more discoverable to potential employers and other members,” she said. “Also, members have gained more than 12 million skill assessment badges since we launched the feature in September 2019, and there are now more than 100 skill assessments available to them. Candidates who complete the LinkedIn skill assessment and display a badge on their profile are up to 20% more likely to get hired than those that don’t.”

Interact and network on the platform

Linkedin is a great tool, but like any tool it needs to be used properly, according to Simon Roderick, managing director of Fram Search. “You only have one chance to make a first impression, and so I’d recommend to everyone to get involved in the debates of the day, but to do it thoughtfully and respectfully. LinkedIn is a digital version of the real world. So I’d advise those keen to increase their profile to comment, network, and engage with others.”

This chimes with Davies. “You have to show up. The more you share, comment on content and conversations, and engage with your community, the more you will establish your credential and expertise on the platform,” she said.

Show your authentic self

Should people add their preferred pronouns on their LinkedIn profile? “You can do, but it’s not critical,” said Davies. “The main point is that you should bring your authentic self to LinkedIn and show up as you would in the workplace.”

Figure out what it is you want people to learn and know about you, she advised. “It’s about your level of comfort. So we encourage people to bring their whole selves to the platform, not least because it’s a support community.”