9. Read Job Specs

Reading jobs specs is the quickest way to find out what potential employers or clients want… and yet nobody does it. Get ahead of the competition with this one simple habit.

If you really want to reap rewards from LinkedIn, this is one habit you would do well to adopt. Reading job specifications for positions in your field is the single fastest way to find out what prospective employers want, and thus which elements of your skills and experience you should present most prominently.

As I write this, I’m thinking back to a conversation I had recently with Peter – one of my esteemed colleagues here at CV Succeed/PSS/CVC. Peter is the ‘face’ of CV Succeed – every one of our clients speaks to him before the rest of us ever hear about them. On this occasion, he was making the point that one of the most important conversations he has with clients is about the purpose of their LinkedIn profile.

Most people assume that their LinkedIn Profile is designed to tell potential employers about all the wonderful things they can do. We disagree.

What your LinkedIn profile should be doing is demonstrating that you’ve done your research and found out what they want… and you have a whole raft of skills and experience in precisely those areas.

See the difference?

Ideally, you would seek out job specs for the types of jobs you’re interested in applying for next (even if you’re not intending to move in the immediate future), and look at what the majority of employers are searching for.
As someone who routinely reads job specs for all sorts of industries and professions, there are some obvious examples that spring to mind – The caring professions, for example, are typically far more interested in your experience and temperament than your qualifications. So long as you have the minimum required qualifications to legally undertake the role, you’ll make yourself far more attractive to health and social care employers by outlining how your attitude and range of experience makes you a good candidate.

If you’re a programmer, able to code effectively in dozens of languages, it’s tempting to list all of them so potential employers can see how dynamic you are. A brief perusal of a few job specs, however, might highlight that the vast majority of employers/clients are only interested in (for example) Perl, Python and PHP. By all means explain that you’re fluent in 25 programming languages, but make sure the examples you provide are the ones they want!

This process is also worthwhile for freelancers – Have a look at job specs for in-house positions which mirror your work, and use that information to position yourself as the solution to potential clients’ problems. You can also look at which industries are hiring a lot of people in your profession – You may well benefit from viewing these industries as a source of future clients.

For instance, if the predicted move towards privatisation in the UK healthcare industry comes to pass, healthcare companies will most likely start hiring writers, graphic designers and marketers, as they’ll need to promote themselves. Being aware of these trends as they happen will enable you to get in early, and hopefully pick up some long-term clients.

Simply put, job specs are an easy (and free) way to canvass the demand in your area of expertise. Take advantage of this method and you’ll immediately have a leg up on your competition.

10. LinkedIn Is Not Your CV

Repeat after me: “LinkedIn is not my CV, LinkedIn is not my CV, LinkedIn is not my CV…”

This is probably the most common mistake I see in LinkedIn profiles. The option is there to simply upload your CV, edit your profile for formatting, and leave it at that.

Don’t do this.

By all means utilise the functionality – It saves a bit of time, particularly if LinkedIn is able to determine the names and dates of all your academic and work experience. But don’t kid yourself that this will be enough to get you results.

For one thing, LinkedIn is public, whereas your CV is not. If you read through your CV right now, you’ll probably realise that some of the information you’ve provided is not suitable for public display. If in doubt, it’s worth checking with your employer to ensure they are happy for you to include certain information in your public profile.

And there’s a second element to the public issue: at least in the early stages, most people would prefer not to alert their employer to the fact they’re job-hunting. LinkedIn gives you the option of hiding certain things from your profile (your membership to job-search groups, for example), as well as turning off activity broadcasts, which would inform your connections of changes made to your profile. Bear in mind, however, that all activity in open groups is publicly available – If you’re really paranoid that your boss will discover your intentions, stick to closed groups that require approval to join.

More than that, though, whilst your CV should be tailored to specific jobs, LinkedIn is much more about people and relationships. With that in mind, it makes sense to use a more casual voice when writing the content for your profile – Leave the hard selling for your CV.

The real advantage of a LinkedIn profile is the flexibility it provides over and above what you can do with your CV. You can, for instance, include publications, clickable links, personally identifiable recommendations from colleagues and clients, and so on. You’ve also got a ‘Skills & Endorsements’ section, in which you can list your primary areas of expertise – This is one of several ways in which potential connections can find you.

Finally, I’d like to address my biggest pet peeve where LinkedIn is concerned: Updates.

Your CV is a document which can (and should) be finished, in that it must be fully completed before being submitted to an employer. Your LinkedIn profile, by contrast, should be constantly evolving.

If I visit your LinkedIn profile, and it’s clear that there’s been no activity in the past year, how can I know that the information is still relevant?

Perhaps you’ve just submitted a job application, and your CV contains more recent information than your LinkedIn profile. How’s that going to look to your potential future employer when they look you up, or follow the link you provide don your CV? It’s common practice now for employers to ‘Google’ job applicants, and you don’t want the result of that search to be negative.

On that note, by the way, I strongly suggest you set your personal social media profiles (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to private – Employers don’t need to know what you get up to in your spare time.

Simply put, the only way to get strong results from LinkedIn is to use it as the networking tool it was designed to be, and that means treating it as an entirely separate entity to your CV.

Keep it up to date.

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