Working and talking with members I am struck by the variation in the use and understanding of LinkedIn and so I thought it might be a good to address the benefits of being on LinkedIn, why you should commit to having a strong profile and using this superb tool. This is not a ‘how to’ guide, but a ‘why to’
It is your shop front
First and foremost, so many employers do a cursory check on the internet. LinkedIn has it so locked down with Google that chances are (and depending on how unusual your name is) your LinkedIn profile, if you are active, will come up first or at least in the first few. So you can take a potential employer to your profile – backing up your already strong CV, and demonstrating that you use and understand the basic technology now required by us all. This is the ideal opportunity for you to display a strong and compelling profile that will lift you above the competition.
It is not just for job seekers
Well, not immediate job seekers only. Even if you are a long way from wanting to move positions now is the time to jump on, develop a profile and really start to understand not only where you might like to work but with whom and doing what. Following companies and connecting with people in suitable companies now makes an approach down the line all the easier.
Work that profile
if you are clear on what you want to do next then make sure you include keywords in your profile; search engines (including LinkedIn’s own one) will seek you out and offer you suggested positions and connections based purely on what you have put on there. So put in Fraud Investigator, Lion Tamer, Investigator a few times through your profile – do not go for overkill but work it into your summary and role descriptions.
I often speak to people who feel anxious about the safety of LinkedIn (and the internet generally) I am clear that this observation is often used as an excuse to not commit to something that requires a strong learning curve so will move swiftly on and accept it, in this instance, as a genuine concern.
The internet is out there and is not going away anytime soon so you may as well embrace it. You could probably be found by anyone determined to find you fairly easily so why not be on there presenting your image as you want it.
In any case, on LinkedIn no addresses or truly personal details are needed (please ignore the suggestion of leaving your date of birth or whether you are married!) and you can offer as few or as many personal details as you wish.
The chances are very low that anyone negative would seek you out and annoy you (they would have to be on LinkedIn too) and you are missing the opportunity of being seen by the majority of good sorts often more than happy to help you along the way.
Which brings me neatly to …..
Give and thou shall receive
Some people join LinkedIn and then wait for something to happen for them. This is a tool and nothing more, a service that can only come to life with the help of a human. Often they say ‘I joined LinkedIn but nothing has happened’ well no it will not without some help from you, reaching out and connecting with people. Which is the point of this section; give if you want to receive. Get on groups and join in, offer opinions and suggestions and they will come back to you tenfold. Sadly there are some disappointing people that will take and take and ask for more but give nothing in return. Invariably what happens to them is they are frozen out and fewer people will help them not more.
Use your tool kit
LinkedIn has some amazing tools to help you, learn about them and use them. Things like a compelling headline (use all the characters but I strongly advise against – ‘Looking for opportunities’ which sends out a potentially negative message); little tweaks like tag lines for a website, the addition of engaging apps all bring a profile to life. The list goes on and as this is not a ‘how to’ I will move swiftly on. Customise your personal URL and use it on letters and emails so people can easily check you out.
Build that network
Connect with people, by all means be discerning but if you like what someone has said on a group perhaps drop them a note and connect. You really never know where exposure to them and their network might lead (and if you find you do not really like them after all disconnecting is a discreet button press away). Connect with people who are connected to your connections. Oh, you get the idea, if they are in a world you understand or one you want to understand, then jump on in.
Do speak up at the back
Join groups that you feel will engage and inform you (again easy to leave if you wish to). Do join in and speak as this is good for building your profile and letting people know who you are. Follow companies that interest you and engage at every opportunity.
LinkedIn is an amazing platform that has had a lot of investment put into it in the last few years so it will grow and grow it seems. It is not ‘Facebook’ social; it is there first and foremost for business so if you are thinking of changing jobs anytime in your lifetime why would you not be on there? It really is ‘business media’ and increasingly a place for you to proactively engage in job seeking.
And if you are on LinkedIn please do connect with me and of course if you want help on getting a profile that works we might be just the support you need.
If you are on the regular PiPS membership then think about joining – tentatively at first by all means. Come and join in the chat on the Police into Private Sector Group.
Angela Hackett on behalf of the PiPS team