Here are our top tips for maximising LinkedIn's full potential and using it to help you secure the job you've been looking for.

In the professional sphere, LinkedIn may be the most important social media platform to help you build your career and develop important contacts. While falling under the category of ‘social media’, you’ll want to make sure to put your best professional foot forward when using LinkedIn, and treat it a little differently to your Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat accounts.

If you grasp the ability to use this online network platform effectively, it could be your gateway to advancing your career. Here are some tips on how to get the best out of LinkedIn.

Your profile

Picture. Just like if you were turning up for an interview in person, you’ll want to look the part to give a good first impression. Avoid out of focus group photos, company logos, and any picture involving late night parties. Leaving your profile without a picture is also not a good look, as prospective contacts may wonder how much more of your profile is incomplete.

Perspective. Letting your personality shine through has its limits. Prospective employers will want to know you’re a real human with interests outside of corporate spreadsheets, but what it really boils down to is the ‘return on investment’ - what’s in it for them? Make sure this point does not get overlooked.

Content. If you leave your profile incomplete, it may cause visitors and potential connections to wonder: are you unable to complete the task at hand, or did you stop out of disinterest? They may come to the conclusion that this is common behaviour for you, whether it is or not.

Summary. After your picture, this is your first impression – so leave them with an image that will last! Be clear and concise, but use this chance to hook the reader with an interesting self-introduction.

Recommendations. Recommendations can be a very powerful way of promoting yourself, so if you have them, flaunt them! But only use them if they’re the real deal, and don’t ask those you don’t know for a recommendation. If you haven’t worked together, or met on a personal level, this will not create a good impression of your credibility.

Oversharing. There is such a thing as oversharing, and some pieces of information certainly don’t belong on a professional profile. There’ll be plenty of time once you’ve settled into a new position to share details of your family situation, or financial woes. But best to leave them off, to avoid putting others off.

Brevity. Sharing too much information can be damaging. Sharing too little can be boring, or even unclear. Paying mere lip service to you career history with cursory mentions won’t do, so don’t breeze through this portion too quickly. Emphasise the skills, specialisms and lessons learnt in each of your previous roles.

Jargon. Corporate, cookie-cutter text will often read as soulless and heavy. Sometimes it is unavoidable, but try to liven up your descriptions with a touch of personality that won’t make you come across like a cog in a machine.

LinkedIn etiquette

To whom it may concern. No one likes to feel as though they are on the receiving end of a template, or mass email that could be written to anyone, from anyone. At least use their name when contacting them, and try to include any details relevant to your relationship with them, such as where and when you may have met in person.

Lying. Naturally, people do not like to be deceived, and those trying to stretch the truth risk damaging their reputation when they are caught out. If you can’t back up certain statements with evidence, it might be best not to say them.

Spying. ‘I saw you viewed my profile’. LinkedIn may alert you to users who have viewed your profile, but this information should be used wisely! While taking the initiative is commonly seen as a positive in many of life’s situations, this may be the exception. If this person has chosen not to make contact with you, there could be a number of reasons why. But if you did not appear to meet their needs, imposing on them will only heighten this impression.

Silence. Forgetting to follow up with new connections is not a great idea. Letting the trail go cold on a new connection may severely damage your chances of forging a strong working relationship with them. Relationships of all kinds take time and effort to build, so why not strike while the iron is hot?

SPAM. Prioritising quantity over quality when networking, and broadcasting the same message to everyone to see who it sticks with is typically viewed as desperate, and like you don’t have a clear direction.

Inactivity. Visitors to your profile can see just how active you have been recently. If it appears you have not been active for a significant amount of time, it may prevent contacts reaching out, as they may not expect you to see the message. Get in the habit of posting updates regularly to let them know you are still active.

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