If you’re applying for jobs, you should consider LinkedIn as a landing page that sells … well … you. Earlier this year, LinkedIn hit the 100 million user mark, making it the fourth American social network to do so. And it’s not just the job seekers that log in — 73 of the Fortune 100 companies use LinkedIn Hiring Solutions.
In other words, expect potential employers to search for you on LinkedIn. And between applying for positions directly on LinkedIn and HR checking you out beyond your hard-copy resume, your profile could determine if you secure an interview and, ultimately, the job you want.
This is why optimizing your LinkedIn profile, like you would a product’s landing page, is important to your job hunt. Let’s see how we can apply MarketingExperiments’ research about landing page conversion to help optimize your LinkedIn profile page. To refresh your memory, we have developed the MarketingExperiments Conversion Sequence to help marketers optimize landing pages for conversion:
C = 4m + 3v + 2(i-f) – 2a ©
C = Probability of conversion
m = Motivation of user (when)
v = Clarity of the value proposition (why)
i = Incentive to take action
f = Friction elements of process
a = Anxiety about entering information
In this situation, let’s define conversion as convincing a hiring manager that you are worth an interview. And to keep this blog post at a decent length (and focused on elements of the LinkedIn page you can actually optimize), we’ll focus on optimizing your value proposition (after all, you have very little control over the actual layout of the page).
After all, LinkedIn offers many interesting applications and add-ons, but you must first focus on the heart of your profile: the value proposition. In this blog post, I will show you how to optimize your LinkedIn profile by focusing on 3 value proposition-based steps.
Step #1. Achieve Congruence
Congruence is having every element of your page either state the value proposition or support the value proposition. What does this mean for your LinkedIn profile? Lots. Specifically, your headline and summary are the two main places to state your value proposition and let it shine.
I’ll go over two actual profiles I found on LinkedIn using the keyword “SEO strategist” in the search tool. The example below wastes a great opportunity to showcase her value to potential employers with the headline. Instead, she uses the headline to state her current position; however, the position is restated just below as well.
The headline should state all that she has to offer and where she wants to go. Don’t limit yourself with a single title, you may never move past it.
The gentleman below maximizes his value proposition in the headline. He lists the most valuable skills he can bring to a job, definitely setting himself apart from the majority of LinkedIn users who simply use their current job position. Using the vertical bar character (|) to separate skills also gives the headline a nice, clean appearance.
Think of the headline as an email subject line. The goal is earn a click open, not a sale. The headline should entice prospects to open your full profile. And like the first few sentences of an email, the summary should convince them to stay and read the rest.
A value proposition is the ultimate elevator pitch. In a single, instantly credible sentence, you should articulate exactly why you should be hired over the pool of other applicants. Skip the easy sales-driven approach. Present the value you have developed in verifiable ways. Self-proclaimed titles, like “social media guru” or “WordPress king” should not appear in your summary (or anywhere else on your profile).
Your summary should answer this question: “Why should my ideal employer interview me instead of other applicants?” Think about this answer. Look at your ideal position’s job description. What qualities and skills do they ask for? If you have them, prominently present those qualities and skills to make the decision to call you for an interview easy for employers.
But if you want to really stand out, stating the skills you match is not enough. You must excel in at least one element of value.
Find what sets you apart from the competition. You may not know the individuals you’re applying against, but the LinkedIn search tool can give you valuable insight into professionals with similar career paths as yourself. Search job titles similar to the one you have and the one you want. Compare yourself to their claims and skills.
You’ll find two things: where you excel and where you need improvement. Highlight the area you excel in your summary and value proposition.
While the headline and summary best state your LinkedIn value proposition, don’t forget the other sections that should support your value proposition:
- Job descriptions
- Industry category
- The many applications available
All of these should support what you claim as your value proposition.
Step #2. Accomplish Continuity
Continuity is making certain that each step of the LinkedIn process either states or supports the value proposition.
As I mentioned in Step #1, everything on your profile should support the value proposition presented in the headline and summary. If the prospective employer read about your SEO skills in the search box, they will expect to see explanations of those skills once they click to see your full profile. If the prospective employer doesn’t immediately see the connection between what they viewed in the search box and what they find on the full profile, they could leave your profile and move on to the next one.
Focusing only on your LinkedIn profile for continuity could hurt your results. You need to look at the whole picture. Where are your profile viewers coming from? While some will come through the search tool, not all of them will.
List where you have links to your profile: personal website, blog, online portfolio, Twitter, Facebook, Google Profile, Google +, etc. Make certain that each online site you maintain a profile on that either directly or indirectly links to LinkedIn either states or supports the value proposition. A simple call-to-action can get the job done with a link to your LinkedIn profile: “If this site perked your interest in me, then learn more on LinkedIn.” While your focus should be on those that connect to LinkedIn, you should consider stating or supporting your value proposition on all sites you maintain a public profile on.
Continuity expands further than just online. An easy mistake to make is not updating all of your resumes together. If you update your hard-copy version, then you electronic ones should be updated, and vice versa. Make sure your LinkedIn and value proposition match the resume and application you’re sending to job openings.
Step #3. Attain Credibility
Credibility is making certain that every statement of value is communicated in a way that is instantly credible. There are several ways to do this using Transparent Marketing:
– Let someone else do your bragging
When you want to convey subjective information about yourself, then do so through the voice of your previous employers, colleagues or clients. LinkedIn allows connections to write recommendations. Take advantage of this great tool. Claiming you work hard or thrive in a deadline-oriented environment can’t compare to the previous employers confirming those skills or qualities. Keep in mind, though, that quantity doesn’t trump quality in this instance.
– Tell (only) the (verifiable) truth
It can be very tempting to stretch how far your job responsibilities and results really are. Helping to coordinate one aspect of an event does not equal “Planned and managed promotions event for 200 people.” Did you help with the promotions event? Yes. Did you plan and manage it solely or in its entirety? No.
Don’t inflate responsibilities or results. A hard-hitting interview question or a quick call to your former employer can verify that you’ve told the truth, or that you have lied on your LinkedIn profile and/or resume.
– Substitute general descriptions with specific facts (qualitative vs. quantitative)
General job descriptions can start to run together. Using quantitative facts can make each job and responsibility stand out. Using quantitative results in your descriptions can also portray you as a results-oriented person, a characteristic that many employers desire. This would include project ROI, budget managed, number of people managed, email clickthrough and open rates, etc.
Not This …
According to Forbes, a very common lie people make on their resumes is about technical skill levels. If a position requires proficiency in Photoshop and you say you it have when you don’t, that could come to haunt you very quickly if you secure the position. My resume lists my proficiency in multiple software programs as “beginner-level” – weakness or not, it’s the truth. And multiple interviewers have commented on how refreshing is to see someone truthfully give their skill level.
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