As a contractor, you’re probably often looking for new work. You can send your CV to a number of contracts you’ve seen advertised online, but it can be even easier than that by using LinkedIn. LinkedIn can save you a lot of time as recruiters/employers have the opportunity to come to you with their vacancies, rather than you having to go to them. There are many benefits to using LinkedIn:
• Extensive network of clients and prospects
• Recruiters actively search your LinkedIn profile and use it to decide your relevance for jobs
• Provides a platform to show off your skills and experience
• Many recruiters now post contract vacancies using LinkedIn
• Provides a low-maintenance means of keeping potential contract sources warm
• Gives you access to roles which aren’t even advertised online
However if you haven’t used LinkedIn before, or are unsure about how to best update your profile, then it can all seem a bit daunting. Luckily we’ve put together these 6 simple steps for you on how to improve your LinkedIn profile:
1. Sign Up
First of all, if you haven’t already signed up, do it! It’s a really quick process – all you need is an email address. Once you are signed up, remember to log in regularly so that you can gradually build up the prominence of your profile, and check groups, messages, and invitations to connect. Even if you are currently in the middle of a contract, it’s best to keep your LinkedIn profile maintained for future opportunities.
2. Upload a Profile Photo
We’re in the era now where it is the norm to use a profile photo on your LinkedIn page – if you don’t use a profile photo you are less likely to be noticed by recruiters. Make sure you use a professional photo and not a photo taken by a cheap camera, and please no selfies or photos where you’ve clearly cropped yourself out of a group. Also, try look happy in your photo because others like working with happy people.
3. Upload Your Information
Putting your information onto your LinkedIn profile is a very easy task – you basically just take the information from your CV and insert it into the relevant sections. You will still have to send your CV to recruiters in some cases, so make sure the information on your CV and LinkedIn profile is the same as recruiters may look at both and realise if you’re lying about something!
On the right-hand side of LinkedIn there is a Profile Strength meter – the strength of your profile will increase with the more content you add. There are 5 levels to profile strength: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, Expert, and All-Star. Ideally you want to have an All-Star profile – for this you need: your industry and location, an up-to-date current position with a description, two past positions, education, a minimum of 3 skills, a profile photo and 50+ connections. This will make your profile complete – those with complete profiles are 40 times more likely to receive opportunities because complete profiles rank higher in LinkedIn’s search results. Although a ‘complete’ LinkedIn profile needs only 2 past positions, it’s best to put as many as possible and be specific about the details; since your LinkedIn profile is not tailored to a specific job, you never know what might impress a recruiter/employer. Also, if you have any gaps in your employment, explain them – some recruiters use unexplained gaps to eliminate you for opportunities, so it is best to explain them whether it be taking a sabbatical, returning to education or tending to a family situation.
There are a few extra things you can do with the information on your LinkedIn profile to make it even better:
• Keywords – LinkedIn works by keyword searches so use keywords that are relevant to your line of work in all parts of your profile – in particular the headline, summary and skills
• Write the information in Word first and spellcheck it – one silly spelling error can lose you your chance of being selected for an interview
• Emphasise the achievements you made on previous projects
• Endorsements – when you complete a project, ask clients/colleagues to endorse your work
• Professional Portfolio – this allows you to visually show examples of your work
• Websites – add these to your profile if you own one
4. Connect with People
Try get at least 50 connections – the more connections you have, the more chance you have of ranking higher when a recruiter searches for your job title/skill. There are loads of people you can connect with: current/past colleagues, current/past employers, friends, family, alumni. When connecting with old colleagues, send them a message with an update about what you’ve been up to – an old connection can lead to a recommendation for new contract work.
5. Privacy Settings – Make Your Profile Public
Firstly, make your full profile public – by making it public you can be easily found by search engines as LinkedIn profiles rank high in Google. A public profile means anyone can see it, which means recruiters and potential employers can see all your skills and experience. There are no specific privacy settings on LinkedIn i.e. having different information shown on your profile to different users, so you cannot tailor your LinkedIn profile like you can with a CV – therefore stick to the facts. Also, make sure that you make it so others can see that you’ve viewed their profile – if you’re browsing recruitment agents/HR managers they will know that you are interested in the people behind the companies, instead of just the brands.
6. Join Groups
Join any relevant groups – there are hundreds of skills-specific groups, as well as general contracting and freelance groups. They allow you to keep up with what’s going on, and also allow you to participate so you can show off your skills, achievements and knowledge.
We hope these simple steps help you with improving your LinkedIn profile. We have our own LinkedIn company page here so please visit and follow us. ICS offers a variety of accountancy and administration services, therefore if you are in need of/are looking for a new contractor accountant, then please contact us by chatting to us online or calling us on 0800 195 3750.