It's the start of the year, which means it is time to start putting yourself back out there to find new work opportunities. Whether we like it or not, social networking has become an essential part of promoting ourselves and finding work in this day and age.
I can tell you of massive corporate businesses that now have entire teams dedicated to scouring LinkedIn to find the best talent out there to continue the growth of their organisations. With that, if you’re not putting some effort into how you present yourself online, you’re not only missing opportunities that may be suitable to you, you’re literally passing them across to the next person on the list.
What is required to make your profile work?
Let me give you an example. Imagine that I was setting up my LinkedIn profile and I simply listed it as Lawrence Akers– Recruiter. What questions would you have to qualify if I was the right recruiters for you?
Obviously, you would want to know what kind of recruitment I specialise in to determine if I have an understanding of your industry as a first step. You would want to see something like ‘Creative Recruiter’ or ‘Design Industry Specialist Recruiter’ or something along those lines.
The Design Industry is quite a large industry though and made up of many industry sectors, and so you would hope that I would specify my niche area of expertise even more; ‘Corporate Creative Recruiter’ or ‘In House Creative Recruiter’. This doesn’t necessarily need to be in my title but certainly within the body of my profile, there would need to be a clear explanation as to why my niche area is.
The 'niche area' is really the vital part of the equation here. If you have read my previous blogs, you'll find that I often talk about your point of difference and what it is that you do that sets you apart from your competition. These points should make up your profile.
Let me give you another example; if you ask most recruiters, they will tell you that there is often some part of any brief that they get which often proves to be 'the challenging point'. This is the part of the brief that makes it a little bit harder for them to fill the role. To be honest, these are often points that shouldn't be that hard; finding a Community Manager with crisis management experience and finding a Presentation Specialist with Keynote experience are two recent examples that come to mind. A quick chat with your recruitment consultant around what these kind of problem points are within your niche area could see your profile get far more hits overnight.
What should you avoid in your profile?
You should definitely avoid the temptation to inflate your title or omit information because you don't feel it honestly reflects the work you've been doing.
For example, if you've become a freelance Graphic Designer, include the work Freelance in your profile title. Why? Because that is going to be one of the keywords people will search on. Consider this; if someone was looking to find someone to do a short term assignment, how are they going to differentiate you from someone who is full time employed vs someone who is a professional freelancer? They're not going to bring up every Graphic Designer they know and then work through each profile; that's far too time consuming. They're going to use keywords to identify the creatives they need to look at.
If you run your own small business, the temptation will be there to call yourself 'Owner' or 'Creative Director'. If you're offering a graphic design service, how is this going to help people find you? We need to be realistic too; if you're a small one man show, are you really in a position to call yourself a 'Creative Director' or 'Senior Designer' when you've been doing it for three years? It's great to know where you're going and to sound like 'you've made it' but if your profile isn't generating work for you, then how is that working out for you? The whole point of the profile isn't to inflate your ego, it is to generate revenue and to profile what you have to offer.
If you happen to leave a position and you're currently freelancing between opportunities, list that as what you're currently offering. There is no shame to be had in being a professional freelancer and it will mean people won't be under the impression that you're still at your previous employer and unavailable.
How do I fix my profile?
If you are serious about turning your profile into something that can help clients and employers find you and generate revenue, then set aside some time to do some research and to update your profile.
There are plenty of online tutorials in Youtube that cover what the latest features within each social media platform are and how you can utilise them to be more easily found. Given that it is a professional networking site, LinkedIn is going to be the obvious and essential one.
Next, think back over your career, starting with the most recent work that you've done and consider what skills you had to show in order to successfully achieve a result. Consider breaking the job down step by step and consider what steps are going to be mandatory for each job and which everyone out there would do, and what steps are going to require a little bit more of a niche. While you'll want to ensure ALL of your skills are documented on your profile, you'll also want to ensure that you have those niche ones to make it easier to be found. Consider also using different ways of describing that niche through out your profile. Why? Because you don't know how others are going to describe what they're looking for and so you need to make sure you can think outside the box as much as possible to come up with phrases and terms that you feel reflect how others may perceive it.
What if I don't want to use social media?
If you don't want to use social media, that's absolutely your choice. There are some people out there who are actually that talented and blessed, they seem to have opportunities constantly fall into their laps and good luck to them. There are others who are adamant that they will not connect with recruiters although this is almost an inevitable situation on professional sites. This is, of course, entirely their decision and their right to choose although I would ask them to consider why this is. When you connect with a recruiter, you're basically increasing your chances of being offered work as suitable opportunities come in. Your decision not to may often seem to be attached to a couple of lines of thought; either the 'I don't want anyone's help to find work', the 'I don't believe recruiters offer any value' or the 'I don't earn as much when I'm working through a recruiter'.
If you work with the wrong recruiter, then yes, you may find that they don't offer any real value. Again, I've written some blogs on this topic in the past. If your belief is that you don't want anyone's help to find you work, perhaps consider how this belief is going to assist you in years to come and why you feel that accepting assistance in being offered opportunities would be a bad thing. If your belief is that you earn more working directly than through a recruiter, you're right – however it is a job that you may not have been offered otherwise and there isn't any precedent that every job you do must be through a recruiter. As I've said to people in the past, juggling between your own direct work and agency work can be financially very beneficial. The game is this; to open up as many channels as possible to find work. Some are going to be good and some are not. We're all in the same industry so chances are we're all going to be busy at the same time and go quiet at the same time. However, this is where your niche comes into play; build and focus on that so that, even during quiet times, you become the 'go to' person for that area of expertise.
Of course, if you have any thoughts, questions or simply would like to get in touch with me and offer up a topic for the next Ask Lawrence, you can contact me on email@example.com or you can find me and connect with me on LinkedIn. You can check out more jobs by going to our website or you can search for them on Twitter via #CRJOBS.
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