Developing a strong personal brand online has been vital for career advancement for at least a decade. The events of the past year, however, have exponentially increased the impact of your online profile. You are now competing with a global talent pool full of qualified candidates. Like corporations, individuals must build and maintain a brand that aligns past experiences, future expectations, and core areas of expertise in order to stand apart from the competition.

If you’re in the midst of a job search, you’re likely relying heavily on LinkedIn. The professional network can be one of your most powerful tools for building brand equity — if you use it to your advantage. At Cochran, Cochran & Yale, we offer career advocacy support to top candidates that can help you make the most out of your personal branding. Use these tips to improve your personal brand on LinkedIn, and if you’d like to connect with a recruiter who will advocate for your best career move, reach out to us. It’s free and confidential.

How to Improve Your LinkedIn Presence for 2022

Let’s examine how you can optimize your brand through the world’s most popular professional networking site, LinkedIn:

  1. Log in often and open your InMails. Here’s what most jobseekers don’t know. InMail messages are a finite resource. They’re expensive. Recruiters can see how many other recruiters have sent you messages and whether you’ve replied. If you’re seriously looking for work, open those InMails. When a legitimate recruiter sees that other recruiters’ messages to you have been ignored, they will be less likely to risk a valuable InMail on you, even if you look like a good candidate.
  2. Make your LinkedIn a living document: As of August 2021, there were about 774 million LinkedIn users worldwide, 310 million of whom were active each month. Recognize that building an online presence doesn’t just require you to create a profile – you must also actively manage, maintain, and grow your online presence over time. Just like your resume, it’s important to keep your LinkedIn profile updated with your current position, description of responsibilities, and any professional recognition, at a bare minimum.
  3. Use keywords related to your future role: Recruiters don’t typically search for job titles, as the nature of the company and the responsibilities of the role can vary widely. Rather than optimizing your profile for the role you aspire to, highlight the unique blend of skills and proficiencies you will bring to your next job.
  4. Share professional proof: So many job seekers fill out the headline, about section, and experience and call it a day. Those elements are essential, but they’re limited to your own claims about yourself. To add legitimacy to your claims, max out your skills section. Then ask friends, relatives, past colleagues, and professional connections to endorse your skills and/or leave you a recommendation. Earn LinkedIn Skill Assessment badges for skills that will be valuable to employers. If your work has generated media like analytics reports, press coverage, editorial bylines, creative pieces, or video, add those assets to your experience section.
  5. Actively use groups: Whatever your professional priorities, there is a group for everything. You’ll be amazed at the volume of valuable career resources and supportive insights people are generously sharing in LinkedIn groups. This is also a tremendous way to find new people to connect with and a place for your posts to gain visibility. If you’ve got something of value to share, share it in a group!
  6. Continue to build your network — employed or not: Like networking events, LinkedIn is a platform to not only foster existing relationships but also to make new connections and expand your professional reach. Have you managed to build and maintain a network of followers, peers, trusted advisers, and influencers? If not, spend some time going through your Outlook directory – or Rolodex – to make sure you’re connected to all of your key contacts. As an added bonus, when you add a new contact to your LinkedIn network, you gain limited access to their connections, furthering your reach.
  7. Add to the conversation: Once you’ve created an accurate, focused LinkedIn profile and sent all your connection requests, create content to distinguish yourself as an active participant in your space. Professionals across all industries and levels are using LinkedIn as a personal platform to share passion projects, innovative ideas, and industry updates. Don’t just like posts; add comments that add value. Be generous in sharing your professional perspective. When sharing a link, add a comment and 3 relevant hashtags.
  8. Don’t be obscure: Jargon has its place, but be very careful using niche terminology — especially acronyms. If there’s any question as to whether every potential employer will instantly know what an acronym stands for, spell it out. Also, use numbers to quantify achievements where you can.
  9. Imitate success: As you continue to build and maintain your brand, examine leaders that you admire within your industry space. What, specifically, is it about these top-performing professionals that sets them apart in your mind, and how can you capture and re-create those differentiators in your own branding? Don’t copy; emulate.

For more specific tips on optimizing your personal brand on LinkedIn, or to discuss general brand management tips, connect with a recruiter by submitting your resume here.