To help women leverage LinkedIn for higher visibility and career growth, this month, I will share tips for enhancing your presence on this website, along with LinkedIn research reports related to gender.
First, ensure you have a profile on LinkedIn. Yes, it’s a social media site, but it’s not like the others. LinkedIn is only used for professional purposes. If you’re serious about your career, you need to be there. Opportunities can’t find you if people can’t find you.
Second, use LinkedIn consistently over time, not only when you are seeking a new job. The old saying to “dig your well before you’re thirsty” says it all. This platform can help you build visibility and grow your network throughout your career. Create a profile and check it on a regular basis to ensure it’s up to date. Even if you are out of the workforce for an extended period of time, you should still attend to your profile. You can read more about this point in a previous post.
Third, LinkedIn works on data. The more information you give it, the smarter it gets, and the better it will work for you. In 2017, LinkedIn’s first economic graph report found an interesting discovery.
“One team analyzed whether male and female graduates of top-ten MBA programs from 2011-2016 promoted themselves equally on their LinkedIn profiles. The team discovered that women and men were comparable in the number of skills and honors they included on their profiles, but that women were less likely than men to include job descriptions or summaries.”
To get the most out of LinkedIn, you need to complete the About/Summary section. This is an important area for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). It’s also the best place to showcase yourself in an authentic way. This is one of the few sections without a set format, so you can be more creative with content. It’s a great place to describe what makes you different from others with similar qualifications, to share qualities that have been true throughout your entire career, and to explain why you are passionate about what you do. You should also consider sharing key career accomplishments here, along with the types of problems you enjoy solving. You may share personal information such as athletic pursuits, hobbies, or volunteer activities if they have some professional relevance. However, I suggest steering away from anything too personal, such as your marital status, your familial status, or health issues. Sharing this type of private information could get you screened out of potential opportunities.
Below are additional ways to help your profile be found on LinkedIn:
- Customize your LinkedIn URL. To find out more about this, read my previous post on the topic.
- Include a profile picture. LinkedIn states that your profile is 21 times more likely to be viewed if you have one. Make sure it is in focus and doesn’t include anyone else. It can be from the neck up and should be taken by someone else. I would caution against trying to look sexy unless this is part of your brand.
- Fill in your experience section with relevant past jobs, volunteer experiences, and short-term projects.
- Have a minimum of 50 1st degree connections, which is necessary for the algorithms to work well.
- In the Skills section, share at least ten skills, and make sure that the three most important are at the top. Ask friends and colleagues to validate those leading three skills, so they have the highest number of endorsements.
- Make sure you use the right keywords for your field and ensure they are mentioned in your Headline, About/Summary, and Skills sections. This previous post shares tips on creating a powerful headline.
Other ways women can leverage LinkedIn to develop their careers:
- Join LinkedIn groups to expand your network and learn about industry trends.
- Write a LinkedIn blog post to increase your credibility and visibility.
- Utilize LinkedIn to research and identify people you want to get to know.
- Add media to your Featured section to showcase your work. This could include PDFs, videos, or links to publications where your name has been mentioned.
If you seek more data on women and how they use LinkedIn, check out the links below. In 2019, LinkedIn published two interesting research reports related to gender and LinkedIn:
One focused on how words have a different effect on men and women.
Another report highlighted the contrast between women and men and how they find jobs on LinkedIn. It included these thought-provoking results:
“The data shows that when recruiters are searching for candidates and they see a list of men and women, they tend to open men’s LinkedIn profiles more frequently. However, after recruiters review a candidate’s profile, they find women to be as qualified as men and reach out to both genders at a similar rate… The good news is that when women do apply to a job, they are 16% more likely than men to get hired. In fact, if the role is more senior than their current position, that number goes up to 18%.”