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Laid Off? How To Update Your LinkedIn Profile To Stand Out From The Herd

Hayden Field  |  May 15, 2020

As the ripple effects of COVID-19 spread far and wide, one niche result is a shift in the way we use LinkedIn.

From March 2019 to March 2020, LinkedIn reported a 55% increase year-over-year in conversations on the platform — including reacting, commenting, res-haring and replying to comments on posts — as people reconnect with their networks and share advice for navigating a new working environment. People are sharing more, too — for the same period, there’s been a 60% increase year-over-year in content creation, with video proving to be fastest-growing type of content on the platform.

But Coronavirus hasn’t changed the way we network, since we’ve digitally building resumes for years now. It has, however, accelerated the shift “from shine to substance” in terms of what most people view as important, says Karen Leland, author of The Brand Mapping Strategy: Design, Build, and Accelerate Your Brand. It’s not just about being flashy anymore, she says; it’s about showing how you did something and provided value rather than simply talking a big game. Here’s everything you need to know to make your LinkedIn profile rock in 2020, and get hired in a role you love. 

Treat Your LinkedIn Profile As A Resource Rather Than A Resume

Think of your profile first as a resource to your audience — it “should be focused more on your audience than it is on you,” says Viveka von Rosen, LinkedIn speaker and author of LinkedIn Marketing: An Hour a Day. It’s a mindset shift that could help you tap into resources you can share that could be valuable to your audience. Focus on communicating who you help with your product, service or expertise — and how. This could come in the form of client testimonials, references to companies you’ve helped in the past on specific projects, a detailed explanation of your specialties or free resources and information (an e-book, online course, complimentary first consultation, etc.). 

READ MORE: How To Nail A Zoom Job Interview

In the “Experience” section, many users just give a recitation of their work — a title and one-liner description of each job — but a key strategy for amping up your profile is to show, rather than tell, what you did by offering engaging examples, says Leland. For example, you could say you’re a “marketing director responsible for communications and campaign development,” or you could say you’re a “marketing director who increased sales by 35% year-over-year, with three successful media campaigns resulting in 10,000 unique impressions.” 

Refocus Your “About” Section

In 2020, an eye-catching “About” section starts with an engaging first sentence. That’s because the content is naturally cut off after two lines, unless others click “see more.” It’s a good idea to start your LinkedIn profile with a “call to read, something that grabs your audience or your buyer’s attention,” says von Rosen, or something that addresses their biggest pain point. Think about the question people ask you the most — for example, a marketing expert may often hear, “What is a personal brand, and do I really need one?” and reference that point in the first part of your “About” section. Anyone interested in the answer to that question will likely opt to “see more,” says Leland. 

READ MORE: Your Dream Company Lists “No Available Jobs”? No Problem, You Can Get Hired Anyway

It’s important to reframe the section as “show-oriented, not tell-oriented,” says Leland. Move away from a generic recitation of where you’ve worked; instead, reach beyond that to describe your years of experience in the field, international experience and specific projects or metrics, as well as degrees, awards, honors and certificates. If you’ve been interviewed in the media or given public speeches, include that in your LinkedIn profile; if you’ve written content elsewhere online, link to it. “You’d be shocked how many people leave that stuff out of their ‘About,’” says Leland. 

Connect with others — genuinely  

In the age of COVID-19, everyone’s hungry for human connection, and LinkedIn aficionados like von Rosen are receiving more network requests than ever. She says that customizing a request is vital when it comes to upping your chances of acceptance. Look at the other person’s profile to find a commonality between you — maybe related to the school they went to, their work experience, the authors they follow, their most recent post — and add that into your note. “Sometimes that takes a little sleuthing,” says von Rosen, “but in the long run you’re just going to have a higher acceptance rate and a higher-quality network.” 

READ MORE: How To Speed Up Your Job Search And Make Yourself More Marketable 

Now’s the time to expand that network, says Leland, who suggests sending one request per weekday: “five minutes a day, five days a week.” Pro tip: If you’re requesting to connect with someone via smartphone instead of desktop, the button will send a non-customized request by default. To get around this, click the three dots to the right of the “Connect” button, and you’ll have the option to personalize your request. 

Give your audience a holistic view of what you care about. 

These days, people look much more closely at what you’re involved in outside your career — think charities you support, nonprofits you’re part of and volunteer opportunities you’ve had. “What people are looking for right now is a much deeper, 360-degree view” of who you are,  says Leland — ”substance, not just flash.” She says she can’t count the number of people who’ve told her they connected with someone after noticing their volunteer work and the like. 

READ MORE: How To Reach Out To People You Haven’t Spoken To In Years When You Need A Job Without Looking Too Pleading, Desperate, Or Ungrateful 

Besides philanthropy, another way to share more about your interests and passions on LinkedIn profile is by sharing content, says von Rosen. Try posting a few sentences about a blog post, white paper, presentation or book you’re interested in or found value in, then aim to start a conversation. Another option: Ask a question you’ve been turning over in your own mind that you’d like people in your network to answer. Anything that gets a conversation going is a chance to start a dialogue with an old connection — or a new one. 


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