LinkedIn may be the ticket to your dream job.

For recruiters and job hunters alike, LinkedIn is a vital tool. Over 500 million people in over 200 countries are using it, making it the world's leading professional online network. We've got some helpful hints and tips to ensure you present yourself well and maximise the job-hunting opportunities it presents.

Building your LinkedIn profile

The headline is arguably the most important part of your profile, as this is what recruiters see if you appear in a search. Make sure you give them a reason to click through to your full profile! Think about your USP, your area of expertise, your industry and your job title. You don't get much space, so it will need to be snappy.

The summary section enables you to present your main selling points in a bit more detail. Use the opportunity to show off what you can bring to a company. It's fine to let a bit of your personality shine through here – networking on LinkedIn is less formal than a CV, and you want to make yourself seem human, approachable and memorable.

It's important to fill out the skills section as fully as possible, as recruiters are able to search for candidates on LinkedIn by relevant skills. Scan some job adverts to see what skills are most in demand in your target roles and pick others from your CV so that the list contains as many keywords as possible. By giving skill endorsements to others in your network, you will generate reciprocal endorsements for your own profile, which will strengthen it in the eyes of recruiters and potential employers.

Use the experience section to explain not only the basic responsibilities of each of your roles but also what you achieved in each job. Adding achievements will take your profile to the next level by showing the value you can add to a business.

The level of detail required in the education section will decrease as your career progresses, but a degree or higher qualification will always be looked on favourably. If you've completed any additional training, ensure you include this in the certifications or courses section, as continuous professional development shows that your knowledge is up to date.

The photo you choose should be a headshot against a plain background. Unlike other online networks, a family photo or one taken on a night out don't quite hit the right note on LinkedIn. If your photo presents you as you'd be walking into an interview, you're on the right lines.

Other sections will vary depending on your role, but complete as many as possible – awards in particular are useful to include as they are evidence that other people think you can do your job well.

Above all, any time you change roles or complete a new qualification, make sure you add it to your LinkedIn profile as well as your CV.

Leveraging social media networking

Now that you've built a strong profile, you're ready to start networking. One of the main purposes of LinkedIn is to build a professional network, which is key to accessing information about vacancies and companies. Aim to connect with your past and present colleagues and anyone else you've built a professional relationship with offline.

You can also use the search facility to find colleagues or import your email contacts; LinkedIn recommends people you may know, as well. If you want to link with someone you've never met, make sure you tailor the connection request rather than simply using the standard wording provided by LinkedIn.

You can also expand your network by joining and contributing to groups relating to your industry or your area of expertise. This will enable you to position yourself as an expert in your field and get your name known. By staying involved in group discussions and following your newsfeed, you will also ensure that you are up to date with industry changes and trends.

Consider posting new content regularly – news updates and relevant links not only boost your online presence but also ensure that you're the first person your contacts think about when they hear of a suitable vacancy.

Job hunting on LinkedIn

The next step is to get actively job hunting. Ensure that your settings are configured to show recruiters that you're available and tailor your vacancy preferences to the type of roles you're looking for (you can do this under the Career Interests tab). Use your job recommendations and the search function to find appropriate vacancies in your field.

Consider also mentioning your availability in your summary section if you're not currently employed, with a call to action to encourage recruiters to contact you. If you find a vacancy of interest, you can even apply for it via LinkedIn.

You can also follow company pages, which will ensure that you hear about vacancies as they arise and help you stay in touch with their news in the meantime.

If you build a strong enough profile, you may even find yourself getting headhunted!

Modern recruitment

A LinkedIn profile has many benefits, including opportunities to access advertised vacancies, network, build an online presence and get noticed by recruiters. It's certainly worth investing in building a compelling profile as recruitment and job hunting moves increasingly online.

Your CV should be as strong as your LinkedIn profile. Get a free CV critique to see how yours stacks up!

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