You’re ready to start your job search and know that the next step involves updating your LinkedIn.
Your current company is a bit like a helicopter parent, with a social media policy to match. Depending on where you work, you might have basic restrictions on what you can share on LinkedIn, or strict limitations that allow you to list little information on your profile. Translation: You can’t share by what percentage you’ve grown overall sales, or how you attracted new partnerships, or the crazy amount of resources you saved by creating a new workflow for your team. And that’s a problem if you’re hoping to attract recruiters and get poached.
If your company doesn’t let you use LinkedIn “correctly,” with guidelines limiting you to just your job title, employment dates, and not much else; you’re not as restricted as you think. Most of the time it’s a blanket policy created to prevent employees from inadvertently misrepresenting their work or it’s revealing confidential information.
The good news here is that you can make yourself searchable for recruiters on LinkedIn without revealing anything you’re not supposed to.
1. Flesh Out Everything That You’re Allowed To
So you’re not allowed to talk about what you’re currently doing, but I’ll bet you once had a job that wasn’t so strict about what you shared. That means you still have the opportunity to share your skills, just in a different spot than you intended.
Here’s how: Think about what you currently do and look for instances in which you performed similar duties in that previous role, then go ahead and include those details in your older job descriptions if they’re not already listed. This way, you’re still nailing keywords that relate to the skills you use every day (and likely those you’d need for future positions).
And if you’ve always held jobs that don’t allow you to share your duties publicly, utilize your summary to talk about your experiences. Go against the grain of simply outlining how you got where you are and where you want to go by discussing your favorite parts of what you do. It’s an excellent way to pin down important keywords and express your passion in a single move.
If that’s not an option, you can apply the same logic to your “Projects,” “Education,” and “Volunteer” experiences sections—just pop a brief outline about what you did into the description for each experience.
Last, if you’re stuck wanting to highlight a skill that doesn’t relate to your previous experience, you can “Interests” section as a last resort. The best part about using your Interests section to tell the story is that instead of merely outlining personal interests like yoga or golf (like everyone else) you’ll come off as genuinely passionate about what you do.
The real trick is to get creative about every entry in your profile that wouldn’t upset your company’s HR department.
2. Get Active
You might think that your profile’s ranking is based solely on the content it holds and its keyword-richness, but you’d be wrong. While there’s no question that having the right language on your profile screams “Look at me!” to LinkedIn’s algorithms, social signals also affect your chances of showing up in search results.
So, if you’re looking for a way to improve your profile’s visibility in both search results and within your network’s feed, without touching the content of your profile, start sharing, liking, and commenting!
To stand out, be strategic with your activity. To maximize your social signals, ask yourself:
- What topics do I want to be seen as a thought leader on?
- How does this action reflect my talents/expertise?
- Which expertise items and content will be interesting for my network?
Some people psyche themselves out of sharing because they think it has to be serious nuggets of wisdom all the time. And while you want your posts to show off your thought leadership, you can share “crowd pleaser” content (think: productivity hacks, inspirational stories, and quotes) as a way of staying on the radar of LinkedIn’s bots. A good rule of thumb is one crowd pleaser post for every two or three shares that speak to your professional wheelhouse.
While these posts don’t say anything about your current role, they do speak volumes about your interests.
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3. Link to External Platforms
Maybe you can’t share your awesomeness on LinkedIn, but you can demonstrate it on other platforms and then link out. Yes, it’s doubtful that your policy says you can’t include details on your profile, but tweeting is OK; however, you can use links to other platforms as a workaround. That’s because most people use LinkedIn to tell what they do, and if you create a strong presence elsewhere (like a personal website), you can show it.
For example, let’s say you can’t discuss the clients you create killer content for. But you probably can fill your website with engaging prose that shows off what a talented writer you are. Or, you can’t share insider details about the product you recently helped develop, but you can craft a blog post that shares the ups, downs, and blindspots involved in the general process. Sync your profile to outside platforms by including hyperlinks within “Contact Information,” “Advice for Contacting,” or even within your “Project” section.
Including these external links serves a dual purpose: They help search engines determine the popularity or importance of your profile, increasing the chance that you’ll be found by recruiters, and they also allow you to connect visitors with platforms where you have room to tell a bigger story.
Constraints can seem like the last thing you’d want when you’re working to create a good LinkedIn profile, but believe it or not, they can actually act as a benefit—enhancing your creativity. So take a good look at your company’s social media policy and focus on the things you can do while following it to the letter. You’ll develop a profile that not only ranks high on LinkedIn, but also stands apart from your competition
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