Lauren Francis, Founder and President, and Laura Back, Director of Marketing and Events, of Mulberry Talent Partners, sat down earlier this month to discuss social media and LinkedIn basics for job seekers as part of their Career Conversation webinar series. Check out the highlights of their conversation below.

Managing Your Online Presence

Social media is an important consideration for any job seeker or career professional. A 2018 Career Builder study of 1,012 hiring managers showed that 70% of employers perform a Google search of job candidate names when screening applicants and 57% made the decision to not hire a candidate based on what they discovered in their internet search. Reasons for not hiring a candidate included divisive or discriminatory comments, posting too much online, or talking negatively about an employer.

While some job seekers may think it’s in their best interest to disengage and delete all social media, the same study found that 47% of hiring managers were less likely to hire a candidate if they couldn’t find the individual online. To help make it easier for hiring managers to find you online, Lauren strongly suggests job seekers include the link to their LinkedIn account on their resume.

“The hiring manager can find your professionally curated LinkedIn profile, that provides them with all of the information you want them to know, so they aren’t going on a Google hunt for you,” said Laura.

Some simple things job seekers can do to ensure they have a positive online presence is to check their privacy settings regularly to see what is and isn’t visible to the public, Google your name to see what kind of results hiring managers might find, keep posts on social media professional and cordial, avoiding divisive topics, negative talk about employers and photos with alcohol. Having a strong online presence can be a powerful tool, just make sure its polished and fits your personal brand.

LinkedIn Best Practices

Laura suggests all job seekers log in to LinkedIn to check their profile Strength Level. You can do this by viewing your profile and clicking the box near the top that mentions your Strength Level. Consider the actions LinkedIn suggests in order to improve the strength of your profile. A stronger profile is more likely to be attractive to hiring managers.

Other simple ways to update your LinkedIn profile include updating your profile photo to a high-resolution photo that looks like you. Make sure it is a recent photo that accurately represents your current appearance. If you change your look often, you should update your profile photo accordingly.

“Hiring managers will have a picture of you in their mind and you don’t want to surprise them by not looking like your profile photo when you arrive for the interview,” said Laura.

Other tips include a photo that is only of you, without a busy background and with your face taking up 60% of the frame. You’ll also want to ensure you are dressed professionally in the photo.

“To me, this means to be dressed as you would on your first day of work,” said Laura.

The LinkedIn headline is another opportunity to stand out to hiring managers and recruiters. Instead of simply typing “seeking new opportunities” as many others do, try to be more specific about your qualifications and what kind of work you are interested in by including keywords that a recruiter would be searching for. Avoid using fluff words like “experienced,” “unique,” or “rockstar” because a recruiter isn’t going to be searching for those keywords. And instead of putting certifications in your headline, put credentials after your name so that your headline can focus on more likely to be searched terms.

“As a recruiter, you find ways to search and get closest to the candidate profile you are seeking,” added Lauren. “You want your keywords to match your brand, profile, and who you are.”

This is especially important because more employers are actively seeking job candidates, rather than passively accepting applications so your headline can play a major role in being seen.

LinkedIn also has a feature called “Open to Work” where you can identify yourself as open to new work opportunities to recruiters and hiring managers. If you are looking for work, Laura and Lauren strongly suggest you utilize this feature, but make sure you select the option “for recruiters only” so that it is only visible to recruiters.

Job seekers should also set up “job alerts” and follow companies they are interested in working for. You can update your job alerts under Settings & Privacy and then Job Seeking Preferences.

Other simple ways to optimize your profile include customizing your URL to your name, checking your profile privacy settings, writing your summary in the first person, and tailoring your listed skills to the roles you desire, without embellishing. It’s also important that your profile features recommendations from your current and past coworkers. If you don’t have any, only have a few or your recommendations are outdated, consider sending a request to appropriate connections to write a recommendation for you.

Connecting with Individuals You’d Like To Know

Lauren says first you should write out your own introduction to share with your existing connections so that you can make it easy for them to share your profile and your resume with someone else you’d like to be connected with.

Utilize your network to make connections with individuals you’ve identified as valuable in your job search. Make sure you give them at least a week to respond to your request before you circle back with a check-in message.

“Once your contact has agreed to help make a connection, ask that they not CC you in the communication with the contact so that they don’t feel burdened with having to respond,” adds Lauren.

And regardless of whether or not the contact responds, always make sure to thank your connection for taking the time to help you expand your network.

Building Your Network

Once you’ve built your network, it’s important to cultivate and nourish those connections. Make sure you follow them on LinkedIn and comment on their posts and updates.

“This is so important. You’re showing engagement, involvement, and interest,” said Lauren.

You can also create a system to check-in with your closest contacts on a quarterly or twice a year basis to get on their schedule and have a coffee Zoom meeting or brief phone call.

Make sure your profile stays up to date with new information like promotions, job or location changes, new certifications or credentials, awards, and other honors. These updates make your profile active and engaging and make you more visible to your network.

It’s also important to return the favor by writing recommendations and making introductions for those who have done the same for you.

“In months or years following, remember how you were helped and do the same,” said Lauren.

By engaging in all of these network-building activities, you can ensure you have the support and assistance of your network when you need it in your future job searches.

Interested in learning more? Watch the conversation here and follow Mulberry Talent Partners on Instagram for job search and career development advice.