LinkedIn recently overhauled its desktop site to offer a streamlined experience, complete with better search functions, more relevant results, and new features that make it easier for contractors to connect with recruiters. With a staggering 64% of candidates hired through a referral, LinkedIn channels the power and ease of online networking, providing its users with an optimal environment for referral-driven recruitment.
Optimising your contractor profile on LinkedIn
According to data published by LinkedIn, recruiters use the platform’s powerful search feature to find contractors for specific roles. In order to make sure your profile is optimised for recruitment searches, do your research. By clicking on ‘Advanced’ beside the search bar, contractors can find specific professionals, companies and jobs related to their field of interest. This should give you a good indication of the keywords and phrases to incorporate into your profile to ensure the content is targeted towards the right recruitment searches.
Your LinkedIn Headline: Pay particular attention to your headline. This is the first thing that other LinkedIn users will see, and it will also affect your ranking in recruitment searches. Your headline should clearly and concisely communicate your value to the employer with relevant information, such as your job title, industry, location and years of experience.
LinkedIn Jobs: LinkedIn will recommend specific jobs to you based on your current information. Contractors can self-identify via the preferences page in the Jobs tab by selecting ‘Contractor’ from the drop-down options. According to LinkedIn, candidates who self-identify as contractors are three times more likely to respond to recruiters, with 40% responding within one day. Contractors should also take the time to fill out the optional ‘job preferences’ to get better-tailored job listings, especially if they work in a niche market or work remotely, as LinkedIn recommends jobs based on criteria such as location.
New ‘Open Candidates’ Feature: LinkedIn’s Open Candidates feature is currently being used by more than 10 million members. The feature allows members to privately notify recruiters that they are interested in being contacted about new roles, without announcing this publicly on their profile. Recruiters now have access to a new contract filter via LinkedIn’s Recruiter platform, allowing them to narrow their searches to target candidates based on their job preferences or profile history, while the open candidates feature lets recruiters know that contractors, or even prospective contractors, are open to new opportunities.
Summary & Specialties: Use this area to neatly summarise your professional story, including your background, expertise, successes and business goals. You can also include the accomplishments and projects you’re most proud of and a short list of your strongest skills. LinkedIn’s search engine scans this content for key skills and attributes, and so might a potential recruiter. Use keywords that relate to both your industry and general contracting such as: “contractor,” “contract,” “independent consultant”, along with job types and skills.
Visual appeal: In addition to getting the content right, make sure you consider the visual impact of your profile. It’s easy to create a professional looking headshot with your phone camera, while many people don’t realise you can change LinkedIn’s custom blue background to reflect your services and the contracting sector you work within.
Increasing your connections on LinkedIn
By increasing your connections, you increase the likelihood of appearing higher up in recruitment searches. LinkedIn favours results from close connections. This means that if the person undertaking the search is connected to someone in your network, you will appear higher up the results list than an equally qualified person who is outside the searcher’s network.
Connect & Follow: Enter your email address to sync your contacts with LinkedIn. You can use the ‘My Network’ section to get back in touch with old colleagues and anyone else who might be worth having in your professional network. You can also follow relevant companies on LinkedIn so that their news and jobs will come up in your news feed.
Introduction and recommendations: In much the same way that Facebook allows your connections to introduce you to other people, LinkedIn users can introduce their colleagues and clients in order to strengthen their network. Your connections can also write recommendations for your profile and endorse you for specific skills. This feature can provide powerful testaments for prospective clients and recruitment agencies.
Join groups and contribute: A great way to meet and connect with new professionals is to join groups based on your professional industry. You can participate in discussions and publish articles that highlight your professional expertise. Joining groups can also be a great way of learning about industry events where you can take the opportunity to network in person.
Update your status: Similar to Facebook’s ‘What’s on your mind?’ contractors can update their LinkedIn status with relevant up-to-the-minute information. This could be a note to let people know that you’re attending a conference or an important industry event. As contractors come to the end of one assignment, updating your LinkedIn status can be a particularly useful way of letting your connections know your future plans, for example: ‘Looking for new contracts’. Updating your status also ensures that you get a mention in the weekly email update that many LinkedIn users receive. LinkedIn users are informed when a connection updates their profile, status, or when they answer a question. This provides contractors with a regular yet subtle means of keeping their profile visible and in circulation.
Guest blog by Contracting Wise