In the world of online research, your LinkedIn profile is more important than your business card these days. Are you one of the many government contractors that only update your LinkedIn profile when you change jobs? If so, there’s a chance you’re missing out on opportunities.
There’s a lot of contract turnover in the government contracting world these days. Your current job may be done by a different company in the not so distant future. In many cases, that doesn’t mean you will lose the job, only that the company listed on your badge will change.
Your current company is probably encouraging you to not talk to competitors. Being loyal is important. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep your LinkedIn profile updated. Just in case.
Because, they’re looking for you.
The other companies bidding on the contract – that could potentially win – are looking on LinkedIn for the people that will fill out the rest of their team should they win. They are looking for strategic hires with insight into a new client – both contractor and government employees.
A great LinkedIn profile could lead to:
- New career opportunities
- Potential teaming partners
- Consulting gigs
- Service requests
- Network growth
- Speaking requests
So how do you position yourself to be in the right place at the right time when the right offer is going to be made?
By tailoring your LinkedIn profile to two criteria. First, lots of keywords that someone looking for a person with your experience would type in. Second, compelling reasons to believe you are an expert in your job when they view your profile.
To be findable and compelling on LinkedIn, implement these 8 easy tips:
Update your LinkedIn profile regularly.
Add new work you’ve done, update the numbers you listed in your experience if they changed, add certifications as you attain them, and use key words. An empty LinkedIn experience section is off-putting. When people land on your profile, they want to know who you are and what experience you have. If they see only job titles, they can’t decide if you are worth contacting and will skip over you. This is especially true of Government civilians we research, but is a frequent bad habit of contractors.
Ditch the unprofessional profile picture.
This isn’t Facebook or Twitter. People on LinkedIn are looking at you for business reasons. Make sure your profile picture reflects how you want people to perceive you professionally.
Put Keywords in your Headline.
These are the most important 120 characters of your profile. They are the reason people click on you or skip you. Make your headline compelling to your target audience. Don’t know your target audience? Check out other people with experience similar to yours. See what makes their profile attractive or unattractive to you. Generally, people looking for you include recruiters for follow on contracts, companies looking for expert consultants, or potential teammates for your company on future contracts.
Optimize the summary section.
Lots of folks have a very text dense summary or no summary at all. This is the first place people look when they land on your profile, so think of it as the reason they should keep reading. Include attention grabbing sentences. One tool I’ve seen people use is to be specific about what they want the reader to do, such as contact them for specific services, call them to learn more, visit their website, or attend a networking event.
Tailor your job title.
If your company uses Associate, Technician, or other generic terms to describe positions, change it up and be more specific. For example, if you are a Technician within your company, but the Widget Manufacturing Process Lead in functional role, include both. This gives you more key words to rank for and helps people that land on your profile quickly determine your experience.
Be specific on your experience.
Give concrete examples of what you did using keywords you want to rank for. Also, assume the person reading your profile does not know all the jargon and lingo – steer towards commonly used terminology to describe the work you do. If your Aunt Edna wouldn’t understand it, you may not be clear enough to recruiters.
Use the Professional Gallery.
People love pictures and power points and LinkedIn gave us a great place to put these. Put together a quick slide deck that highlights your best projects – use lots of pictures and images, and make it easy to read.
Give recommendations so you get recommendations.
Social proof shows you can do what you say. A lack of social proof may cause people to think that you’re full of air. The best way to get a recommendation is to give them to others.
There are a million more things you can do to improve your LinkedIn profile, but these are a start. What other elements do you think are important and often overlooked?