By Alan Collins
LinkedIn recently went over 300 million active users.
And in my view, that makes it the #1 online career advancement tool for HR professionals.
Nothing else even comes close.
Estimates of professional participation in LinkedIn range as high as 83%. So it's the place to be if you're in any profession, but especially if you're in HR.
But if you're like a few HR folks, you may be making four very simple, but costly mistakes in using it.
Here they are...
1. You're not findable.
Recruiters and headhunters get paid big bucks to find HR talent. And all of them use LinkedIn as their #1 source.
But you frustrate the crap out them by making it impossible for them to get in touch with you.
If you are active in the job market and they can't find your phone number or email address on your profile, you are making their life a living hell.
They're not mind readers. They like things simple, easy, and fast.
So get smart. Get your email address, at a minimum, into your LinkedIn profile. And preferably your cell phone number too.
It can be as simple as adding the following to the last line of your Profile Summary: I welcome inquiries at firstname.lastname@example.org or 555-333-1248.
If you want to remove this info once you've landed the HR job of your dreams, that's fine. But in the meantime, make it easy for executive search pros to reach you so that they can help deliver it to you.
2. Your Profile Summary is too dense.
Dense paragraphs of 4 lines or longer are tough to skim in a LinkedIn Summary.
Remember, you are writing for the Web, not providing a detailed performance review to your boss.
Instead of creating a lengthy description or bio on your Summary, simply do this...Break up those large paragraphs!
I recently made this change in my own profile and I'm very pleased with the results.
Shorter, easy-to-consume sentences draw in more readers, especially those with tiny attention spans.
Here's a great example I pulled from another HR profile to illustrate this idea:
As Employee Benefits Director with six years experience at three major hospital systems, I've:
-Led the restructuring of health care, retirement and wellness programs that delivered $7.5M in annual savings.
-Helped increase 401(k) plan enrollments by 9.75% through aggressive education efforts.
-Contributed to a reduction of 32% in the response time of third-party employee benefit providers.
-Scored 94% positive on the “quality, effectiveness and timeliness of HR support” provided to clients on my last three 360 results.
In the above summary, this human resources director, who specializes in Employee Benefits, concisely outlines the scope of her authority and her experience.
And, more importantly, she uses bullet points to break up her key accomplishments which enables busy people who are scanning her page to quickly see what what she's all about -- and that's the idea.
With that said, let's move on.
3. Your profile has job titles, but no story.
A bare-boned LinkedIn profile with just your past job titles does you no good and creates missed opportunities for you every day.
An incomplete profile like this doesn't tell anyone anything other than you've had some jobs.
It doesn't tell them what you can do.
So today, right now, go back and flesh out a story for each of the jobs on your profile.
By this I mean, along with those jobs you've listed, include a description of the results you achieved in the past. Three to four sentences for each job is ideal.
And, yes, quantify those accomplishments where possible. Numbers, not words speak volumes and help sell your value.
You want your profile to grab people by the throat and clearly let them know why you're remarkable and worthy of being in their network, contacted or referred.
4. You have only a handful of contacts.
I recently came across an experienced HR VP's profile page with just three contacts.
You don't need to have 500+ contacts, but if you have just a handful, many (not all) executive recruiters will assume that you're lazy, out-of-touch, or a technophobe and will wonder deep down if you understand the importance of building relationships and networking. Obviously that's not the kind of first impression you want to leave as an HR pro.
So, show them that you've gotten with the program and can connect with other professionals online.
Let's now summarize.
In a nutshell...
These are four common mistakes made on LinkedIn.
But they are also the most COSTLY...and EASIEST to correct!
So go get these four items taken care of right now, if you haven't already.
Don't wait until you're on the prowl for your next HR gig to address these two simple issues.
It may be too late then.
Each day you neglect to make these simple corrections is a day in which you are getting overlooked for job leads, consulting opportunities, speaking engagements and important career contacts...any of which could lead to that ONE phenomenal HR job you've always aspired to have.
So take a few minutes this weekend to make these changes in your profile.
I believe you'll be glad you did.