Your LinkedIn profile, like your resume, isn't one-size-fits all. What your profile looks like will be different depending on where you are in your career and what your goals are for the platform. Sometimes you may even need to get across multiple things at once, like continuing to grow in your current job while simultaneously putting out feelers for a new one. Here are some different scenarios we’ve encountered and how to deal with them. Choose the ones that feel most like you, and read on!
Scenario 1: You are looking for a new job.
LinkedIn is a great tool for job seekers, both because it offers tons of job postings (with an effective algorithm for personalizing recommendations) and because you can use it to actively cultivate your network. To make your LinkedIn job search most effective, your profile will need to appeal to recruiters and hiring managers, and it'll need to use strong keywords if you're applying for jobs through the platform. One thing you need to do is make sure you are getting across your passion for the types of jobs you are excited about. If you are a branded content producer trying to stay in branded content, this should be pretty easy – tell the story of what you do, list your accomplishments, and state your passion for the job.
But if you’re looking for a switch, you may be trying to cater to multiple sets of eyeballs. In some cases, you can simply write in your headline or summary that you are looking for a transition and eager to meet people in that line of work. But sometimes it gets trickier. For example, we work with many clients who are trying to transition into a new side of the industry, or into a new industry altogether, but don’t want their current employers or clients to find out. This is completely understandable, but it means you'll have to be a bit more strategic about how you'll catch the attention of hiring managers and contacts in the new field. If possible, try to include some interests that cross reference the new type of role in your summary. You can also make sure you are highlighting the most transferable skills in your current job.
If you’re afraid that your experience will be too confusing to the hiring manager, you could also take a more bare-bones approach with your profile and not give too many details in each section. You can also try to highlight things that make you unique – volunteer work or major accomplishments that may or may not have to do as much with your work history. Make sure to include relevant skills in the skills section, so you'll be considered a "match" for open roles. Your current employer isn't going to balk (or likely notice) if you list skills that aren't important to your current role, but a potential future employer will take these skills into account when reviewing your profile.
Scenario 2: You are trying to grow in your current job/career path.
If this is the case for you, your goal for your LinkedIn profile should be to try to build your network and make a name for yourself in your field. As far as the sections of your profile go, think about who you work with and what they’d probably want to know about you (often things that you talk about in general meetings or over networking drinks). You probably have a pretty good sense of the skills that are most relevant to your job, and you should highlight projects that you’re proud of or are notable, including links to your work, if applicable. In addition, you can spend time establishing yourself as more of a thought leader in the field by sharing relevant articles or headlines, or even blogging through the platform. You should also highlight speaking engagements or exciting opportunities you’ve been able to take part in. Lean into your voice and POV, and follow and actively engage with peers and companies you care about. The more visibility you get, the more connections you’ll make, and as we all know, success in Hollywood is all about your network.
Scenario 3: You work in two different sides of the industry (or two industries) and are seeking jobs in both areas.
This is a common scenario we see among our clients. The best advice we have here is that you need to be honest about your career trajectory! There's nothing wrong with having strong skillsets in multiple areas -- in fact, it can make you a huge asset to a company. Instead of worrying, think about what your unique perspective and expertise can offer a potential employer. LinkedIn is a great place for you to expound on your capabilities beyond your resume, so you can use your profile to showcase all the ways your dual paths inform your expertise.
That said, if you’re leaning more toward one side of your expertise than the other for your next role (think: one is more of a backup plan), try to place more emphasis on it in your summary and showcase the skills you use for that role the most. Secondarily, you would highlight how your other work supports your primary goal. Be honest with yourself about how open you are to the backup path, and make sure your profile serves your real goals.
Scenario 4: You own a business and are trying to sell your services OR you are a freelancer looking for new clients.
Many people use their LinkedIn profiles to generate new business – at Hollywood Resumes, we sure do (feel free to follow us there)! But there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about this. Your personal profile -- as opposed to your business page -- is about you and why you do the work you do. Explain what you do, why you’re passionate about your work, how you got your expertise, and what informs your approach to customers or clients. Keep a conversational tone, and encourage others to connect. You can share samples of your work through the platform as well, but save the more sales-y copy for your website. Just remember your audience; LinkedIn is about people trying to connect with people, and you want to make yourself seems like an approachable human that people will want to partner with.
Scenario 5: You are an artist/creator open to creative opportunities.
Similar to those who are trying to grow in their current career paths, artists will want to tell the story of what they do and why they are passionate about it on their LinkedIn profiles. It’s a great idea to showcase your most recent projects (or all your projects), and if you work in a visual medium, feel free to link to clips of your work. But one other thing to keep in mind is that those hiring artists (especially writers and directors) are looking for someone who has a unique POV and creative vision. Authenticity is also a big consideration when looking for creatives. So make sure you get across who you are as a person outside of work – what’s your personal backstory; what experiences have shaped the way you think and feel; what are your greatest passions; who has inspired you? The list goes on.
Scenario 6: You are a student or very recent grad entering the workforce.
For students, LinkedIn often isn’t a priority, as you’ve probably been a lot more focused on your coursework and activities rather than thinking about the job search. You don’t need to include tons of information on your LinkedIn profile if you are a student, but it is a good idea to add internships in the experience section and express any personal or professional interests in your summary. We’d recommend using LinkedIn as a way to build your network and start generating connections early on, so when you’re ready to look for a job, you’ll have a nice roster of people that can help you with referrals as you find opportunities that interest you. And you can also use LinkedIn as a research tool to identify career paths or companies of interest. As you grow in your professional career, you may want to lose some of your student work, so be sure to revisit your profile after you've held a few roles post-graduation.
Scenario 7: You have a limited work history and are trying to re-enter the workforce.
We frequently work with clients who have significant gaps on their resume and want to go back to work – often these are moms whose kids are finally old enough for them to go back to work, or people who have other life circumstances that prevented them from working full-time. That's okay! You're allowed to be human. Once again, the best rule of thumb here is to be honest! LinkedIn is the perfect place to explain your personal situation in your own words; in fact, it’s much easier to get this information across here than it is on your resume. This is also your chance to explain why you want to get back into the workforce and what experiences you’ve had in your life that will bring a unique perspective to your work. We find that nontraditional candidates are often the most hireable because of how much passion, grit, and drive they bring to the workforce. If this sounds like you, own your story!
No matter what your unique situation is, the most important thing to remember is that LinkedIn is a social networking tool, and you can use it to get new clients, build your reputation, find work, or anything else you can think of. Craft your sections in a way that encourages people to want to connect with you or follow you, and if you have time, curate content on your feed that will keep these people engaged with you!
-- Angela Silak and Cindy Kaplan