(But how Facebook and I still don't get on!)
I never was much of a social media user.
I’m not now. In fact, whilst I do have a Facebook account, if you message me you get a message that tells you to come and find me on LinkedIn!
I still have - what I consider to be - a healthy dose of suspicion.
I believe it's all my dad's fault. Who, whenever as a kid I wanted to send in for a competition or a ‘free’ gift, told me that it was all a ploy by ‘the Man’ to catch me out. Put me in ‘the system’. I would be on a ‘list’ somewhere. I would be known. And forever I would be haunted by leaflets and offers. A frightening prospect for any 8 year old!
Move on 40 years, and our lives are online.
There is no escape. In 1,000 years time everyone will wonder what happened to the people from the early 2000s, whose digital life by then will have completely disappeared. The new dark ages.
And, of course, to an extent my dad was right. More of our information is online and known to others than ever! With all the dangers that go with that. But being online and able to connect with lots of people across the world has so many advantages as well!
So how did I get started?
I started using LinkedIn in 2008.
Not because I wanted to. But because - whenever I googled myself (not a daily occurrence, I can assure you!) - a LinkedIn profile would be top of the page. And it was completely wrong! It had done its spider-thing and collected random information about me from here, there and everywhere!
I reckon that’s how it all began. By giving you the wrong information. On which you have to act.
I didn’t use LinkedIn again until - probably - around 2012. When my then employer warned us that under no circumstances we were to talk about the projects we were working on. Top secret, dontyaknow! Which is when I severely cut back any information that potential employers might think of interest.
It wasn’t until 2018 that I started using LinkedIn in earnest. And this is what I’ve learned since then:
For you to be ‘found’ by recruiters you are well advised to have a LinkedIn account
LinkedIn is now a very important source of information about job candidates. Recruiters routinely look at your LinkedIn profile and are actively searching for candidates on LinkedIn. You can indicate what jobs you are interested in, if you’re actively looking for a job and actively reach out to recruiters or hiring managers.
Your job title is important. This is what recruiters will be searching on
So it’s no good to say that you are ‘available for new opportunities’. No one will find you. No one will contact you. It is better to state what your job title is. Or, if you want to move fields or industries, what you WANT your job title to be!
You can be quite elaborate here too! You don’t just have to say ‘Coach’ or ‘Project Manager’. It can say what you want it to say (within certain limits).
Having said that, my cynical self will now tell you that - since people have caught on to this - you will find yourself hard pushed to find anyone with a normal job title, as people have now gone completely overboard and call themselves ‘Chief Neuroticism Officer’ or ‘Happy in life and love’!
Like many a Gen X-er I now find myself shouting ‘Can someone please tell me what anyone DOES for a living!’.
LinkedIn is NOT your CV
See, I'm incredibly nosy. So when I connect with someone I will go on their LinkedIn profile and have a nose around. What they've studied. What job they're doing now. What they've done before. What else they're telling me (in their About section).
How the hell someone who is so obviously creative, and arty, and full of energy and bubbly-ness, has come to be an accountant, or an auditor. (No offence to any people who genuinely love these professions. Good on you! I love that you love your job. But if you don't and secretly want to do something arty instead, I say: you are wasting your life. And: call me now!)
And I've got to tell you, after reading all these About sections I've developed one allergy. A real pet hate.
Because, whilst ‘with demonstrable experience of working in the so-and-so industry’ is possibly acceptable language in a CV, on LinkedIn (or anywhere really) no one speaks like that!
The About section is all about you. Who you are. What you are absolutely brilliant at. What you love doing - professionally, I mean. And how you get result for your current and future employer or customers.
Your ‘About’ section is is where you sparkle! Not where you speak CV-gobbledygook!
Someone will want to read your LinkedIn profile and more specifically your About section and be absolutely crystal clear about what you have to offer and who are. Having read your 'About' section you want them to pick up the phone or send you a message now if not before!
And finally, like, comment and share is not as scary as it looks!
I was one of those people. Who never did anything on LinkedIn. Never wrote anything. Never commented or ‘liked’ things. Never shared anything.
And I see lots and lots of people doing the same. Or rather, I don’t see them. They may read posts, but you’d never know it.
It appears that the threshold to using LinkedIn is high. It’s scary. People - you - are afraid of exposing yourself. Of online abuse. Of trolls.
But mainly you are scared of what other people might think.
Will they make fun of you? Expose you as the fraud you think you are (and there's a whole lot of stuff to unpick right there!)?
Well, if it makes it any easier for you: the chances of your post being seen are slim.
LinkedIn has this algorithm. No one knows how it works. And unless lots of people comment, like or share your post in the first couple of hours after you hit ‘Post’ it will just drift into nothing-ness.
There is neither rhyme nor reason to what does well and what flops on LInkedIn.
I’ve written posts without too much thinking that somehow managed to rack up tens of thousands of views, and some days my post views don’t rise above three hundred.
Some days I write a well-thought through post - two hundred views. Other days I post a picture of my new office chair - well over two thousand!
My message here is:
Don’t be afraid of what people think.
You are sharing your knowledge and expertise and your thoughts. What’s the worse that can happen?
And also, the cons are massively outweighed by the pros.
Did you know that around 70% of jobs don’t make it onto job boards? That they never get advertised, because they are being filled informally, via networking?
Which means that networking is your go-to strategy when it comes to making connections, showing your expertise, reaching out.
You do this with likes, shares and comments. And yes, with your own content. About the topics that you know about. Or are passionate about.
And it’s not scary. Once you’re over the first hurdle you’ll find that ‘your’ people will come and find you. That there is a whole supportive community on LinkedIn. I’ve connected with lots of people - online and in person - through LinkedIn!
So there you have it.
From a complete digital dinosaur to someone who - hesitantly at first - is now fully enjoying what LinkedIn can do.
And wants you to enjoy the same benefits!
But please, let’s not start talking about Facebook! Give me a decade or two and I might start understanding that too. For now we are not really on speaking terms.
Tineke Tammes is an ICF credentialed Career Coach, who supports professional women in making successful transitions to careers of Freedom, Flexibility and Fulfilment! Besides that she is also a lifelong feminist, part-time portrait artist, never-only-read-one-book-at-any-time reader, and obsessive doodler. Oh, and she knows a bit about change management too.
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