As an accomplished IT professional, you know you have the experience, accomplishments and skill sets to impress any hiring manager or recruiter. In a perfect world, those are the only factors that matter when you are searching for a new career opportunity. But recent years have seen a significant paradigm shift in the market, and a wealth of tools are available to recruiters who are considering your candidacy.
In particular, hiring managers are leveraging the power of social media in the hiring process. In fact, a recent CareerBuilder survey reports that 76 percent of IT hiring managers use social networks to help screen candidates. The survey also reports that 41 percent of employers are less likely to interview a candidate if they don’t appear to have a digital footprint. These employers are looking to confirm the details of the candidate’s resume or discover aspects of their personality to see how they would fit into the work environment. Patrick Gillooly, Director of Digital Communications and Social Media at Monster, reveals that few hiring managers approach a candidate’s social profile with suspicion or doubt; however, “not having any profile could be seen as a red flag, so why give a potential employer any reason to question your candidacy?” he writes in the New York Times.
While the EEOC warns employers against discriminatory practices in the screening process, there are no regulations preventing them from using social media to screen candidates. Thus, it is imperative that professionals keep up with this growing trend, or else risk falling behind the competition. This is especially true in IT, where competition is high and the social media landscape, particularly LinkedIn, is brimming with recruiters. But how do you know what course of action is most effective? How will you know if your LinkedIn profile is hurting your IT job search? We explore the answers to these questions below.
It Starts with Your Resume
Whether you are actively or passively searching for a new IT job, your LinkedIn profile should accurately reflect your most current resume. If one contradicts the other in any way, recruiters may question your integrity or work history. However, it is important to recognize that your resume and LinkedIn profile should not be mirror images. Ideally, you are customizing your IT resume to each individual opportunity you apply for. This customized resume should emphasize the skills and responsibilities that you know a specific employer is looking for.
On the other hand, your LinkedIn profile needs to speak to every potential employer. Your resume will provide the bones of your LinkedIn profile, but your online presence is an opportunity to present more detail about your achievements, skills, awards, projects, publications, and more. A guide published by LinkedIn describes the profile as a “living resume.” They report that 75 percent of employers search for a candidate’s LinkedIn profile to learn more about their background.
In today’s marketplace, it is clear that your LinkedIn profile is an extension of your resume. If that profile does not even exist, or if it conflicts with your resume, you could definitely be hurting your IT job search.
Find Balance Between Personal and Professional
Another significant difference between your resume and your LinkedIn profile is that your online profile gives you the opportunity to show your personality. While best practices dictate that the word “I” should not be seen on your resume, your LinkedIn profile is definitely a place to explore who you are – at least, on a professional level. This includes translating the formal language of your resume into a more “authentic” tone that more accurately reflects your voice.
Furthermore, make sure you use a high-quality, well-lit photo of yourself; it should be professional but personable. LinkedIn also allows you to add a background photo, featured at the header of your profile. Many professionals choose to leave this banner space empty; others upload an image that further showcases who they are or what they do.
LinkedIn recently updated the design and layout of their entire platform, including your profile page. One of the most interesting changes to the profile is the more prominent display of articles and statuses you have published and shared. If you make a regular habit of sharing industry- or career-related articles, this gives potential employers a taste of your professional interests and aspirations.
Use the Right Keywords
LinkedIn recommends optimizing your profile by using keywords that focus on your skills. Take a look at the job descriptions you are interested in to see what verbiage is most common and identify keywords related to your experience and responsibilities. Optimize your LinkedIn profile by using these keywords in your headline, summary, specialties and experience.
Optimizing is important for two key reasons. First, LinkedIn has robust search algorithms that rank profiles in search results by keywords. They provide 120 characters in your headline, and this is definitely the place to leverage your keyword-optimized job title and summary. This is what people will see first when they run searches for candidates. The other reason to optimize your profile is that hiring managers and recruiters will skim your LinkedIn profile almost as quickly as they scan your resume; make sure your use of keywords will capture their attention instead of forcing them to dig for more information.
Using LinkedIn in the IT Job Search
At Resource 1, we make a point to stay active on LinkedIn (view our company profile here to find out more). We recruit many of our top consultants through this social network because of their active, engaging profiles that showcase their talent and accomplishments. It is clear to us that if you are searching for a new IT job, LinkedIn is essential to your job search strategy.
Another key strategy is to partner with a quality IT recruiter. We work closely with the best talent in the IT industry to match them up with cutting edge opportunities. Let us know what you are looking for today!