Everyone wants to connect with HR professionals on LinkedIn. Recruiters, benefits managers, CHROs, trainers and generalists receive invitations to connect practically every day. But when a potential employee, hiring manager or colleague checks out your profile, will they be impressed or underwhelmed?
“If you’re in HR, you’re a professional ambassador of the company you work for,” said Marie Artim, vice president of talent acquisition at Enterprise Holdings in St. Louis. “You are the front-line presence of the organization and need to present yourself on LinkedIn in the best possible light.”
At Schulte Building Systems in Hockley, Texas, Vice President of HR Paula Harvey said she offers classes to her sales teams and executives on how to write their LinkedIn profiles. She covers what works, what doesn’t and what to include.
“LinkedIn is your business card on the Web,” said Harvey, who is also on the board of directors for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). “For internal leaders, you must give off a strong positive image of the company that supports recruiting efforts and attracts people to want to come to work for you.”
Added Jeff Luttrell, global vice president of talent acquisition at Atento in Asheville, N.C., “LinkedIn profiles are a critical part of the search process by executive and professional recruiters. A thorough and engaging profile can make you stand out.”
Mistakes to Avoid
HR professionals often are too humble when creating their LinkedIn profiles, which means they leave out their top accomplishments and most impressive business results.
“The most common mistake made by any professional is using your LinkedIn profile as a copy and paste of your job description. I often find HR professionals quite guilty of this mistake,” said Shelly Azen, owner of unHR, an HR consulting and search firm in Bryn Mawr, Pa. “Instead, your LinkedIn profile should highlight your professional successes, expertise and professional interests.”
Harvey encouraged LinkedIn users to focus on business accomplishments.
“It’s not Facebook or Instagram. It’s not for the friends and buddies you hang out with. These are work colleagues and others who need to see you in a professional light advertising your personal brand,” she said. “Use only business language and carefully check grammar and spelling, because those mistakes are a big turnoff. Also, many people have a very incomplete profile. Avoid doing this. Instead, fill out the entire profile, including work experience details, certifications, education, volunteer work and skills.”
Finally, Harvey warned, “Be very careful about any posts you make. Don’t bash past employers.”
Another common error is omitting or glossing over skills or experience that others may find interesting. “Don’t skip a role, thinking it’s not relevant,” Artim said. “A job you had showing your soft life skills, such as work done in college, volunteerism and community service, do matter. You may think they aren’t professional enough, yet as the employer, we see a lot of valuable competencies.”
Improving Your HR Profile
A LinkedIn profile is a tool HR professionals should leverage regardless of their role, Azen said. “Not only can you connect with peers and co-workers, but you can also follow specific companies, thought leaders in your profession and workgroups of specific industries that are of interest to you,” she said. “This allows any professional to stay abreast of emerging trends, up-to-date articles, important employee or hiring issues, and upcoming seminars while staying connected to individuals.”
Luttrell said that displaying your authentic self in your profile is key, as is making sure all of your information is accurate, because recruiters often will verify what you have posted.
“Be strategic when telling your story in the LinkedIn headline, about section and work experience section, and make sure you differentiate yourself as you do that,” Artim said. “Use sound bites to outline your strengths and accomplishments and add results that show the impact you’ve made on the company’s business. That will resonate with employers.”
Harvey suggested taking care in choosing a photo, as well. “The way you look on LinkedIn is important, so a good picture is essential. Use a headshot that shows your smiling face and isn’t a cutout or one with anyone else in it.”
Tips for Each Section of Your LinkedIn Profile
Headline: LinkedIn’s search algorithms heavily weight your profile headline and job titles. By default, your current job title will show as your headline. State the title you have now (or a better description, if your current title is awkward), or use the title you want if you are unemployed. Be specific, using standard titles that are typically found on a jobs search site. In the headline, also note the industry you are interested in, plus any specialties or key certifications you possess. The proper way to list these is to use a vertical line between the keyword phrases. For example:
Thomas Hillmire, SHRM-SCP l HR Employee Relations l Human Resources Program Manager l HR experience in health care and education
Job titles: State the most accurate name for what you do to clarify for readers if your formal title isn’t clear. For example, “HR III” might be the internal title, but “benefits specialist” is your actual work, so you would want to use that instead.
Work experience: Do not describe the company you work for or use long, generic job descriptions. Instead, focus on what you have done that was valuable to the organization. Add measurable results and a few accomplishments. For example, distinguish how you reduced costs, created something new, added to revenue, enhanced productivity, or made any process, system or organizational improvements.
Use action words: Start each sentence with an action verb like directed, created, drove, headed, implemented, etc. Here is a great formula to use as you develop your sentences: actions = results. Specify what your actions were and conclude with the results that were achieved.
Keywords: You must use the right keywords if you want LinkedIn to be an effective tool for you. Research current job openings you seek and note the critical skills and experience the employers want. Identify essential job tasks, too, then pepper keywords related to these three subjects throughout your profile—don’t just cram them into a few sentences.
About section: LinkedIn recommends that the About section be written in first person and in a way that portrays your personality. Think of it as if you were networking in person and what you might say about yourself. Discuss why you like your field or job, what kind of work you do, what you think you are good at and the type of work tasks you enjoy. Keep it all genuine and authentic.
Recommendations: These mini references are powerfully effective. Ask former bosses, clients and colleagues to write one about you. When you make the request, offer a few sentences on what you would like them to write, which makes it easier for your connection and increases the probability they will do it.
Finally, proofread carefully before you post your content.
Robin Ryan is the bestselling author of the interview book 60 Seconds & You’re Hired (Penguin Books, 2016), along with seven other books. She has appeared on TV and radio shows more than 3,000 times, including ones hosted by Oprah and Dr. Phil. Ryan provides career counseling services to clients nationwide, including resume writing, interview coaching and LinkedIn profile writing services. Sign up for her free career newsletter at RobinRyan.com.