LinkedIn Doesn’t Mean You’re Job Searching
Because I have frequently advocated using LinkedIn as part of your job search planning, you might be surprised at the heading of this post. After all, a robust online presence is essential to being found by potential employers, and LinkedIn is recognized as a key element of building and maintaining that robust presence. Right? Certainly, but that is not the whole story. LinkedIn does–or should–help you build and communicate your brand to employers; however, it also can–and often should–reflect the corporate brand of the companies you have worked for. So what possibilities does that open up?
Personal vs Corporate Brand on LinkedIn
One of my esteemed colleagues, Deb Dib, recently wrote an item in the Reach Branding newsletter (published by branding guru William Arruda) that brought out strongly what the relationship can be between your personal brand and your employer’s brand. In the short article, titled “Ditch. Dare. Do! for YOU,” she firmly maintains that “when you build your brand you are building your company. Your brand reinforces and enhances corporate brand attributes; it helps you make a mark on your organization, augment your company’s image and reputation, and increase your visibility and presence with all stakeholders (inside and outside the walls of your organization). In fact, if you’re not building your brand, you’re not doing your job!”
What does this mean to you and how you represent yourself on LinkedIn? If you’re conducting a highly confidential job search, you might focus on maintaining a more or less neutral tone in communicating your value to prospective employers, to avoid sending an overt message that says, “Hey, I’m job searching here, Mr. Current Employer.”
At the same time, you do want to get that message across somehow and don’t want to be so subtle about it that your target market doesn’t catch the message. One way to help do that is to match your personal value with what you have enabled your current employer to achieve through your contributions, in terms of presenting the company’s value and successes strongly to its target markets.
Here’s a quick example–something you might put under the brief introduction to your current position in the Experience section of your LinkedIn profile: “Planned and executed launch of new energy-saving product that enabled ABC Company to break into a competitive market and quickly increase its market share from 0% to 25%.”
You’ve given a nod to your company’s market success while also giving yourself credit for an outstanding accomplishment. Of course, you could do more than that. You could include some wording in the Summary section of your profile that references the company you currently work for and puts it in a nicely positive light. That might be of interest to people who are searching for companies that do what your employer does and does well.
The only important point to remember in that case is that you will need to change that section when you change employers, so it reflects your new employer and not the former one.
LinkedIn As an Ongoing Job Search Tool
Having said the above, I want to emphasize that LinkedIn’s value as an ongoing job search tool remains strong today, despite the many changes that have been initiated in recent months. It’s important that nearly every job seeker (active at the moment or not) makes sure he or she is well represented on LinkedIn. Your perceived value to employers must form a key element of that representation.
If you don’t already have a compelling, well-organized LinkedIn profile, you really should be giving serious attention to it. Whether you take care of it yourself, have a friend or colleague do it, or hire someone else to do it for you, you owe it to yourself to make it happen.