The job search world has changed if you are 50 or over.
Once upon a time you could buy the daily broadsheet newspaper (from the newsagent or paperboy…remember them?), go to the employment section, circle suitable jobs with your biro, type out (or handwrite) your application, and be invited for interviews.
A job offer would follow shortly thereafter.
Fast forward several decades and we have social media, online applications, and LinkedIn…and it’s far more difficult and challenging to get a job.
If you are in your 50’s and looking for a new job, you really have no choice other than to get up-to-date and ensure you have a LinkedIn profile.
Not only have a profile, but also ensure that you are active on LinkedIn as well.
LinkedIn falls into the realm of social media; however, it is business-focused and allows you to:
- Build an online presence to showcase your professional brand (Think of it like your own professional website).
- Be found by recruiters (over 90% use LinkedIn to find candidates for jobs).
- Apply for jobs (generally more senior professional and managerial level roles).
- Facilitate your networking, which is still the number 1 way of finding a new job.
Let’s take point 4 a step further. If you ‘connect’ with someone on LinkedIn, they become a ‘1st degree connection’.
For people you don’t know, but your 1st degree connections do, they are 2nd degree connections.
So, you have a conduit or channel to this expanded, 2nd degree network via your 1st degree connections.
This gives your networking far more focus and purpose. Be warned however; only connect with people you know, or who are in a position to refer you, otherwise this functionality does not work!
Let’s say you want to work for a certain company. You search for them on LinkedIn, go to their company page and then see how you are ‘connected’ to that organisation via people you know (You at least want 2nd degree connections in that organisation).
You can then reach out to the relevant contacts and ask for an introduction, or ask them to put in a good word for you if you’ve applied for a job in the company.
Remember, it’s not WHAT you know but WHO and LinkedIn effectively gives you visibility and access to your expanded professional network. This does not only apply for job search but also things like business development and knowledge and information gathering.
If you have not joined LinkedIn, it’s very simple. Go to www.linkedin.com, enter your name and email address, validate the email that LinkedIn will send you and start building your profile.
Even if you already have a LinkedIn profile, in my experience, it is probably light on in terms of content, and you rarely if ever visit the site. There’s even more reason to populate your profile and especially to be guided by the ‘Add new profile section’ which appears in the top right-hand corner of your profile screen.
Here you can add a myriad of items to your profile to ensure it is complete.
Think of your LinkedIn profile like a record on a database – The more complete and detailed it is, the better to allow you to be found (especially as there are over 500 million profiles on LinkedIn).
Recruiters and large companies search LinkedIn for candidates using key words and phrases, so ensure you use words that will allow them to find you. For example, if you are in marketing, you might use terms like ‘Public relations’ and ‘event management’ throughout your profile.
Key sections on a LinkedIn profile include:
Photo – A picture paints a thousand words, so present yourself professionally. I generally suggest the classic head & shoulders shot, dressed as if you are going to an interview, smiling, and looking at the camera. Also ensure there are no distracting backgrounds and that the picture is large enough (I generally find photos above 400 kb are acceptable).
Headline – Use the 120 characters in this section by inserting key words and phrases. Please don’t use ‘Seeking next opportunity’, ‘Taking some time out’ or ‘On sabbatical’, as they sound needy and desperate.
Summary – Provide a brief elevator-pitch paragraph that lets the reader know who you are, where you have worked (a mix of industries and companies) and 5-6 key skills (combining both technical, soft and leadership skills).
Beyond ensuring that your profile is complete, make sure you connect with people you know and be active by ‘liking’, ‘commenting’ or ‘sharing’ posts submitted by others on your home page, or even better, share content that you have found or written yourself.
LinkedIn is a great positioning tool and allows you to showcase your knowledge and insight on a range of business-related topics.
What are you waiting for Barney Rubble? Get contemporary and job search savvy by setting up your LinkedIn profile and adding a link to your profile on your resume along with your mobile number and email address.
This will indicate to the recruiter or hiring manager that you are savvy and up-to-date with technology.
You can also use the link on your email signature, your business card or anywhere where you’d like people to find you online.
- About the author: As The Career Medic, Paul works with corporate professionals and managers over 40 who have lost their jobs due to redundancy or who are in jobs they don’t like and want to change. He has an honours degree in psychology plus over 25 years of corporate experience in senior Human Resources roles in IT, transport and logistics and manufacturing. You can find his LinkedIn profile here.