Get Discovered: 7 Tips to create a great Finance LinkedIn Profile
Social networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter have made our personal and professional lives increasingly visible, and whether we like it or not, social networking is here to stay.
We’re all familiar with LinkedIn, and as the stats would suggest, we’re using it more and more. Not just for job searching, but for everything. From building bone fide networks to snooping on what your old colleagues or class mates are up to, it’s a tool that most of use on a daily basis.
Having a great LinkedIn profile is not just important for when you are looking for a job. Day to day you create connections – new acquaintances, customers and suppliers, and the chances are at some point, you’ll get looked up.
But what’s important in building a perfect LinkedIn profile? What makes the difference between a great, a good and a not-so-good profile?
#1 Be honest
Don’t get me wrong. Your LinkedIn profile should definitely “sell you,” but get your facts straight. It must match your CV, representing your career history correctly and consistently, down to qualifications and months of employment. Imagine you’re at final stage of an interview process and the HR Manager suddenly discovers a discrepancy between your CV and on-line profile – what does that say about you? What are you trying to hide? Make sure that your profile mirrors your CV.
#2 Write for your target audience
Writing a great LinkedIn profile is like writing a good sales pitch. It must play to what your audience is looking for. If are actively looking for a job, make sure your summary clearly states your area of financial expertise and your strengths in language common to the finance sector, so a recruiter or HR person will be able to find you via searching, and also be able to quickly recognise your skill set.
Ensure you use keywords, job titles and include skills that align with the type of role you want to be discovered for. Use the same language in your summary and job description sections as the market is using to describe your role and industry – FMCG, Manufacturing, Professional Services, IFRS, US GAAP, UK GAAP, ACA, CPA, CIMA etc…
Maybe try using the same language as in the specs of jobs that interest you?
#3 Be personal
What makes you different to your peers? Think of your LinkedIn summary like the landing page of a website, you need to give people a reason to stay and read on. Articulating what makes you good at your job, and why you stand out above others is a good place to start. What is your USP? If you’re struggling, think of an achievement from any time in your career – something that you are proud of… it’s likely to also be your most significant challenge. Also your summary section can be a good place to double up on those key words…not too much but just in the area or industry you feel you spike in or aspire towards.
#4 Make it achievement focused with context
If you’re a Financial Accountant, I don’t want to read your entire detailed job description on LinkedIn. I want to read a succinct overview of your main role mandate (making sure you hit those key words!), including how you’ve added value in each role. Skills and areas of expertise can be captured in “Skills” section as well as in the role description. Just like when you are writing a CV, what accomplishments can you put forth – reduction in month-end close, business improvement projects, systems implementations? That’s what I want to read about!
Also – don’t forget about context. Don’t assume everyone will know your current/past company like you do – what industry, how many employees, across what number of business units, across what number of jurisdictions, in what size finance team on what kind of system?
A short, succinct and informative line on context (in the companies you have had significant experience) will go a long way in ensuring that you get the right connection requests from the right people.
#5 Go smart-casual
We’re in the online world here. It’s the land of Gen Y, of Google and Twitter, and what isn’t needed is a formal suit. Yes, absolutely, grammar must be spot on, but you can certainly become more fluid in your approach to language. This isn’t a professional business case, letter or CV, and as such, you have a degree of creative input. But don’t go too crazy…novel and smart rather than outlandish wins the day in my book.
#6 Think visual
Blocks of text are boring. Your content might be super, but no one will read it if looks too long. Break it up with subtitles, bullets or lines between paragraphs to keep the eyes moving and to highlight the really important parts of your text. Don’t forget to keep it brief – summarise your role mandate in no more than 4-5 lines, and keep achievements to 3-4 bullet points.
Speaking of visual, when it comes to your profile photo be sure to remember that 1) You need to have a photo 2) LinkedIn is not Facebook and 3)
Keep it simple – head shot, slight side profile, taken on a good hair day, not a selfie, not at a party, on your own, with plain background and do try to smile… or at least appear mildly amused!
#7 Finish it off
Resist the temptation to copy parts of your company website, or paste your existing CV profile in. Avoid the use of overused, generic and reasonably meaningless words like “dynamic”, “creative” and “extensive”, and try to keep company specific jargon or acronyms to a minimum, unless they are an industry standard. Make sure you’ve completed all the required sections to build a full profile. Have a quick review before you go live. Think about your profile in terms of how others will find it and perceive it.
Next review your finished profile in terms of how others will find it and perceive it. Look out for the simple errors (maybe ask a mentor, colleague or career partner to review it at this point). A classic is for example stating that you are an “FCPA or an FCA”. You are a Fellow – that is great. But how many job specs do you see with the “FCPA or FCA” requirement. Close to zero. They all phrase it as “CPA or ACA”. So…it follows that if a HR person is key word searching for “CPA or ACA” on LinkedIn and you don’t have that acronym in play then you are not going to show up in their search…you are going to miss an opportunity to get discovered! Think like your audience, create for your audience!
Finally – you are only as good as your connections. LinkedIn works on the basis of degrees of separation. The more relevant people in the accounting and finance community you are connected with the wider the network of people you are likely to have an indirect connection with. You won’t show up on my search if we are not connected or you are at least a connection of a connection. Kevin Bacon Degrees of separation logic applies.
As a Recruitment Professional, I’ve probably looked at 10,000s of LinkedIn profiles over the years. Who you remember are, of course, the people who come up in your searches (those key words and connections are …well…key!), those that have gone to effort to shape the context and relevant detail on their profile and those that have a good photo and have gone to the effort of expressing themselves and making it personal.
Be authentic, be results-oriented and be approachable and you never know …you might just get discovered!
PS – feel free to drop me an invite to connect if you are part of the Accounting and Finance community in Ireland. My network and Barden’s network can become your network. Click here to connect
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