Find Your Dream Job, Episode 269:
Treat Your LinkedIn Account Like a Landing Page, Not A Resume
Airdate: November 11, 2020
This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life.
I’m your host, Mac Prichard. I’m also the founder of Mac’s List. It’s a job board in the Pacific Northwest that helps you find a fulfilling career.
Every Wednesday, I talk to a different expert about the tools you need to get the work you want.
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Many people use a LinkedIn page as an online resume. That’s a big mistake, says this week’s guest.
You’ll find your next job faster by publishing content on your LinkedIn account that lets you build relationships with targeted employers.
Justin Nguyen is here to talk about why you need to treat your LinkedIn account like a landing page, not a resume.
He’s the founder of GetChoGrindUp. It’s a movement to help students navigate college, and Justin also hosts the podcast, Declassified College.
He joins us today from Orlando, Florida.
Well, Justin, here’s where I’d like to begin, how do you see most job seekers these days use their LinkedIn accounts?
Yeah, so I think when it comes to LinkedIn, a lot of people have this stereotype of, “It’s a place to put my resume.” And while that is true, I think the biggest mistake that I’ve seen people do is, they think, “If I just put my resume on LinkedIn, then jobs are just going to come to me.” And that is what gets people into this rut, and why I also think LinkedIn gets a bad reputation. Because just like with anything else in your life, it really depends on the amount of effort that you put into it. If you just put up your LinkedIn resume on there, chances are people aren’t going to reach out to you. You have to find a way to get seen.
People do get approached by recruiters on LinkedIn; it does happen. When that does happen, what do you think is going on there, Justin?
It does happen every once in a while and I would definitely…I’m not going to be the person who says that it doesn’t happen, but especially for people who are out of work and are looking to get into entry-level positions, since those jobs, typically have so many applicants, very rarely do recruiters reach out for those positions, at least from my understanding. I think unless your LinkedIn profile is very optimized for specific keywords for that job, chances are you’re not going to pop up in that search and recruiters aren’t going to find your name to even click on your profile in the first place.
You need to do more than just put your resume on LinkedIn. Let’s talk about what a better approach is; tell us more about that.
Yeah, so my whole concept of LinkedIn is that you want to turn it into a landing page, A, so that when someone does land on it, they know exactly what positions you’re looking for, but also, B, so that you’re able to bring the right people to your page.
For instance, if you shop at American Eagle, it’s going to be a different comparison to the person that’s always shopping at Gucci. It’s a different sort of consumer, and I think that people have a very general LinkedIn page for the most part, and you want to make that as specific as possible for that specific job or specific recruiter that you’re looking to target.
Justin, “landing page” is a term that is used by marketers. For those of us who don’t have experience in marketing, can you tell us what a landing page is?
Yeah, so a landing page is basically that first page that you end up on when you click on a website, and the whole purpose of that landing page is to get you to convert. And in retail terms, that means to get you to buy a product. Now, what does that mean for a job seeker? That is getting the recruiter to connect with you or reach out to you when you’re looking for a job.
Is it just about attracting recruiters or are there other actions that you hope someone will take when you treat your LinkedIn page like a landing page?
Yeah, I mean, I think it’s really up to what you want to get out of it. For instance, if you’re a job seeker, that would obviously be to get someone to reach out to you with a job opportunity. Now, for someone like myself, or even yourself, maybe we’ve optimized our LinkedIn to look like a landing page to get people to listen to our podcasts a little bit more. So, it really depends on what you’re looking at it from that perspective.
Another example could be, if you are a sales representative, make sure that if you’re trying to sell a product through LinkedIn that when I go to your profile, I know exactly what your product does, how it can help me, and then what I need to do to purchase that product. So, there’s a numerous amount of different examples of what it could be used for in terms of a landing page.
What does a LinkedIn page that does this, that is optimized to act as a landing page, look like?
When this profile is optimized to look like a landing page, it means that your profile picture is geared towards the specific industry that you’re trying to get into. An example of that is, let’s say you want to get into tech, most of the time, people in tech don’t wear suits and ties a lot, so you don’t have to go for that full, buttoned-up look on your profile picture. But if you’re trying to get into an industry such as consulting or finance, then it might be worth it to put on that suit and tie because you want to fit the culture that you’re trying to get into.
Now, the next sort-of, visual perspective of your landing page is going to be your background banner, and that banner is super important and most people leave that blank and usually, it’ll populate that little generic, blue background, and what you want that to do is portray in some way, shape, or form, the industry that you want to get into. Maybe it’s some sort of hobbies, and finding a way to connect to that hiring manager on the other side.
For instance, for me, again, mine is converted to get students to listen to my show a little bit more, so I have a background image of my podcast and talking about how I share the cheat codes to success. I forget what it says exactly, but it’s something along the lines of, “Listen to my show and I make college easier if you listen to my show.” So you can take that and you can put that towards whatever career aspect that you want to do.
Those are great visual suggestions for optimizing your page. What are some other steps that a listener can take to, again, treat your LinkedIn account like a landing page?
Of course. So, the next two steps are going to be more on the copy side or the written side, and that first part is your headline. So, if you’re looking at your LinkedIn profile, you have your profile picture up front, and then right under that, you’ll have your first and last name, and then a set of words and you’ll get to choose what you want that to say. And in order to figure out what you want to put in here, you’re going to need to put the job descriptions that you want to show up for into a website like a jobscan.co or something that can pull out the keywords.
The reason that you want that is so that that headline is optimized for the keywords, and so that you’ll show up in the SEO. SEO means Search Engine Optimization, which basically means, if someone searches up those keywords, your name is going to be one of the first to pop up.
Let’s say you’re looking to be an email marketer. What your headline might look like is, “Aspiring email marketer, helping companies increase their email open rates by 35% using email marketing.” So you said email marketing twice to sort of bump up your name in the SEO rankings, but you’re also showcasing what you do exactly and how you help companies.
I like the strategy behind that because you’re not just picking keywords, you’re also talking about the needs and challenges that the employer faces, aren’t you?
Exactly, and it’s all about showcasing how you can help that company when that employer jumps onto your profile. I think that’s the biggest thing. Again, I talk to a lot of students, and a lot of the time they’ll have, “Student at University of Central Florida.” “Student at Cornell University.” Whatever that might be and the problem with that is if you look at it from a recruiter or hiring perspective, most of the time, they’re not looking up, “student” in the search bar. They’re going to be looking up for specific keywords to make sure that you have it, so you want to have those keywords as part of your profile in some way, shape, or form.
Well, moving through the rest of the page, now that we’ve talked about visuals and headlines and keywords, what are some other elements that people need to address?
Yeah, so the biggest “cheat code” as I like to call it, is on your right-hand side, if you’re scrolling down most people’s profiles, you’ll see a section called, “people also viewed.” And this section is turned on as the default by LinkedIn but it can be a huge problem if you’re someone looking for a job. And the reason for that is, let’s say a recruiter landed on your profile and they’re scrolling down your page to see what you’re doing, but on the right-hand side they see someone who has a better headline than you that catches their attention a little bit more. They can click on that profile and they’re now taken completely off of your page and they probably will forget about who you are.
You can turn off that in your settings. So, if you click on your picture in the top right-hand corner and you scroll down to settings and privacy, you’ll see a section that’s called, “people also viewed.” Just turn that off and it doesn’t hurt but you just want to take that precaution, just in case.
What about the positions that you’ve had, whether you’re a new graduate or someone who’s mid-career or are farther along in your work history? How do you recommend that people talk about past jobs?
Yeah, so in your experience section, what you’re going to want to do, I like to say, you can just copy and paste what is on your resume. I don’t think it really hurts you there, as long as you have those keywords and you’re popping it up, but the really important piece to your experience section is your ability to link articles, websites, and videos to your page. And the reason you want to do that is because the biggest thing, whether people want to admit it or not, is some people lie on their resumes. From a recruiting or hiring standpoint, they take a lot of things with skepticism, so if you can find a way to show visual proof that you’ve done that project, that you’ve done that Excel worksheet, that you’ve done that analysis, whatever it is, in your LinkedIn profile, that just furthermore solidifies the fact that you can do that job in that recruiter or hiring manager’s mind.
How many work samples do you recommend someone share?
If you can get three, two or three would be great, but even just one. Most people don’t even have anything linked to their experience section.
What are the good examples of work samples? Do you want to put up your 150-page Master’s thesis or should you look for an article that you wrote for a blog?
I think that also depends on what job you’re looking to get into. So, let’s say you’re trying to get into academia, then it might be worth it to put up that 150-page thesis. Maybe someone’s not going to read through that whole thing but just being able to show that you did it could be something that you look for. But let’s say that you’re trying to get a job as a copywriter. A link to that blog post that you put up could be really relevant because people who are recruiting for copywriting positions want to see proof of work and want to see how you write as a person, so having that is great.
Now, as a student, let’s just say that you have no real work experience; you’ve just worked as, let’s say, a bartender or something, you probably don’t want to take a picture of you in front of the bar and put it on your profile because that doesn’t necessarily help you for finding a job as a copywriter. What you could do is, let’s say you had a project in one of your classes where for one of your assignments you had to create a free blog on Wix or WordPress or something like that.
What you can do is you can just link that blog to your profile, and even though maybe it only got 5, 10, 100 views or something like that, it’s, again, a proof of concept, that you know what you’re doing and you can physically show the person on the other side that you know how to write. I think for me, again, especially for students, that’s the most important thing is overcoming that barrier of, “Is this person lying? Can they actually do the job?”
I want to take a break, Justin. When we come back I want to talk about calls to action because you’ve done a great job of describing steps that people can take to make their page attractive to recruiters, and interest and engage them. Let’s talk more about what’s going to inspire them to action and what action you hope that they will, in fact, take.
Stay with us. When we come back, Justin Nguyen will continue to share his advice on why you need to treat your LinkedIn account like a landing page, not a resume.
The best LinkedIn accounts have a strategy, just like the one Justin outlines.
Your resume also offers a chance to tell your career story strategically.
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Now, let’s get back to the show.
We’re back in the Mac’s List studio. I’m talking with Justin Nguyen.
He’s the founder of GetChoGrindUp. It’s a movement to help students navigate college. Justin also hosts the podcast, Declassified College.
Justin, before the break, we were talking about ways you make your LinkedIn page attractive and function like a landing page.
Of course, a good landing page, as you said at the start of the conversation, converts. It gets the reader to take an action. So, what can listeners do to…what calls to action should listeners put in their page and how can they optimize them and make them happen?
Yeah, I think anyone who’s coming from a marketing background, they know that unless you’re asking your consumer, chances are they’re not going to make an action for it. So, what you want to do when you’re coming from a non-marketing perspective is you want to find a way to tell the recruiter, hiring manager, again, whoever’s landing on your profile, to go ahead and reach out to you. What I like to do is, I put that section in the summary or the “About Me” section, and the way that I sort of format it all is, that the first 300 characters are the most important part of your “About Me” section. And the reason for that is because, if that’s not something that’s eye-catching, that’s going to make me want to click to see more, then I’m going to miss the whole “me” of your profile.
You make that first 300 characters something that can connect with someone quickly and then also makes me want to learn more about them, too. Now, the rest of your “About Me” section, what people typically will do is they just go into some full accomplishment mode. “I was the number one bestseller here.” “I was the president of my club.”
And the problem with that is you’re just telling people. You want to find a way to show them using storytelling, and the reason that I’m so big on storytelling is because, for me, I think that’s the number one way to communicate a message, but also, if you’re thinking about it from a recruiting standpoint, there are hundreds, if not thousands of people that look like you and have very similar accomplishments as you.
Now, the difference between you and person B is your story, and if you can make that recruiter, that hiring manager, fall in love with the story in that “About Me” section, when you go to ask them to reach out to you at the end, they’re going to want to because they’re going to want to know more about you, and that’s where you have your big ask. At the very end, say something along the lines of, “I really want to get into this industry.” Or, “I’m looking for this job in this industry. If you have any opportunities, I would love for you to reach out and connect with me. I’d love to have that conversation.” Or something along those lines.
That’s a very easy leeway to getting inbound leads for your job search. Again, you can swing that if you want to make a sales landing page and try to sell a product. You can do the same thing but that’s the best way to do it. Put that call to action at the end of your “About Me” section.
What do the best storytellers do in those “About Me” sections that inspire recruiters and others to take that desired action?
I think the best storytellers, they tell you something without telling you. So, for instance, what I mean by that is, most people will say, “I’m a leader. I have leadership qualities. I’ve worked well in a team.” Things of that nature, which is something that a lot of people look for in terms of when they’re looking to hire someone.
Now, a way that you can tell that without telling someone is, let’s say you were part of a lot of student clubs, you can talk about, maybe, an activity that you had in that student club. For instance, I remember at UCF when I was in college, there were student clubs such as FMA, and every single year they would have a large conference that was in Las Vegas or New York. And coming from Florida, that’s a long-distance, so being able to talk about how you were able to bring a team of 15 to 20 other college students to another state for a conference and talk about the success of that in a story format, that could be huge. And not just showing that you know a little bit about finance and that’s why you were voted the president, but also showcasing that you know how to manage people, you know how to bring people from point A to point B, you know how to keep people safe, and at the end of the day, you know how to lead people, and that’s probably one of the biggest skills when it comes to looking for people to hire.
That’s how you can show that you have that skill without ever actually saying, “I have leadership qualities.”
On a commercial landing page, there’s usually a button that says, “Click Here,” or, “Buy Now.” In other words, the desired action is easy to find and it’s highly visible. What’s the equivalent to that on a LinkedIn page at the bottom of that “About Me” section when you say, “Contact me to learn more?” Or, “I’d love to do this.” Is there a button? What does that look like?
Yeah, so unfortunately, there’s no button that you can put right at the end. What I usually advise people to do is tell people to connect with you, and that’s sort of the lingo that’s on LinkedIn. So, the way that LinkedIn works is that you have to “Connect” with someone for you guys to become connections and that’s what I typically tell people to do is, tell people to connect with you at the bottom of your “About Me” section. And then what I also like to tell people is, sometimes if you add a hobby or things that you like to do, let’s say you love to play soccer; that could look like, “I would also love to connect with any other soccer fans out there and talk to you about why Chelsea is going to win the primary league this year.”
Again, that’s just something that’s a little more casual but leads…it’s a conversation starter and you never know where that’s going to happen. So, other things you could do is, you could always put your phone number or email, that’s really up to you and if you want to put that out there, again, that’s completely up to you.
You mentioned connections. What strategy do you recommend following when reaching out to people and asking them to connect or in responding to invitations to connect?
Yeah, so when responding to invitations to connect, I’ll handle that first. People will start to randomly connect with you and whether you want to accept that or not is really up to you. What I would suggest is take a look at their profile, see if it’s something unique, see if it’s a value add. If it’s not, then don’t bother connecting with them back, if it is then why not? Connect back with them, send them a message, maybe there’s a specific reason why they could connect back with you.
Now, when it comes to what’s a good sort of format when reaching out to people, I would say the best way, if you are a college student, but even if you are in the workforce and you want to find more people from your university, you can go and look up your specific university on the LinkedIn search bar. Click your university, and on the left-hand side, there’s an alumni tool, and you can click that and search up, literally, any position, any keyword, any company, and LinkedIn will populate anyone from your school that has in some way worked for that company. Whether in the past or in the present.
That’s an easy way to get connections with a company and the alumni connection is one of the strongest ones out there. Now, let’s say if you have no alumni connection into Nike and you want to get into Nike. You can look up, let’s say, marketing analyst at Nike. LinkedIn will populate 50+ people or so. You can go out, reach out, and connect with them, but make sure that you’re sending a personalized invite, and the reason that I say that is, I get anywhere from 20 to 50 connection requests every single day. One or two of them will be a personalized invite, so those really stand out.
That’s why you want to send a personalized invite out to people, so that you’re differentiating yourself, and what you want to put in that is, look at their profile, find a point of connection, whether it’s the alumni connection, whether it’s the same sports team that you like, usually there’s something in that person’s profile that you can connect with. Use that to your advantage, connect with them, when they connect back, follow up.
That’s not a hard message to write is it, because there’s a limit on the number of characters LinkedIn allows, I think it might be 300? So it has to be a short message anyway but to your point, it’s so rare that people actually write those personal notes, isn’t it?
Yeah, it’s incredibly rare and it’s a huge hack. Like, earlier today I just connected with the CEO of Landa School, and literally his headline is, “I don’t respond to LinkedIn messages.” So, what I did was I said, “Hey Austin, I know that you don’t respond back to LinkedIn messages but I love what you’re doing with Landa School, would love to connect and I’ll follow up with an email.” So, a little bit of joking but a little bit of connecting with something that he said on his profile, and I saw that pop up on my phone maybe an hour and a half ago, and it was just like, “Oh wow. It worked.” But that’s what it takes to connect with people.
You just have to find that point of connection to stand out.
You mentioned college alumni connections. Why are those so powerful? Why have you found that people do get a warm response when they reach out to their fellow grads?
I think the alumni connection is so strong because I think pretty much anyone has had that moment where someone has helped them out, and a lot of times, that comes from someone that was from your alumni or your alumni network. And I know specifically for me, I know a bunch of people who have graduated from UCF that have helped me along my journey. So, I always want to give back to people or students who are a part of UCF right now just because it makes me feel good, A, but also because I feel some sort of connection with them. Even though they may have graduated ten years before me or three years after me, I still feel like we have some sort of connection because we went to the same school.
I should also mention, I have a sister who went to the University of Central Florida so, go UCF.
There you go.
That’s not why I invited you on the show, Justin, but it was certainly a point in your favor.
Now, let’s talk about the strategy of connection and bring it back to landing pages because you’ve done all the steps that you’ve laid out here, they’ve optimized their headline, they’ve added those keywords, they paid attention to the visuals, they’ve been thoughtful about the connections that they make, and they’re sending those personal notes, but as you said in the beginning, you have to have a goal in mind, a position that you’re interested in or a company.
How do you bring it all together so that you can focus your LinkedIn account on those target companies that you may be exploring, and not only attract the attention of recruiters there but get them to take action and either reach out to you or say yes when you invite them to connect and have a conversation?
Yeah, so, this is where the magic happens, and this is the blueprint I like to give people. So, if you remember what I said at the beginning when I was talking about how people just put up their resume on LinkedIn and they think that jobs are just going to kind of come in, and the matter of the fact is, if you just put up your resume on there, you might get 10, 20, 30, 50, or maybe even 100 views, every 90 days on your LinkedIn profile, and that’s not bad, but if I tell you that I get anywhere from 4000-6,000 views every 90 days and those are recruiters/hiring managers, founders etc., that might be something more interesting to you, and the only way to get that amount of views, no matter how optimized your page is, is to create content.
Here is the strategy that I always tell people. If you want a specific job, this is how you go about it: find five companies that you really want to work for, 5 to 10 companies that you really want to work for, create an Excel sheet with them, then used LinkedIn to find 10 people at each of those companies that you want to reach out to. Reach out to each one of them using the LinkedIn personalized connection request that I talked about earlier, and then maybe 30 or 40% will respond. Now you are up to X amount of people that you want to talk to. Then you start to reach out, start to have a conversation with them, but this is where the content piece comes into play.
Let’s say that you wanted to get a job in investment banking and you connected with people at Chase, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Deutsche, etc. Go out and wait until your favorite company has released their earnings, create a financial analysis of their earnings, and run through their 10K, and then talk about where you think the stock is going to go in the future. Create a whole article, with that spreadsheet in there, with your financial analysis in there, and then push it out on LinkedIn with an article. Send that article to those recruiters, just asking for their feedback, and that’s how you show that you actually know what to do in that job. And that’s how you can overcome everything and start to bring people to your page, because if I’m a recruiter and if everyone else is reaching out to me saying, “Hey Justin, I saw that you’re a recruiter at Nike,” or “I saw that you’re a recruiter at JP Morgan. I would love to work for JP Morgan one day.”
I probably get a hundred, if not a thousand of those every day but if someone reaches out to me saying, “Hey Justin, saw that you follow Nike’s earnings, would just like to let you know that I created this article about Nike’s latest earnings. Here it is. I’d love to know your thoughts about it.”
I’m probably more open to responding to that and starting a dialogue, and we all know that the best way to get into a company is through a referral and that’s how you can start to get those referrals.
That’s a process that takes time but why is it effective, Justin? Why does it make a difference?
It’s effective because it shows that you’re willing to put in the work and it’s something that is really interesting for me because on our podcast, Declassified College, we have one episode every single season where we reach out to someone who’s really successful, and we’re talking about billionaires, founders of million-dollar companies, etc, and I always ask them something along the lines of, “What would be your advice to a college student to get them a job at your current company?” And almost every single response is something along the lines of, “If that person created some sort of work that showed that they knew what to do or they presold my product to a client that I want to get in touch with and then sent me that in an email, they would instantly have a job.”
I think if you take that same concept and you apply that to recruiters, it’s almost a guarantee, once you get them to respond back, that you’ll have a conversation with them. And once you have a conversation, then it’s really up to if you’re a good candidate or not, because you’ll either sell yourself, that you are a great candidate or you’ll show them your true colors, that you aren’t a good candidate, and they’ll move on. But having that first conversation is super important.
Well, it’s been a great conversation today. Tell us, what’s next for you.
What’s next for me is really just growing the Declassified College podcast. It’s been a sort of side project that we’ve been working on and the feedback that we’ve gotten on it is just simply amazing. What we’re trying to do is make career education cool for college students and some students have reached back out to us that they’re binging our show, like Netflix. So to make career education to a point where students are binging it like it’s the Umbrella Academy or something on Netflix has been a great accomplishment.
We’re just looking to get into more schools, more college communities right now, and it’s been a grind but it’s been fun.
Well, it’s a great show. I encourage listeners to check it out.
I know people can learn more about you, and your work by connecting with you on LinkedIn, with a personal invitation, and you can find Justin Nguyen on LinkedIn.
Now, Justin, given all the great advice you’ve shared today, what’s the one thing you want a listener to remember about why you need to treat your LinkedIn account like a landing page and not like an online resume?
I think the last thing that I want people to think about when it comes to…I would say more than just the landing page aspect, but just LinkedIn as a whole, the concept that I’ve heard about in your career, that we overestimate what we can accomplish in one year and we underestimate what we can accomplish in 10 years. And if you take that to the job search thing, I think most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a month but they underestimate what they can accomplish in 2 months. I think that if you take that concept of patience into your LinkedIn strategy and your LinkedIn profile, and turning it into that landing page, and taking the time to create the content to bring people to your landing page, you will not only get a job but you’ll probably find a way more fulfilling job that you actually want to work for. Not just a job that you happen to get.
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Next week, our guest will be Shelli Romero. She’s the president of Rose City Chica. It’s a career coaching firm that focuses on women, people of color, and GLBTQ communities.
You always want to make sure you get the position you want and the salary you deserve.
But do you also want to do work that benefits others and creates a legacy?
Shelli says you can find a job that lets you do these things and more.
She and I will talk about how to get a job that aligns with your personal values.
I hope you’ll join us. Until next time, thanks for letting us help you find your dream job.