Remember, LinkedIn is for Grown-Ups!

Published: 22 January 2015

LinkedIn has been a fast evolving resource at the heart of the recruitment industry since 2003. This period has seen massive economic upheaval, and through helping people to share knowledge, collaborate and acquire talent, it continues to thrive. Key to this has been the constant evolution of its commercial service offerings. So, while LinkedIn and its paid services are evolving, are you evolving how you use it to support your career and professional development?

Since the 2008 market collapse until early 2013, it had been unmistakably a “buyers’ market” in recruitment. With constrained numbers of available jobs, those candidates actively seeking a move have had to fight hard to land any role they chose to pursue. With growing numbers of jobs being recruited, the balance is tipping in favour of candidates. However, it is also worth considering that the nature of the talent pool shifts too. Increased opportunities, gives greater confidence to those high performers otherwise well courted in their existing roles. There are always roles for this cadre of candidate. With increased underlying confidence in the job market, high performers can make moves without putting a high trajectory at risk. The net effect is increased competition all round. In simple terms, the battlefield for the often quoted ‘war for talent’ has shifted. As such, the effectiveness of your personal marketing becomes ever more critical – your outbound messages to the market are critical, and your social media presence is an important part of this.

The essence of social media is participation. Standing for something, sharing a perspective and contributing to your chosen professional communities are all good things. But, do be conscious of the impact it might have upon how people perceive you.  The cross-fertilisation of form and function across social media platforms is bringing a change in what people deem appropriate to post in each forum. LinkedIn seems to be suffering a little.  Where previously LinkedIn was the sole preserve of work related content, it is becoming increasingly ‘social’. No bad thing, all work and no play etc!

Knowledge sharing is a boon to us all.  But here is the note of caution. It is relatively simple to control your privacy in Facebook – who sees what is easy to manage. LinkedIn is less discrete. In the array of social media sites, LinkedIn remains firmly at the heart of professional networking. And as it climbs well beyond 250 million users, you may think that you are a mere drop in the ocean and will never get noticed. But, pause for thought. This is the era of big data; everything can be weighed and measured! The internet is pretty much inedible and infinitely searchable.

While your LinkedIn presence need not be monkishly abstemious, or relentlessly highbrow, limit your exposure and participation in the whimsical. Think hard about how many ‘IQ & Genius tests’, pictures of cats, semi-political statements, or misty eyed photos with jaded motivational quotes you post. While you can’t entirely control people’s perceptions, you can influence it. Don’t get caught in the rush to be ‘popular’. A reputation for being well read, well thought out, and informed is hard fought and deserves to speak for you first and foremost. Leave the pictures of cats to Facebook!

Matt Cockbill is a Partner at Berwick Partners, leading the IT Leadership, Technology & Energy Practices.

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