How to win contract work through LinkedIn

LinkedIn now has 364million members yet I still talk to contractors who haven’t embraced LinkedIn because they are; they tell me trying to be polite, “not a fan of social media”.

Let’s be clear, writes Matt Craven, founder of The CV & Interview Advisors, LinkedIn is not a social media channel. It is a professional networking site where professionals can ‘network’ and make themselves visible to other professionals (or companies) that might want to buy their services.

Are you a catch on this professional network?

The critical statistic for unconvinced contractors to consider is that LinkedIn generates 62% of its revenue from its Talent Solutions offering. This means that it generated the largest portion of its revenue from recruitment-orientated services. This all stems from the fact that LinkedIn is now the largest candidate database in the world so, by default, has become the pond in which recruiters and companies fish for talent. These recruiters and companies pay LinkedIn to access professionals on LinkedIn and thereby improve their capability to source talent.

Back in 2014, I did some consultancy work for a top tier recruitment provider to the banking sector and saw that half their team spent an entire two days connecting with professionals on LinkedIn. Once connected, all they did was talk to them about contract opportunities.

Lax on LinkedIn = drop off the shortlist

The relevance of all this is that LinkedIn should be one of your primary channels for winning work in the contract market. Another interesting statistic is that 85% of recruiters and hiring managers will view the LinkedIn profiles of potential candidates once they have made the shortlist.

This means that having a well-written and compelling LinkedIn profile is as important as a well-written and compelling CV. Having just skeleton details or something that’s been cobbled together without much thought is not going to help you in securing a contract; in fact quite the opposite, it is likely to significantly damage your chances.

Here are five ‘quick wins’ that you can make to improve your LinkedIn profile:

1. Say what you do, not just what you are

Don’t just put your job title in the ‘Professional Headline’ section; try to incorporate what you will do for a potential client. For example, my Professional Headline reads: “Matt Craven, expert in helping people increase their effectiveness in the job market”. This is much more of a value proposition statement that “Matt Craven, Managing Director”.

2. Say how you do it and make it count

Make sure your ‘Summary’ captures your headline skills and walks the reader through how these skills will benefit their organisation. Don’t just pick any old skills; it is important to present the skills you have that are in line with the ‘hot’ skills in your market place. Reiterate what you do and what your value proposition is and talk about your philosophy / ethos on what you do.

3. Position the ‘Position’ section carefully

Make sure each ‘Position’ that you present in LinkedIn gives a summary of the role/contract and where it sits within the organisation. Talk about why you were engaged and the scope of your responsibility, providing evidence that you succeeded by listing outcomes and business benefits derived from your work. The information needs to be evidence-based and contribute to a business case about how you can add value to a client’s business.

4. Get recommendations    

Ask your connections / past clients for recommendations. Statistically, an individual with recommendations in their LinkedIn profile is three times more likely to be contacted about an opportunity than someone who has not.

5. Optimise with keywords

Make sure your LinkedIn profile is keyword-rich. You can add a list of key skills into the Summary (where ‘Specialities’ used to be) as well as the default ‘Skills’ section. A contractor with a good selection of skills will be 13 times more visible than a contractor without. This helps to SEO your profile, so you are more likely to appear in LinkedIn and Google searches.

Final thought

If you would like more advanced information about how to write an effective LinkedIn profile and how to use LinkedIn as a tool for winning work, Contractor UK is running a free one hour webinar on September 2nd at 7.15pm. The webinar will focus on LinkedIn but follows on from the recent CV writing webinar. We will be showing you how to make sure your CV and LinkedIn profile dovetail together for maximum effectiveness. Find out more by signing up here.

Tuesday 25th August 2015