Professional networks like LinkedIn are powerful tools for finding opportunities and getting attention from potential employers. Ensuring you are noticed in the crowd of great candidates starts with a strong professional brand. The way employers and candidates alike use LinkedIn is changing and whether you're a relative newbie or a veteran user, it can be hard to keep up. The platform has a suite of new tools and capabilities that can enhance your visibility and make all the difference in your job search — if you know how to use them. 

Even if you’re not looking for a new job, expanding your network opens many new professional connections that can enrich your career with new perspectives and potential partnerships. Here’s how to get started: 

be human, be original.

Start off with a great headshot and a winning smile. These days you don’t need a fancy camera to take a great photo, so ask a friend to help you out. Also, don’t forget to add a background photo! 

Next is engaging with your existing network by liking and commenting on your colleagues' achievements. Encourage people to endorse your skill sets or write a testimony by taking the first step to endorse others. Repost articles you’re interested in — sharing with your network strengthens your presence and shows your initiative by staying abreast of your sector’s news. LinkedIn articles are another opportunity to share your own original insights and read up on other perspectives for a diverse range of topics. What’s something you’ve accomplished that you’re proud of? Recruiters want to know. 

have a bio.

The bio is the new first impression. It’s your digital handshake and elevator pitch of who you are and for that reason, it deserves a dedicated discussion in itself.

In a world where everyone is continuously stepping up professionally in a competitive job market, you need to be able to differentiate yourself. In the past, your bio would be just your job title but now recruiters dealing with piles of applications of very capable candidates may take a cue from your bio to put you in the shortlist. What are you interested in? What makes you, you? Talk in the present tense, in an active first person voice (e.g. “I have done…”, “I believe this was my greatest professional achievement…”). 

Here’s your chance to let your personality shine through so take some creative leeway to tell your professional story. 

opt into notifications.

Often you’ll press no to annoying notifications that flood your phone and emails. But if you’re looking for a new role, take a second to change your settings and you’ll be able to filter the most relevant notifications to your emails or even via SMS. 

For job seekers in particular, you can set up weekly or daily notifications for specific terms within job adverts such as “Internship” or “Marketing”. This allows you to be ahead of the game for applying but also ensures that no opportunity gets lost if you were otherwise manually scrolling. 

join interest groups and follow who you admire. 

The Bill Gates’s of the world are always posting on LinkedIn and interest/professional association groups are always bustling with people sharing new concepts, technologies, looking for help or asking questions. Immersing yourself in these information ecosystems is a great way to get a feel for different sectors if you’re looking for a career change or a new mentor. Companies are also sharing interesting thought pieces and white papers to inform yourself and Randstad is no different. Follow Randstad New Zealand on LinkedIn for up-to-date career advice and sector trends here.