Ultimate LinkedIn Guide: Listen to This If You’re Working on Your LinkedIn Profile

Stephanie Chiu (00:00):
The thing about LinkedIn that I discovered when I was looking for my first tech job is that it's just a giant algorithm. This is the most commonly used platform that recruiters use to find candidates. So if you're not on there, you're really missing out on a lot of easy access to the whole community.

Jan Arsenovic (00:19):
Hello, and welcome to the Scrimba Podcast. On this weekly show, we interview developers about their advice on learning to code and getting your first job in tech.

It's September. Everybody's coming back from their summer vacations and the companies are hiring again. Well, you can argue that they never officially stopped hiring during summer, but the interview processes just seem to slow down a lot in July and August. No matter where you are in your career, whether you're a new developer just looking to break into the industry or you're an industry veteran, having a strategic and up-to-date LinkedIn profile is a must.

LinkedIn is something we often talk about on this podcast. Many people from experts to recently hired Scrimba students have shared their tips and tricks for this social network over the course of 130 episodes. In this episode, we have compiled their best, most actionable advice. If you're looking to refresh your LinkedIn profile this fall, or if you're just about to create one for the first time, this is the episode for you.

You're listening to the Scrimba podcast. Let's get into it.

Austin Henline is known as the LinkedIn profile review guy. Back in 2017, his university professors told him he was supposed to sign up for LinkedIn, but nobody told him how to use it. He quickly got discouraged and abandoned his LinkedIn profile altogether. It wasn't until he needed to apply for jobs that he realized the importance of LinkedIn, but by then it was too late. Every company he applied to required a LinkedIn profile and he faced rejection after rejection from every single one.

Austin then took matters into his own hands. He dedicated countless hours to researching best LinkedIn practices and conducting personal experiments. He has since optimized more than 1,400 other people's LinkedIn profiles and helped individuals land jobs at their dream companies and establish their personal brands. He even worked at LinkedIn itself. At one point, we had him over on a Scrimba town hall to share his LinkedIn advice.

To kick things off, we should answer the question you probably already have on your mind if you've never been active on LinkedIn before. Do you really need it? In short, yes. In some other lines of work, there are probably better channels to focus on. For example, if you're a scientist, you should probably ignore LinkedIn and focus in your research gate. But if you're listening to this, you're probably an aspiring developer.

Austin Henline (03:00):
It depends on your role. LinkedIn recruiters are always looking for software engineers, are always looking for people with the skill sets that you are trying to develop. And also, it's just an amazing thing because your resume is active, or active in the sense that you only get job offers from companies that you apply to. But LinkedIn, once you've set it up, it's working for you while you sleep. Sometimes I woke up to three or four job opportunities during the time that I slept because people around the world were looking for people with my qualifications, and I woke up and could decide what I wanted to do and that's how I got all of my six internships through LinkedIn, people reaching out. And so, it definitely depends on the industry, but I'd also say if you are in a lesser known industry, like maybe healthcare or law or places that aren't adapting to it as quickly, that's just bigger incentive because you're a bigger fish in a small pond. It's less people that are candidates that are on LinkedIn, so it's easier to stand out.

Leanne from Scrimba (04:04):
What are the most important sections of your profile? And what should you put the most effort into?

Austin Henline (04:05):
Put probably 80% of your time into four sections in particular. Your headline is the part directly under your name. For about 90% of the people, it just says their job title at the company they work for, but you can have up to 220 characters in that. And LinkedIn is essentially like Google. It's based all on search engine optimization. If you type in a Google search for CSS Bootcamp, the ones that will appear at the top are the ones that mention it the most and utilize SEO. And so likewise, having your headline not only be your job title but also some of the skills that you have, what softwares are you familiar with or software engineering, including those keywords will help you to appear higher. So that's one section, your about section, kind of telling your story, some of the skills, some of your accomplishments.

The third would be your experience section. This is pretty much like your resume showing the places that you've worked, the impact that you've made. Just make sure that's filled out.

And then the fourth is the skill section at the bottom, you can list up to 50, but that's where you don't want to be humble in the sense of if you have 50 skills, list them. Each skill is an opportunity for a recruiter to find you. And so, if you're just starting out, focus on your headline, your about section, your experience section, and your skill section.

Alex Booker (05:26):
I was wondering how can we get a sense for what recruiters are searching for specifically? You might wonder if they search JavaScript developer or abbreviate it and search JS developer. Maybe they search for front end developer or maybe they search for front-end with a dash in the middle.

Austin Henline (05:44):
The biggest recommendation that I'd have is if you are looking for jobs, look up, I'd say minimum of 7 to 10 job descriptions of the title that you're looking for. So if you're looking for a software developer role, software engineer, front-end developer role, pull up 10 different job descriptions at 10 different companies that you would potentially be interested in working for, and then scroll down to the requirements and what you need to know for the job.

Let's say you pull up 10, if 6 or 7 of those 10 jobs say you need to know JavaScript or front-end developer, et cetera, use the language that the majority of those companies are using in their job descriptions. If you need to put them into a word cloud and run a word cloud to see what the most common requirements are across the job descriptions that you're looking for, that works too.

And the last thing that I'd mention is in terms of abbreviations or if there should be a dash or if there should be capitalizations, I wouldn't worry about that too much. What I would do is go down to the skill section in LinkedIn, add something like Java, and then you will see a dropdown menu of what skills are recommended based on what you type, and select the dropdown menu because that's built into LinkedIn's algorithm. So if you select what is popping up as available, then LinkedIn will be able to find you in those searches, whether it's JavaScript, JS, or anything like that because it's tied to those tags in the LinkedIn algorithm.

Alex Booker (07:16):
I've heard stories about people changing their headline on LinkedIn and almost overnight getting an influx of messages from recruiters.

Austin Henline (07:24):
Yeah. I mean, I did a training last week with a career center at a university to one of their staff. There's about 15 people, taught them how to teach students how to use LinkedIn. And I got a message from one of them two days ago that's saying he changed his profile and in less than five days he's already had three recruiters reach out to him with job offers. So it really is you have the experience, it's just learning how to sell it and also just understanding the LinkedIn platform of where to put it, et cetera, to be found.

Alex Booker (07:54):
Is there any sort of balance we should be aware of? Does it make sense to just list a bunch of keywords at the bottom of our about section or do we have to sort of massage them into various parts of our profile? When people are trying to rank for pages on Google, for example, they think, "Okay, I'll put the keywords all over the page. Then I'll rank for a certain term," but actually people are smarter than that and they don't really respond to it. Are these things we have to think about on LinkedIn as well or is it a different playing field?

Austin Henline (08:20):
Not to the extent of Google. Google is pulling up articles like specific links and their web crawlers are very specific at knowing how much you spam a word or anything like that. What I would mention on LinkedIn is yes, in fact, as a best practice, I recommend at the bottom of your about section listing as many skills as you have. If you look at my profile, if you visit my profile at the bottom, after I tell my story what it is that I do, I have a paragraph that says, "Skills include," and then I write them out in a paragraph delineated form of sales, business development, prospecting, recruiting, et cetera. So what I would say is, in each section, make sure not to spam it a ton. If I want to show up for business development, I won't mention business development 15 times in my about section, but what I will do is at least mention it once in each section. I'll mention it once in my headline, once in my about section, once in my experience section, and even each experience section.

If I had three different jobs, I'd mention it in the three different jobs that I worked there, and then also in my skills section. So although it does end up appearing maybe 10 times on my profile, it's in 10 different sections as opposed to 10 repetitions in my about section.

Leanne from Scrimba (09:37):
Quick question on the skill side of things. It can be difficult to know when to put a skill on your LinkedIn. I know you mentioned not being humble, but when someone sees that skill on your profile, how much expertise do they expect you to really have?

Austin Henline (09:54):
You don't want to sell yourself short, so if you do know all of these skills, be sure to include them. But you don't want to be straight up lying, "Oh, yeah. I don't know this, but it was appearing on all the job descriptions, so I'm just going to write it and kind of fake it till I make it." No, that's not the case either. But the threshold of where you can have it on your profile is a lot more towards the beginner side.

If you follow or have followed a lot of career experts across LinkedIn, what they recommend is, let's say you want to get a job as a front-end developer. In a job description, it says you need to know CSS and you know 0% of it. You don't know any bit of CSS. You wouldn't want to put that on your LinkedIn profile, but what you can do is watch LinkedIn learning courses or YouTube videos. I'd say at least two hours worth of tutorials of how to get started because YouTube videos are highly informational, so watch at least two hours worth of beginner tutorial on CSS, and then at that point, once you at least have that beginner knowledge, you can put that on your LinkedIn profile because the LinkedIn profile, the whole goal is to get you an interview, and then you would be sure to clarify in your interview if they ask like, "Hey, I saw CSS is on your LinkedIn profile," they'll clarify, "To what extent do you know CSS?" And then you wouldn't be like, "Oh, I'm an expert." No, you'd say, "Hey, I'm a beginner learning how to do it, but I have been learning a lot and like feel confident in my ability to learn and grow in my CSS skills."

But as a caveat, if you are a pro, then there are assessments that you can take on LinkedIn to prove them like, "Hey, I'm not a beginner, I'm an expert." And so if there are options to take an assessment for a specific skill, you can definitely do that because it shows right off the bat that you're an expert.

Leanne from Scrimba (11:37):
How important or valuable are these skill assessments?

Austin Henline (11:41):
It is helpful. It is very helpful if you want to prove your knowledge of a skill, but it isn't necessary for having a recruiter reach out. The most important thing for them is appearing in those searches and having it in your skill.

When I was a recruiter for a year, I didn't take too much stock into the assessments, but whenever I did come across one, I was like, "Oh, great. I know that they are skilled in that." But if someone didn't have it, I wouldn't knock them out and be like, "Oh, they don't have an assessment passed, so I'm not going to look at them." The more important thing is to have it on your profile, but if you're worried or you just want to show your expertise, then I'd recommend taking it. Nothing to lose.

Jan Arsenovic (12:18):
Coming up, why you should even put your career breaks on your LinkedIn profile. What to do if you currently don't have a job in the industry. And how a pastor turned developer set up his first-ever LinkedIn profile.

But before that, let's take a look at your social media posts about the podcast. Caitlin at Caitlin_M7 shared our interview with Tomash and wrote, "Happy to hear a career switch success story of another teacher turned developer on the Scrimba podcast this morning." I feel there are quite a few teachers turned developers in our community, so if you're listening to this, and if you're one of them, find Caitlin on Twitter and say hi.

Graham Tafaswa tweeted, "One thing that has given me confidence as a developer in Africa is the Scrimba podcast. We really face the same obstacles as other developers and we have as many opportunities." So good to hear that. The main purpose of this podcast is to motivate you.

We also have some new reviews on Apple podcasts. Thank you so much for that. They really, really helped a small podcast like this one to keep going. One of them says, "Continuing to learn. I'm a recent graduate of Nashville Software School making a transition into software development after 24 years as a pastor. This podcast has been a continual source of encouragement, and I recently signed up for Scrimba Pro to continue to develop my skills and build projects to add to my portfolio. Keep up the good work." Needless to say, it's a five-star review from a Steven. Steven, thank you so much for this, and good luck on your coding journey. Who knows? Maybe one day you will be a guest on the show as well.

If you'd like to support us, you can join the conversation on Twitter or you can leave us a rating or a review in your podcast app of choice. But for now, let's go back to the LinkedIn tips.

Here on the Scrimba podcast, we talk to a lot of career changers. One such person is Chris McCoy. He's a pastor who did odd jobs on the side, so he never really needed a LinkedIn profile. Eventually, somewhere between working retail and doing food delivery, he realized he needed something more stimulating. Nine months later, he landed not one but two job offers as a junior developer. And he did this thanks to LinkedIn where he absolutely crushed it.

In his interview, he shared his approach to posting and being actively present on the platform. He can use LinkedIn both to learn and to connect with people working in the industry, and that's exactly what Chris did. Spoiler alert. It doesn't have to be complicated.

Alex Booker (15:01):
Did you even have a LinkedIn profile before you started looking for a developer job?

Chris McCoy (15:06):
No, I didn't. I created one. I think I was at my daughter's gymnastic class, and I was sitting, and I created a LinkedIn profile on my phone, and the first person I added was another of my brothers. He's a data scientist, and he messaged me immediately through text message and he was like, "Hey, I think somebody is trying to pretend to be you. Is that really you on LinkedIn?" Because it was so odd that I would have a LinkedIn because I had never... I'm not a huge social media guy, and I'd never used LinkedIn. I remember getting emails from it in college from friends and professors adding stuff on LinkedIn. I was never really interested, and I didn't really know anything about it.

So no, I completely started a LinkedIn about halfway through Scrimba, and that was totally from hearing from the podcast like, "Hey, this is one of the, you know, few things that you really need to get a job." And so, like Scrimba and LinkedIn, you can do anything if you have those two things.

Alex Booker (15:59):
The thing that's really impressive is that you really know how to use LinkedIn now, so if people check out your profile, admittedly, it might have changed a bit by the time you hear the episode. Who knows? But there's nothing too crazy about your profile. You don't have that much work experience or details listed. 100% of the appeal of your LinkedIn profile comes from your posts. You write almost like your blogging or thinking out loud, yet it's very engaging, and actually people really engage with your posts. I think at one point you didn't overthink it. You were like, "Hey, just applied for my first developer job. Hope it goes well." And you got like 500 likes or something, people just showing the support. And I know that gave your profile some reach as well, which probably helped when it came to search results and recruiters and whoever checking out your profile.

I think what you've proved is the most impactful thing is to genuinely be present on the platform and strive to form connections with people. And it's not something that comes easy to many people at all. Like putting yourself out there in the first instance, but also finding your tone of voice on social media, it takes many people months if not years, and people never get that. But I want to hear from you. How was that experience for you putting yourself out there a bit more? Am I on the right path with my assumption that these are the things that really help accelerate your process?

Chris McCoy (17:17):
Yeah. So I used LinkedIn as a way to make connections, and I just connected aggressively with anybody I could find that worked in software.

Alex Booker (17:26):
You have more connections than me, by the way.

Chris McCoy (17:28):
Oh, that's hilarious. I started out just like I need to know somebody to connect with them, and then I realized I can click the connect button on anyone. And so I started with a few. I would just search software developer or I'd connect with one person and then I would just add 30 or 40 of their connections. Every once in a while, I'd sit down and just send out a ton of connection requests, and the purpose wasn't like... I didn't even know it kept track until I was at 400. But one, I wanted to fill up my feed with software stuff so when I'm on there I'm learning. But then, I also wanted the opportunity to see what other people are talking about, and then take part in it. And it definitely was outside my comfort zone. Posting, it's always felt weird to me to just post stuff. I know a lot of people love it. But I sent a lot of messages too, and I made some good friends, and connected with them, and that was really helpful.

The best part of LinkedIn was just how you can be connected to anybody else, and I feel like everybody in software is just really willing to share and to talk and to help people who are genuinely trying to learn either technical things or just trying to get into the field. Everybody I talked to was super helpful.

Alex Booker (18:35):
That's incredible to hear. And how did you feel about the tone of voice part?

Chris McCoy (18:39):
I just stream of consciousnessed it. Whatever was coming, I was thinking about and wanting to share, I would just write it up real quick and hit post before I could think about it too much.

Alex Booker (18:50):
What's the worst that could happen?

Chris McCoy (18:51):
Yeah, the worst that happened is nobody sees it and that's fine. I remember I did have a post that got... It was insane. It was like 20,000 or 30,000 engagement. People looked at it and I was like, "This is crazy. This can be really helpful for me looking for a job."

You mentioned my profile. I don't like tinkering with things like that because I feel like you can never get it right. And so, from my perspective, I just did the bare minimum of whatever I heard on the Scrimba podcast was like you have to have this on your profile, like setting your header or your title to the job you want. And it was actually something that I heard on Scrimba that got me the job, and it was that you need to have all of your education. And so, I had my bachelors degree and my other church stuff on there, but I didn't put Scrimba on until very late.

It was the beginning of May and I was listening to the Scrimba podcast. I had no job interviews. I'd done one or two maybe. They didn't pan out. And the podcast said you really need to have all of your education and all of the things you can pull out filled out. And so I was like, "Okay, fine. I'll add it." I went into my profile, I was like, "I'm not going to tinker too long. I just want to add it real quick." And I just added like, "Scrimba front-end career path. Planned completion, May 2022." And so, what I didn't realize was that LinkedIn takes your information, and then sometimes it'll just send it out to people. And so, all of a sudden, I got 40 or 50 messages. I was almost done, so I was planning to finish the career path by the end of May, and so I would get all these messages, "Congrats on finishing Scrimba."

I was like, "What is going on?" Turns out that LinkedIn sent out a, "Hey, it's May 2022. Chris says he's going to graduate in May. Let's spam all of his connections that he's done." And so, I would respond to people, I'm like, "Thanks so much. I'm almost finished. I'm working on it."

One of the people that reached out had the hiring banner, and so I clicked through. I saw the position they were hiring for. I applied. But then, I followed up. And I messaged her, and I said, "Hey, thanks for messaging me. I applied for this position. I really don't think, you know, that maybe I'm a great fit, but will you take a look at my application?" Because it was looking for one or two years of experience as a full stack dev. But the company looked really cool, and you can never hurt yourself by applying. And she said, "Yeah, great. I'll take a look." And that's how we got started talking, and she got back to me and was like, "You're not a fit for that position, but we're planning to do an internship in a couple of weeks or so, so I'll get back to you." And I thought, "I'm not ever going to hear back from her. That was a nice way to say, "We don't want to hire you.""

And then, all of a sudden, two weeks later, I get a message saying, "Hey, when can we schedule a phone call?" I was like, "Okay, cool. She wants to call and connect and just talk some more." And she called and started talking about this internship, and I was like, "This really sounds perfect. It sounds like a great fit."

Jan Arsenovic (21:41):
And just like that, Chris broke into tech. He got an internship, and then a job. And while his hard work in coding proficiency should take the credit they deserve here, being active on LinkedIn is what broadcast is progress to others, including hiring managers.

Before you ask, no, LinkedIn shouldn't replace your portfolio or your GitHub profile, but it can be a significant part of your strategy.

Stephanie Chiu (22:08):
The thing about LinkedIn that I discovered on my own, I was looking for my first tech job, is that it's just a giant algorithm, and it also, when you think about it, this is the most commonly used platform that recruiters use to find candidates. So if you're not on there and you don't have a profile with your work experience and your different projects that you've built, and also just write a blurb in the about section about why you decided you want to switch careers or you want to become a software engineer, you're really missing out on a lot of easy access to a whole community. If you can figure out how to teach the algorithm that you want to become a software engineer, that puts you in a really good position.

Jan Arsenovic (22:50):
That's Stephanie Chiu. She is a self-taught iOS software engineer and career coach. She's also a chemical engineer who thought she would never code until she met people who actually worked in tech. On her episode, she shared a lot of great advice about optimizing your LinkedIn profile.

One piece of advice you've often heard on this podcast is that you should put your new job title, even if it's just a job title you aspire to, in your profile headline. So instead of say, ostrich farmer, which is probably somebody's previous career, your headline should now say react developer. But you can also take this one step further. Did you know that you can optimize your profile by figuring out what a recruiter sees when they're on LinkedIn looking for candidates?

Stephanie Chiu (23:42):
One really big thing that I've noticed makes a difference would be the skills that you put in your skill section. I actually played around with this when I was first trying to make a 180-degree switch on my profile from being very production supervisor- and process engineer-heavy to iOS engineer. I decided to completely throw out every skill in the skill section, and then just replace it with everything related to iOS development.

But, at the time, because I also wanted to stand out as a developer who could design, I decided to put in some UX UI design-related keywords like wireframing figma, user research, and I noticed that by doing so it ends up being that I was starting to see some job posting related to UX UI design, and I was getting recruiters reaching out to me about UX UI design jobs on top of iOS development jobs. And I was like, "Wait. But I only want software engineering iOS development jobs, so I decided to play around with it, and I removed those particular skills and yeah, that changed everything.

Alex Booker (24:46):
On LinkedIn, it's interesting because you need to keep your goal in mind. The profile of an influencer might not look like the profile of a job searcher, and the profile of a job searcher might not look like the profile of someone who's searching for their first job in tech ever. It's a good bit of advice to include quantitative numbers on your profile to describe the impact you've had on a software project. Great advice for job changes if you're maybe changing companies as a developer. But for your first job, that isn't really going to be applicable.

One thing I noticed about your profile, I don't think I see any mention to your previous experience working as a production supervisor. Oh, there totally is. I just wasn't scrolling down far enough.

Stephanie Chiu (25:27):
But here's the thing. A lot of people, they don't realize that people don't really want to scroll the whole time. So that's why it's really important that if you can, that's why you put your projects in experience section because it's going to be one of the first things people would see. So unless people really want to click on show more experiences and really see all the things I've ever done in my life, you might as well just put in as much information you can about the projects that you've done, maybe any freelance work, you know?

Alex Booker (25:53):
Yeah. I love this about things like resumes and portfolios and LinkedIn profiles. You can literally control people's minds. It's very simple. If you make something big, they're going to see it first. If you put it at the top, they're going to see it first. We all read stuff at the top, but not always at the bottom. And here I am checking out your profile for the first time, much like a recruiter might, and I see your experience at PayPal, but then you've actually included... You've put your Gitter projects as experience. And by the way, let me just emphasize, and I'm realizing this for the first time, on LinkedIn, it doesn't say work experience or professional experience. This action is called experience, and you've really taken liberty of that and added your Gitter projects. And yeah, I didn't even apparently scroll far enough down to see all the other experience, but it's there if you want to look deeper. Was that like a conscious decision then to feature your Gitter projects as part of your experience?

Stephanie Chiu (26:46):
Yes. It was a very conscious decision to put my projects in the experience section. I actually saw this from somebody else's profile, and I realized like, "Oh, that's really cool. Let me try that for myself." And after doing that, I did see improved results in recruiters and managers reaching out. One of the reasons why is because on their end of LinkedIn recruiter, and you can actually Google this. If you Google LinkedIn recruiter, and then you search by images, you can actually see what recruiters and hiring managers see on their end when they're looking for candidates so they can filter for candidates by all these different Booleans. Once LinkedIn gives back a list of profiles/candidates, then they can also see what are your past experiences. So if your current and past experiences are all filled with different kind of projects that you've worked on that are all software engineering related, then that's how you can really stand out from somebody else who says in their headline that they're a software engineer, but they worked as a legal assistant or something.

Jan Arsenovic (27:49):
Laura Thorson from GitHub is also among the fans of LinkedIn as a tool for professional networking. Before GitHub, Laura has worked at Facebook, Twitter, and Salesforce. She broke into tech after attending the first-ever coding bootcamp in history, and she has only ever gotten jobs through LinkedIn. But even she didn't know everything about it.

Recently, she got a tip from a recruiter that changed everything.

Laura Thorson (28:18):
When I went to Facebook for my in-person interview, they actually had a printout of my LinkedIn profile. I never ended up sending in a resume or anything like that. The people who were interviewing me were holding my LinkedIn profile in front of them. And so, I think I just realized that recruiters are on LinkedIn all day all the time. They're putting in all sorts of different buzzwords and keywords, and all these things to help narrow down the competition. And I've been on a lot of people's LinkedIns where they come and approach me and my messages and they say, "Hey, you know, I've been trying to find a job for a year or for six months and I can't find anything. What do you suggest?" And I take a look at their LinkedIn. They have no words in there at all. They have just put in that they were a teacher at X school, but they don't say anything about what they did as a teacher, or they don't say anything about what they did as whatever their previous role was, and they don't have any indication that they're interested in looking for new jobs in a new industry.

It might say very briefly at the top that they are open to work, but it's not enough just to put that open to work badge on your profile image. You need to have some information in the actual profile itself to help people discover you. And so, writing out a well-thought-out about section, like a little bio about what you're doing, putting in your little tag underneath your name about what you're looking for, if you haven't yet broken into the industry, or what you used to do, or companies you used to work for, that stuff, I think, all really helps.

Alex Booker (29:52):
I noticed your bio on LinkedIn is in the third person. What was your thinking behind that?

Laura Thorson (29:56):
I'm actually looking at it right now and realize it's out of date, so go update your LinkedIns everybody. But I think I just decided that it felt more professional. Authors write the third person in the back of their books, and when you're reading about someone who's going to give a talk at a conference, it's usually a bio in the third person. Referring to myself in the third person felt less like a dating profile, frankly. I mean, it's kind of what it is. It's like a professional dating profile, but instead of dating, it's like I'm trying to also appear like I'm more professional. So I think that just communicates a little bit more of that professional look versus like, "Hi, I'm, you know, a program manager, and I like long walks on the beach." It's just like I do, but that might not get me interviews the same way as telling you what my greatest strengths are.

And hey, some people do that, and it totally works for them, and that's awesome. And I admire people who can be so colloquial in that way. I don't feel as confident being that colloquial, so this feels more comfortable for me.

I don't know if this will resonate with anyone in this community, but I actually took time off from the tech industry partially to work for a nonprofit that works with high school students, completely unrelated to tech, but also I was a stay-at-home mom for two years. Getting back into technology after taking really four years away from tech, I was very nervous about how it would look to get back into the industry.

Some advice that a recruiter gave to me that was really helpful was... At the time, when I was a stay-at-home parent, my last work experience was end of 2019, and then I didn't say anything else on my LinkedIn. It was like that was it. And this recruiter actually reached out to me from GitHub and was like, "Hey, like I saw your profile, and I just wanted to talk and see if you're around, and if you wanted to have an interview." And I was like, yes, I do." And when I finally got on the phone with him, I was like, "How did you find me? Why did you reach out to me?" And he's like, "Well, to be honest, I didn't actually know because I hadn't seen any updates since 2019." He's like... It's a little morbid, but he's like, "I wasn't sure if you were even alive." I was like, "Oh! Wow!" I wasn't expecting that.

And so, he advised to put in my bio that I was a homemaker or a stay-at-home mom or whatever the case may be, but that that was a job that I had in the present. Something I didn't realize is that sometimes recruiters will filter people out on LinkedIn based on who is actually currently employed or if you have an open job right now and you can say from this date to the present. I didn't know that, and so I didn't have anything because I was like, "Well, I'm just a stay-at-home parent. I don't have an actual job right now."

Alex Booker (32:43):
Proving that age-old adage that to get a job, you should have a job.

Laura Thorson (32:48):
I know. It's not even fair, right? I know, for a lot of the community listening here, that you're looking to break into the tech industry, so it's not fair, right? Like, "How can I say this? I have this job when I don't yet." My advice is to put that you're a freelancer, and then just put freelance as your current job, and then list some of the projects you're working on. My other advice, usually for people who are trying to get started in the industry, I always advise people to start a project, either your own personal website, and you can have a tab for this project or you can create a website for the project itself, and you walk through the project and the app or whatever you're building as if it is a real thing that you're working on for a company.

If you're creating a dog-walking service app or whatever, even if you don't know how to use wireframing or anything like that, just sketch it out on a piece of paper what your app is going to look like. You can upload some photos and talk about the process, share your process and your thinking around this app you're building. So, "I decided I wanted to build a dog-walking app because I needed help finding someone who would walk my dog while I was at work. These were the three things that I thought I really needed for my MVP. Here's some sketches of what I think this app should look like. Here's the GitHub repository where my code lives. If you're interested in taking a look and you want to contribute to it," kind of an open source thing. And just keep working on that project as if it is your real full-time job as you continue to interview. Because the thing that was most interesting was just how many interviews I had where people I was talking to had done the homework on me too.

They had looked at my LinkedIn, they'd seen my projects, they had clicked on my projects and the websites for them and had played around with some of this stuff and were like, "This is really cool," or like, "Tell me more about this project you made." I know it's discouraging at first, feeling like there's a lot of competition in the tech industry, especially right now. And yet, I think being able to show that you are proactive, that you are self-motivated, have direction, and explain your thought process on how you're working on something, and tell me more about the way that you're thinking about building this. Why did you make the design decisions you did? Why did you avoid certain things? That is showing people how you work. It's showing people how you think.

Jan Arsenovic (35:07):
By now, we have established that LinkedIn can be really powerful if you know how to use it. But using it right can also feel like work.

If the idea of creating content on LinkedIn sounds intimidating, there are other things you can do.

Back to Austin Henline.

Austin Henline (35:25):
If you don't feel comfortable posting content on LinkedIn, I would recommend to everyone, comment on LinkedIn. I know probably over 50 people who have gotten jobs because they simply commented on the hiring manager's posts like every other week, or they just built relationships with people.

I'll be honest. People say, when they post on LinkedIn, it's like, "Oh, it's not about the vanity metrics. I don't care about the likes or comments," but it doesn't hurt. Everyone wants their posts to be validated and every time you like or comment on someone's post, it helps their post perform better, which makes it be seen by more people, and so you're pretty much doing them a favor. If you comment on someone's posts five or six times, if you're consistently commenting on their posts, they're going to recognize your image, they're going to see you. And then also, it's going to build a connection within the LinkedIn algorithm that you two are connected. And so, if you post something next time, the person whose post you have been commenting on, they're more likely to see it appear in their feed, and they're more likely to engage with yours as well because they're like, "Oh, my goodness. Alex is always commenting on my posts, sharing great thoughts. He just posted, and I want to do the same."

The biggest things about posting content on LinkedIn is one, having the confidence to do it and be consistent. When I say consistent, I'm not saying do it every day, do it every month or et cetera. Just do it at a consistent amount that you don't get burned out. If you do it once every two weeks and that's a pace that you can maintain, then great.

Another thing, don't take this as law right now. This used to be the case. I don't know if LinkedIn has changed it, but if you post an external link within the body of your post, LinkedIn used to demote that. If you post an article or Facebook or something like that, you are taking LinkedIn's members off of the LinkedIn platform, and thereby LinkedIn doesn't have any potential to monetize them with ads or anything like that. And so, if you post an external link that takes people off of the platform and into another app, LinkedIn might be like, "Oh, we don't want to show this to so many people because if their post is successful, it's causing everyone to leave."

And so what I'd recommend is, if you really like an article, if you read something about CSS or anything in general, like an upskilling article and you want to post it, I wouldn't just post the link. What I would do instead is do a Cliff notes, "Hey, you guys. I just read this article. Absolutely loved it. Here's my four takeaways. If this sounds interesting to you, I posted the link down in the comments below. Feel free to check it out." So you're not just posting a link, "Hey, everyone. Read this." And most people probably won't because they're busy, but if they read your Cliff notes, it's like, "Wow. I vibe with that. I want to learn more." Then they'll click on the link and learn more.

And the last thing I would do is ask questions at the end. People want to comment, but sometimes they just don't know how because they don't want to be like, "Oh, great post," or, "Love this." They want to share their own thoughts. So if you do something and you post the informational bit or something, ask for their thoughts afterwards like, "Hey, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this," or, "What else did I miss?" And respond to every comment that you get because it also builds up the amount of engagement on your profile. Your comments also contribute to the overall comment count, which will help your post perform better.

Jan Arsenovic (38:40):
That was the Scrimba podcast. If you made it this far, please consider subscribing. You can find the show wherever you get your podcasts. And good luck with your LinkedIn.

The show is hosted by Alex Booker, who will be back with you next Tuesday. I've been your producer, Jan Arsenovic. You can find us on Twitter or X, where you can also share what you've learned from the podcast.

If you're feeling super supportive, you can also leave us a rating or a review in your podcast app of choice. And we'll be back with you next week.

Ultimate LinkedIn Guide: Listen to This If You’re Working on Your LinkedIn Profile
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