LinkedIn is an important resource for job hunting and career development. Sadly, it is no more immune to ageism than anyplace else. The preference for youth in terms of energy, contemporary knowledge, and cost means that your LinkedIn presence may be feeding ageist biases and interfering with your career prospects. When it comes to portraying a compelling personal brand and providing evidence and insights, there are ways to focus on what can help you and avoid negatively impacting your online presence. Here are five ways to tackle ageism head-on with LinkedIn.
1. Do Get a Modern & Exciting Headshot
That ‘neutral’, grey background does nothing to make you look relevant. In fact, it looks dated. A blurry shot taken from a candid picture, especially if it is cropped to show another person’s arm, does not convey professionalism either. A headshot says a lot about you, and your Profile should include one that is vibrant, appealing and professional. Dress for the office environment you want to be in – business attire or business casual. It is worth the investment to work with a professional photographer so that this critical first impression shows you at your best. Don’t forget to include an exciting banner that speaks to your brand. Leverage Canva to create one if you do not have an image that reflects your brand.
2. Don’t Let Your Experience “Date” You
Your college internship is decades old, and it is not doing anything to enhance your Experience on LinkedIn. In fact, going back too many years simply emphasizes your age, without adding significant value to your experience. Nothing in your profile should be more than 15-20 years old. This includes Education. LinkedIn does not require that you put your dates of graduation in this section, and you should consider going back and deleting the dates if they are already in there. Instead of focusing on the number of jobs, focus on the quality of your experience in the narrative. Ask yourself how your skills and the knowledge manifested in your more recent jobs. Then, write an engaging, detailed narrative that emphasizes substantive experience.
3. Own Your Expertise and Show It
When writing your summary and filling out your expertise – showcase the impact and difference you made working at companies with robust descriptions and metrics. Don’t be shy – own your value and how you helped deliver complex projects, inspire teams, and impact the bottom line. Showcasing results is a key differentiator, especially when you can highlight how quickly you can come in, understand a situation, and make a meaningful difference. Include specific metrics that reflect your expertise and experience. You could share that you led a team of 50 or that you increased revenue by a significant percentage. These sorts of specific details will be markers of your added value. A younger candidate may be less expensive, but a seasoned professional can hit the ground running, by capitalizing on relevant experience and adding value day one.
4. Utilize All The Advanced LinkedIn Writing Tools
Demonstrate that you have the full gamut of writing tools in your toolbox to create the positive impression that you are adept in the modern workplace. Blog, post responses, comment, and tag people and businesses. LinkedIn provides all of these opportunities for you to display your brand. Take advantage of them. Engaging with others on LinkedIn shows that you are tech savvy, and it allows you to demonstrate your expertise. By adding value to the LinkedIn community, you showcase how you can add value to a company. Keep your writing to your areas of expertise. Each time you write, you demonstrate your knowledge and value, so writing about other topics can distract from your unique value.
5. Embrace Video
Video can be intimidating, but it is a crucial way to show that you’ve mastered this increasingly popular marketing tool. A video doesn’t need to be long or fancy. Five or ten sentences in an informal setting demonstrates your thought leadership and your tech savvy. Video content can be a response to an article, a blog post or even a short bio video. Or you can take a deeper dive into your expertise by posting a video in response to a question. Be careful to limit this type of video to subjects on which you are a clear expert. Before posting a video, be sure to practice on your phone. And always include a call to action, such as inviting the viewer to look at your profile or contact you for further discussion of the topic.
Using the LinkedIn tools to demonstrate that you are experienced, qualified and tech savvy will go a long way towards combating ageism. It is an important place that potential employers will go to learn more about you. Take advantage of the many ways LinkedIn lets you showcase how you are an ideal candidate.
Jen Dalton, CEO of BrandMirror, has over 15 years of experience in strategy, marketing, and coaching. In 2012, she made a gutsy move into the entrepreneurship space, launching her branding business and became a certified master personal branding strategist. She specializes in building your digital thought leadership on LinkedIn and other social media. You can find her bestselling book, The Intentional Entrepreneur, on Amazon, which highlights how business owners can leverage their personal brand to grow their business faster.