What is LinkedIn?
LinkedIn is a social media platform. However, unlike most others, it is almost entirely focused on professional connections and assisting career development. It is also heavily used by recruiters.
Essentially, it is a fantastic tool for marketing yourself and also maximizing your opportunities through being connected. There is a significant difference between the different social media platforms: the culture of Facebook is centred around friendship, Twitter represents a news branding channel while Instagram is purely images, mainly stills but now short videos as well.
Be careful not to confuse your messaging and keep your LinkedIn profile purely professional. If you are concerned about your social media footprint, there are companies that offer a review and amendment service.
Isn’t my CV enough?
You will have spent time preparing your CV. It remains the most important tool when directly applying for job vacancies. However, you have no doubt already discovered that your CV is actually a very prescriptive and limiting format. There will be important information about you that you couldn’t include and that you would like to share. It also isn’t readily available for anyone to read. Your LinkedIn profile affords you a different tool for the job market. One where you can brand yourself more completely, utilize your connections and get noticed.
I’ve already got a LinkedIn profile. Why should I keep reading?
Most of us set up a LinkedIn profile a long time ago. Most pilots have been in employment and perhaps haven’t understood or required the benefits of an effective LinkedIn presence.
However, the market has changed dramatically. There is now a glut of unemployed pilots actively seeking employment. Recruiters are working smarter. They use various tools and automation to screen candidates. LinkedIn is the most prevalent platform for this purpose. Recruiters have premium accounts that offer an advanced searching capability that allow them to target candidates by skills, experience, competencies, location, age, etc…
Therefore, it is critical that your profile is firstly up to date. Secondly, it is important that the content on your profile catches these search filters and engages the recruiter. Finally, it’s beneficial to be well connected as this will increase your visibility and will therefore lead to more opportunities.
It doesn’t take much time or effort but can have a big impact!
We’ve created 12 simple steps for you to follow. These are designed for you to progress through and most are fairly simple and quick to complete. Some are more involved. These steps will increase the value of our Linked In profile, develop your personal branding and therefore maximise your opportunities.
1. Profile Picture & Background Image
Unlike most CVs, you have an opportunity to show yourself. This is your first impression. Make it count!
For your profile picture, you would preferably use a professional photographer. However, if you can’t, here are the basic rules to make your own and get it right. Your picture should be taken by someone else (not a selfie) and recently taken. It’s important that it clearly shows your face (around 2/3 of the image should be your face) and it should look like you! You should be dressed in work style clothing, so can either be in uniform or normal suit and tie.
Use a plain and simple background.
The photo should be of high resolution and taken in soft or natural lighting. Be considerate with your use of filters. Remember the photo needs to look like you so avoid anything dramatic. LinkedIn comes with some simple filters that when used well can make photos look more professional and allow you to convey a more personal mood. Feel free to smile, however, as a pilot you need to remain professional and don’t want to appear too cheesy
Sitting above and behind your profile picture is a background image. This allows you to stand out and engage your audience. It can give your page some context. It can represent you, your interests or your profession. Ultimately it will make your page look different to others so something memorable, interesting but also relevant is most impactful.
The vast majority of profile headlines are simply job titles. This is fine. However, it can be impactful to add short and punchy statements about your role: what you do, why you do it and any relevant titles or qualifications. Look at some other profiles of people you follow for inspiration.
This is your chance to bring your profile to life and make it very personal. Don’t waste it. As discussed earlier, your CV is very restrictive, but your LinkedIn Summary is not. Spend time here. Think of your strengths, achievements, experiences and skills. Don’t just list them but create a story. Explain why you are great at your job. Demonstrate your passion and enthusiasm. Remember the pilot competencies can be useful inclusions here as they will almost certainly be searched for by recruiters. Also, think about your transferable skills from other roles and responsibilities you may have had. You are more than just a competent pilot. Sell your whole story.
This section is for your work history. Again, this can be expanded beyond simply dates and employer. The description box gives you the freedom to add more detail. Look to include key responsibilities, achievements, skill and knowledge development. Also, feel free to include details from roles outside of flying. Perhaps you have completed some charitable work or volunteered. Whatever the role, there may be opportunities to show how adaptable you are and that you have a broader range of interests and experiences than other candidates.
5. List your skills
LinkedIn allows you to list Skills. There will be pre-populated suggestions based on the details already entered but there is also a search function. Take time to consider your skills and particularly the ones that are relevant to you and the role of pilot. Consider using the IATA Core Competencies and Performance Indicators for inspiration. A longer list isn’t necessarily a better list.
However, given the multi-faceted role of a pilot along with additional experience you may have it would be expected that you should have a comprehensive list. Additionally, LinkedIn has a Skills Assessment Quiz. This is a non-jeopardy test, and you remain in control of whether to publish your results. It also allows you to retake the test. Ultimately it will display a validation next to certain skills that you have demonstrated. This can be seen as evidence and verification that you do have those skills as well as strengthening your personal brand.
6. LinkedIn Learning
Under the Work icon, you will find LinkedIn Learning. There is a huge range of courses on all manner of topics from IT skills to Problem Solving, Dealing with Stress to How to Rock an Interview. A lot is completely free, and you can also gain from a 1 month free trial with unlimited access. So, if you have a quiet period of little work, here’s a great chance to learn some interesting and varied subject matter. Once you’ve completed a course you can add the course certificate to your profile through the History section. This is a great way of demonstrating not only a passion for personal and professional development but can also help to alleviate potential concerns a recruiter may have should you have been out of work for a long period.
7. Grow your network
You’ve now got a great profile, let’s make you visible. The more connections you have the more likely you are to be viewed. Go through your history and think of people you would like to connect with. There will be groups from School, University, Employment, Sports, Interests that you may not think of immediately. The search function is highly intuitive. Strive to get yourself to 500+ connections. You can also sync contacts from email contacts. This can be highly effective. Finally, try to get in the habit of adding people you meet in relevant contexts. This will keep your contacts up-to-date, build new relationships and add fresh content to your feed.
LinkedIn allows your connections to substantiate your skills through endorsements. This validation increases your credibility and makes you appear respected by your peers. Recruiters value this. So how do you get endorsed? Well, start by endorsing others. By demonstrating your willingness to recognize the skills in others you will see the act is often reciprocated.
Furthermore, feel confident to message people asking for an endorsement. Of course, this has to be relevant, so pick someone who would have seen that skill demonstrated and therefore is comfortable with the endorsement. Also, think carefully about the key skills you want to have endorsed. These would be the ones to request. Finally, review your endorsements after a period and reflect on what it demonstrates. Does it evidence the skills you think are valuable for the role? Is it varied? If not, actively manage this with more requests.
Make use of this feature that allows others to write a short recommendation about you. This testimonial tells the story of what you are like to work with and is ideally delivered from previous managers but is also valid from past or present colleagues.
It is published on your profile. It is really simple to request recommendations using the menu function that allows you to personalize your message to the contact of your choosing. Take time and consider your request message and the person you are asking to ensure a high-quality recommendation that adds maximum value to your profile. Furthermore, it is also good to offer recommendations for others. These too are visible on your profile and demonstrate a team player who works well with others and forms strong working relationships.
10. Share content and comment
You now have a good network of connections. It’s time to get active. An easy way to start is simply sharing. Share articles, news, blogs that interest you and are aligned with your views. Have a look at your feed and you should find some material to get started. Sharing content means that you will start to appear on the feeds of your network. It adds value to that connection. But even more effective is commenting.
Rather than just sharing, start offering your views, thoughts and ideas. This gives a more personal connection and is much more likely to promote engagement and start a conversation. Be careful that your comment remains positive and puts forward the correct impression for future employers.
11. Thought Leadership
This is where your voice becomes respected as an expert in a specific field. This takes time to develop but can be very powerful. If you have specific knowledge of an area or decide to research it further, tell your network through posts.
Over time your opinion will really matter, and you can find people approach you for your insight. If you publish any work on other platforms you can link to it through the Publications application on LinkedIn so that it appears on your profile.
12. Join Groups
There are lots of groups on LinkedIn. Some have very large membership numbers and importantly very active feeds. They are easy to search, and by joining some in the aviation and recruitment arena, you will stay active with developments and opportunities while also increasing your visibility.
Engage in groups that interest you and join the conversation. It’s an effortless and effective way to stay current and involved, especially if unemployed. Consider also following some Influencers who are relevant to you and the role of pilot. This will put different and interesting content on your feed which you can then share or comment on to start some conversations.