LinkedIn is a fairly unique social media platform. It is not one where you wax lyrical about your children…..nor is it one to share the antics of a night out. It is used by professionals for professionals and nowadays if you are job hunting, I would say it is essential to be on it. It is widely used by recruiters to find candidates and it is also used by hiring managers and interviewers to check out the person that they are going to be meeting.

But if you’ve been on a career break for a while, your LinkedIn profile could be festering in the depths of the internet somewhere. Here are our top tips to dust it off and bring it bang up to date so it can be used as another tool in your job search.

1)      Photo: While it’s generally a no-no in this country for a photo to be on a CV, it’s widely accepted that a photo is necessary on your profile. You’re 7x more likely to have your profile viewed if you have one. Make sure it screams ‘professional’ and not ‘parent’. Have someone take your picture against a neutrally coloured wall.

2)      Headline: Make it memorable….make it eye-catching. Keep it to a max of 3 lines. It should include your value proposition not just your last company and job title. Yes you’re a project manager…but what do you actually do in a snapshot (e.g. consistently delivering multi-faceted projects within budget and on time)

 3)      Summary:  Your chance to demonstrate your skills and experience without the confines of job titles and dates. Use the first person. Demonstrate your experience and use keywords that recruiters will be looking for. Come across as authentic…why do you enjoy what you do/what you’re looking for. Feel free to share personal interests – you want to come across as individual instead of generic. You don’t want people to be put off by the fact that you’ve been on a career break. Instead, you want to come across as still having your ‘head in the game’ and that you’re just itching to jump back in (you might be nervous as anything but DON’T let that come across). Finish with a call to action – you want people to get right on the phone and call you with exciting marketing opportunities, don’t you?

 4)      Career history: Make this as clear as possible. Any gaps should be shown as intentional. Yes, you’ve been on a childcare career break for 3 years – include it with dates and then move on. If you’ve done any volunteering work or anything else apart from keeping small humans alive, add this in here. Again….keywords are essential. If you’re looking at job descriptions for roles that you’re interested in, what words are being used over and over again?

 5)      Skills: You’re 13x more likely to be viewed if you add in skills. Try to have a minimum of 5 and have them in priority order. Get in touch with ex-colleagues and ex-managers and ask them to endorse you for particular skills (quid pro quo – you can also do it for them – win-win!)

 6)      Connections and Recommendations: If your profile has become a bit stale, get active and start making new connections. Over 300 is fab….over 500 is gold! Have you met anyone whilst being on a childcare break that has already gone back to work? Check whether there are ex-clients, ex-colleagues or ex-managers that are now on LinkedIn and send them an invite. Include a quick note explaining that you’re wanting to connect and that you’re starting to think about returning to work. Once connected, can any of these write you a LinkedIn recommendation? An ex-client about a wonderful marketing campaign that you ran or an ex-manager about what a fantastic employee you are?

Once you’re back up and running, I’d suggest jumping on LinkedIn daily and keeping your name front of mind by liking and commenting on other people’s posts. People love real-life stories on LinkedIn – particularly one that has left you feeling inspired or having learnt a lesson. So if something happens to you, especially in terms of your job search…feel free to share it. However, remember this is not Facebook! The story of how DD woke you up at 5 am and insisted on watching CBeebies is not appropriate.

Yes, this might seem like a lot of work…but just keep telling yourself that this could be the key to jumping back into the working world and this extra preparation could land you your dream job! 

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