LinkedIn secrets

Jan 10, 2018
Go beyond the basics to understand how LinkedIn really works and how you can use it to your advantage.

LinkedIn recently reached 500 million members globally, with well in excess of one million members in Ireland. Members traditionally thought of (and used!) LinkedIn to access new jobs. However, the platform has come a long way since then. Finance professionals now use it to share their ideas, concepts and experience while leaders and managers use it to showcase their personal brands and the curious use it to find the answer to the question: “Where am I now?”

For the modern, discerning finance professional, participation on LinkedIn is no longer optional; it has become mandatory. So, the question now isn’t “Should I use LinkedIn?” Rather, the questions is “How should I use LinkedIn?”

Jump past the basics

We are not going to insult your intelligence by telling you to use a good photo, to bullet-point your experience and to refrain from treating LinkedIn like Facebook. Let’s assume you know the basics and a quick Google will get you lots of advice on the vanilla stuff. Instead, we are going to look at a few ways that, as a finance professional, you can get more out of LinkedIn.

Focus on key words

First, play the key word search game like a pro. Companies looking for talent and LinkedIn algorithms looking to push relevant roles into your feed all play the same game. If you have a word (or a combination of words) on your profile, then you are more likely to come up in a search for those words. Simple in principle, but not so simple in practice.

To give yourself the best opportunity to be discovered, you have to cover off as many angles as possible. One company’s financial controller is another companies ‘FC’ or head of finance or finance director or financial director. Likewise, one company’s commercial finance manager is another’s ‘FP&A’ manager or senior business partner. One company’s CFO is another’s chief financial officer. Speak the language of the market, not the internal nomenclature you are used to using. This goes for job titles as well as for your summary section and role descriptions. It also goes for accounting specific terminology and for general industry terminology (e.g. manufacturing, FMCG, pharmaceutical etc.) alike.

Slam your summary

Get your summary section working for you. Your summary section is key – you can use it to your advantage. It is more ‘free-form’ than your experience in specific companies.  You should use it to give an overview of your experience and industries but, more importantly, you can use it to include words on your profile that you otherwise could not. For example, you may not have experience in FMCG or software companies, but you can state the following: “I have a variety of industry experience ranging from A to B to C and a genuine interest in the broader FMCG and software industries”. Take this concept, work it around your aspirations for the future, and give yourself the best opportunity to be discovered out there.

Be a qualified success

Watch out for the classic mistake of the Chartered Accountant. Achieving fellowship of Chartered Accountants Ireland is a tremendous achievement – something to be proud of. You become an ACA or FCA in time. Here is the thing about the letters “FCA” – they almost never appear in a job spec and are almost never searched for on LinkedIn. The terms searched for include ACA or “Chartered Accountant”. Consider using phrasing like “ACA (Fellow)” for your profile to make sure you give yourself the best chance of being discovered.

Other opportunities

The above points are just the basics. You can participate in group discussions, keep up-to-date on trends, share content, post your ideas and experience to help others and lots more. Get the basics right first and then get thinking about how else you can use the platform and how much you want to get involved. Like anything in life, you will get out of it what you put into it.

Who knows you?

Before LinkedIn, the saying went “It’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know”. That saying just doesn’t cut it these days. The 21st century version is “It’s not so much about who you know, but rather who knows you.” That’s where LinkedIn comes into its own.