14 Ways to Use LinkedIn
I decided to write this article, about 14 ways to use LinkedIn to get contract work, after a LinkedIn campaign of my own to add more contractors to my connections.
Some of the LinkedIn profiles of contractors that I saw left much to be desired. I thought I would give them some advice. I’m now up to nearly 18,200 connections which should be good for future networking.
I post all my articles on LinkedIn, as well as Twitter and Facebook, and it has meant that I now get more article reads.
Recruiters Find LinkedIn Useful
So, how can contractors and freelancers use LinkedIn to get more contract work.
As you know, in the kingdom of the blind, the man with one eye is king.
Recruiters find LinkedIn very useful and 70% of them say that they use LinkedIn for recruiting purposes.
Therefore, it is just as important to have a good LinkedIn Profile as it is to have a good CV.
So, here is sone advice I can give to help freelancers.
Get Your Profile Heading Right
When a recruitment consultant, from an agency, is searching for people with certain skills, they’ll get a whole load of freelancers come up with the requisite skills, perhaps in the hundreds.
However, all they’ll see when they get that list on their screens are the profile heading details.
Therefore you need to get the most important data about yourself into that heading.
If they can’t find what they want from your heading, recruitment agencies won’t click on your profile.
They may have hundreds more to see. They want to cut that number to a more manageable number of CVs to look at more closely.
If you don’t make the cut because of the information in that profile heading then you are out the game. You won’t be considered for the contract.
Your CV won’t even be sent to the client for a contract for which you may be perfect.
Call Yourself a Contractor or Freelancer in the LinkedIn Heading
Contractors like to call themselves a number of things.
The majority call themselves contractors with freelancers next.
They are both fine.
Calling yourself an Interim is fine too.
Others call themselves Independent, e.g. Independent IT Professional.
Independent from what?
Is that a contractor or not?
Great Ways to Use LinkedIn
It probably is, but as the agency has loads of people who call themselves contractors or freelancers in front of them, and if they have a load of CVs to look at, they’ll go for them first.
Then there’s those that like to call themselves Consultants rather than Contractors.
Now, there are internal consultants at companies. There are also consultants who work for the big consultancy companies.
The recruiter searching for contractors will not know what kind of consultant you are.
As they already have loads of people in their search who call themselves contractors or freelancers with the skills they are looking for, they won’t go to the trouble of finding out which type of consultant you are.
So, you’ll probably miss out.
Bad Ways to Use LinkedIn
There are others who like to give themselves even grander titles.
There are those who like to put that they are a company director in their profile heading – without specifying that it is of their own Limited Companies.
They may name the company where they are the director but the agency is not going to go to the bother of finding out whether this person is a limited company contractor or the owner of a small software company.
There are others who put themeselves as ‘owners’ of their limited companies, or even ‘founders’.
This may sound very impressive but it is not going to get you on the shortlist when an agency is trawling for contractors with particular skills.
Something like “IT Software Developer Contractor / Freelancer” would be good.
Connect With Recruitment Agencies
The most important people for you to connect to, on LinkedIn, are recruitment companies and recruitment consultants.
We don’t use LinkedIn very well in our profession – except for recruitment companies.
Recruitment agencies and recruiters find it a very useful tool to find contractors and freelancers.
Most recruitment consultants have connections in the thousands and mainly to contractors.
It is a lot cheaper for them to find candidates via LinkedIn, even when using the Premium service, than by using Job boards.
They may still use job boards but they will have a look on LinkedIn first to see if they can find people with the requisite skills.
So, being connected to as many recruitment companies and recruitment consultants as you can may mean that you can get your CV sent out to a client without the agency putting the details on a job board for general consumption.
Those contracts where you have as few competitors as possible are the ones you want.
Put Your Availability for Contract
Make sure you have your availability specified and keep this up to date.
Some contractors put Unavailable so that they don’t get agencies bothering them when they are in a contract.
However, every contractor or freelancer is available sometime.
Instead of Unavailable put Available March.
Good Ways to Use LinkedIn to Get Contracts
Better still, put it on the heading line of your profile so that recruitment consultants can see it when they are making their trawl of LinkedIn connections with the appropriate skills for a contract.
The profile heading would now read “IT Software Developer Contractor / Freelancer Available March”.
That would put you well ahead of those with something like “IT Company Director Unavailable”.
Put Your Main Skills in the LinkedIn Profile Heading
If you are a Java developer or a C++ developer put that in the Profile Heading.
That would make your profile heading “IT Software Developer Contractor / Freelancer C++ Available March”.
That tells a recruiter or client a lot about you.
Better still, you will come up in more searches by recruitment companies.
Connect With as Many Client Companies Where You Have Contracted as Possible
Firstly, there are your primary clients.
These are people who have hired you at their companies previously but the work has ended and your contract was up.
Connect with them via LinkedIn. Tell them to message you if something else comes up in the future. Tell them they can check your availability.
It may be an opportunity to find a lucrative direct contract.
When I was a Project Manager, and then CIO, there were many times when I would have liked to have re-hired a contractor who had worked previously at the company. However, no one knew how they could be contacted.
We could have taken them direct but sometimes the agency couldn’t even find them if they had changed addresses or phone numbers.
Those contractors may well have been sitting at home, out of work, and worrying about the next mortgage payment.
Connect With as Many Secondary Clients as You Can
Connect with as many clients as you can, even those with whom you’ve never worked.
How do you do this?
There are several ways.
Firstly, at places where you are on contract there are often other departments who hire contractors with the same skills.
There may be nothing available at the moment.
However, ask hirers there to connect with you on LinkedIn and tell them to have a look at your profile or send a message to you if something does come up.
Seconldy ask your fellow contractors if they have any contacts at firms where they have contracted before.
You could even swap connections, i.e. swap names so you can ask hirers at those companies to connect.
More Great Ways to Use LinkedIn
Thirdly, you can make some use of interviews for jobs you either didn’t take or didn’t get.
If you didn’t take the job, maybe because you got a better offer, ask the hirer if you can connect with them so that, if they have something in future, and you are available, they can contact you.
Even if you didn’t get the contract it maybe that they would take you for a future role.
You don’t lose anything by asking them to connect with you.
If they do connect, send them a further email saying that if any work does come up in the future, you would be happy for them to contact you about it.
Let Everyone Know When You Are Available for Contract
It may well say on your Profile Heading that you are available, or will soon be available, for contract work.
It may already say that in your profile heading but potential clients, or recruitment consultants, may not get to see that.
They may not be searching.
You can be more proactive than that.
You can put out a message on LinkedIn telling all your potential hirers and recruitment agency connections that you are now available for contract work, or will be shortly.
i’m surprised how few contractors put when they are available on their Profile Heading. It is crucial information for agencies and clients.
Endorse Connections for Skills
You get an opportunity to endorse people you know, and have worked with, for certain skills.
Take this opportunity.
LinkedIn will tell them that you have endorsed them for those skills.
Who wouldn’t be pleased with that.
They may well feel that they should reciprocate and endorse you for certain skills.
Potential clients and recruitment agencies will look at those endorsements when they are considering whom they will forward for interview.
Try to make sure that the skills that you really want to put to the fore are the ones that where you get the most endorsements.
When I look at the skills endorsements sector I want to learn what are your strongest skills.
I will conclude it is the ones where you have the most endorsements.
A client and recruitment consultant will come to that conclusion too.
Study an Interviewer’s LinkedIn Profile Before Interview
It was always said to be an advantage to find out more about a company before you go to an interview.
If you are asked at an interview “Have you heard of us before?” and you say you haven’t, you would have lost an opportunity.
Now, there is an opportunity, via social media, and specifically, LinkedIn, to find out more about the person who is going to be interviewing you.
You can find out their skills, their history, and maybe even what they are interested in, e.g. hobbies. They may say in their profile what they care about, e.g. world poverty.
This gives you a great opportunity not just to connect on LinkedIn but to connect on a human level.
They say that if your interviewer likes you then they are far more likely to give you the job or contract.
If you have a shared view on world poverty, or the environment, or cruelty to animals then they are far more likely to like you.
Put Most important Skills in Your Summary
You should highlight your most important skills in your LinkedIn Summary, i.e. the ones you have used the most and the ones where you think you will have the best chance of getting work.
Don’t leave what you consider to be unimportant skills out. Many a freelancer has left out skills like HTML or SQL believing they were minor skills.
If a client gives a recruiter a job specification, the recruiter may not be aware which skills are important and which are unimportant.
They will simply do a search using all the skills on the job spec.
If it says HTML and SQL amongst the other, more importants, skills and there are people who appear on the search with those skills, and you don’t, then they have a chance of landing that contract and you don’t.
Make sure you have a link to your website, if you have one, on the profile summary.
Also, only the top 5 lines, or so, are visible without clicking on More, so make sure that your most important stuff is on the top 5 lines and the most easily visible.
List Your Previous Companies AND Agencies
Some people, just put Freelancer and don’t put the companies where they worked.
That would immediately cause a recruiter or company to be suspicious.
Most freelancers do list the companies where they worked and the skills used there.
However, very few put the agency they worked through.
Provided that you think they will say good things about you, this might give you an advantage.
The freelance recruitment industry is a lot smaller than the freelance industry and those recruiters searching for contractors may know someone at the agency – or even have worked there themselves.
Get as Many LinkedIn Recommendations as Possible
The more people who hired you who give you good recommendations the better. Add, also, the agencies you worked through to the list of recommendations.
If you can get all the people who ever hired you on that list, and get all the recruiters you worked through, to recommend you then that would be a very impressive tool for getting work.
How do you get them to recommend you?
Well you could just ask them either personally or by contacting them via LinkedIn to ask them.
You could, aternatively, recommend them, which LinkedIn will tell them about, and hope that they will reciprocate.
Make Sure You Include Your Email Address
It seems very strange, to me, that someone would join a networking social media website, especially LinkedIn, and then not include their email address so that they can be contacted more easily.
I have to say that the vast majority of freelancers do include their email address in their profile.
However, there are still some that don’t.
You want to get as many advantages as possible on your main rivals – your fellow freelancers who have the same skills as you have.
Successful Freelancing – Ways to Use LinkedIn
The more often you are found by recruiters looking for people with the skills you have the better opportunities you will get to get put in front of clients.
The more information that you have on your profile that they will find useful, the more clients you are going to be put in front of.
That is the rout to successful freelancing.
Well, that is 14 ways to use LinkedIn to get contract work. Do you know any more? Use the comments section below.
This article was written after advice from experienced recruiter Jodie Dobinson who uses LinkedIn very effectively to find freelancers for contract opportunities.