How to Make Your LinkedIn Profile Stand Out as a Scientist
Looking for a job on LinkedIn? You’re not alone. 95 job applications are submitted every second on the platform, and just 6 people are hired every minute.
In this saturated talent market, knowing how to make your LinkedIn profile stand out can be key to unlocking opportunities today, and establishing the right scientific network to pave your career progression pathway for the future.
With more than 58 million companies hiring through the platform, and a global member base of 850 million, the chances are your next scientific endeavour is just a few clicks away.
Read on to find out:
- Why LinkedIn is important for scientists
- What an All-Star profile looks like on LinkedIn
- 5 LinkedIn profile essentials for scientists
Why is LinkedIn Important for scientists?
While 67% of science PhD students initially want a career in academia, just 30% of this group stay in research 3 years on. The remaining 70% of PhD holders either go into their own research or pursue a career in the wider industry.
This isn’t to say that a career in academia and scientific networks aren’t important, but it’s key to remember that priorities and motivations often alter with time.
Whether you choose to work inside, or outside of academia, LinkedIn can be a valuable tool in establishing new networks after scientific conferences, or to strengthen global research connections by directly connecting with your fellow researchers.
LinkedIn can also play a critical role in helping you bridge the gap between your networks and future work opportunities. In just a few clicks you can easily identify where people work, get a glimpse into company culture, and check whether there are any hiring opportunities – or even message your contact directly to check.
What is an All-Star profile on LinkedIn?
LinkedIn uses strength scores to rate individual profiles, ascribing a ‘Beginner’, ‘Intermediate’ and ‘All-Star’ status according to profile completion level.
An All-Star profile on LinkedIn refers to a profile where all recommended actions have been taken as per the ‘Suggested for you’ indications. All-Star profiles are important, as profile strength level influences the reach of your posts – All-Star profiles have 1.5x normal reach.
What’s more, according to LinkedIn, applicants with All-Star profiles are 40x more likely to receive opportunities through LinkedIn.
Generally, the key components you’re looking to complete for an All-Star status include:
- Profile photo – a profile photo showing you alone (no group images), with a simple background can increase your likelihood of being found by recruiters on the platform by 7x.
- Education – Connect with your fellow alumni and showcase your academic achievements
- Skills and Expertise – Skills and Expertise can be listed to make it clear what you do and can help you show up for technical searches.
- Experience – Including just your two most recent positions makes it 12x more likely that a recruiter finds your platform
- Recommendations – Ask your previous clients, co-workers or business partners to write recommendations of your work to boost your credibility.
5 LinkedIn profile essentials for scientists
1. Detail your skills and experience
Recruiters use a special version of LinkedIn called ‘LinkedIn Recruiter’ to search for candidates, where we can perform keyword searches to find the profiles of people that best match the jobs we’re hiring for. This process mirrors the way recruiters search for CVs through job boards, as mentioned in our past article.
As recruiters filter by skills-associated keywords, it’s critical for scientific candidates to include keywords of any techniques or specialist skills within their profile. You can do this through the ‘Skills’ section (endorsements aren’t critical so don’t worry about listing skills without them). You can also use the ‘Summary’ section to go into further detail about your overall experience and key areas of interest.
I would also recommend including a short description of your duties under each job you list in the ‘Experience’ section, and details about your course under ‘Education’.
2. Broaden your network
Having very few, or even no connections, can make it difficult for recruiters to find your profile, due to the way searching works via LinkedIn Recruiter. It’s important to try to build a network of co-workers past and present, researchers, collaborators, mentors, people who were on your course at university, and even friends.
You don’t necessarily need to add hundreds of people immediately, especially if you’re just starting out in your career, but you should slowly build this up as your career progresses. A good starting point to aim for is 75-100 connections.
As you build this network, you can ask previous or current colleagues/managers/clients/academic supervisors to write you a recommendation. While recommendations aren’t essential, they can boost your credibility to employers. You can send people a message asking for a LinkedIn recommendation on the “Recommendations” section of your LinkedIn profile. When asking for these I’d be mindful not to pressure or pester people. Additionally, if you ask your current managers for recommendations, they may suspect that you’re looking for other work.
3. Showcase your education
It’s important to include a complete educational history in your profile, particularly as a scientist. If you’ve attained any awards or certificates, you can add these in the ‘Licences and Certifications’ or ‘Honours and Awards’ sections as appropriate.
Additionally, if your work has been published in any journals, you can detail this within the ‘Publications’ section, adding details of your project, as well as any scientific posters as a pdf, to improve the visibility of your work to prospective connections and employers.
4. Be attentive, and respond to messages
If you respond to recruiters’ InMails, the LinkedIn Recruiter system often shows you as ‘more likely to respond’ when looking at your profile. This means that you’re more noticeable to recruiters, and improves your chances of being messaged by recruiters, or even companies directly, with opportunities. It's good practice to respond to messages, even if it’s to politely voice your disinterest in a position, to provide you with that advantage.
5. Keep your profile up to date.
A final factor to consider is keeping on top of employment dates. Often, profiles on LinkedIn don’t include the end dates for their different positions, so their profiles appear to say that the person is working in nearly 10 different jobs at once. This isn’t a deal breaker for recruiters, but profiles that are neater and more organised give a better first impression and can help you stand out from the crowd.
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