Although a person’s value can’t be established by their appearance alone, the reality is that, as professionals, we’re always selling our skills and experience, whether to a client, colleague, investor or partner.
Our professional image becomes our metaphorical ‘shop window’ and it’s important that it helps us to display ourselves appropriately.
LinkedIn has unveiled the results from its New Norms @ Work study, and there were some fascinating traits emerging from, what appear to be, an increasingly image-conscious UK workforce.
Almost half would judge a colleague by their appearance and a quarter of young professionals take their initial impression of a person from their online appearance.
We looked at the results of the study and pulled together five simple steps to set you on the road to creating a ‘professional brand’ on LinkedIn.
1. Get online
If you don’t already have a LinkedIn profile, it’s time you took the plunge. Face-to-face contact will always be important, but if you don’t have a profile you’re invisible to the 18 million professionals (that’s almost a third of the UK’s population) that are communicating, collaborating and recruiting on the network.
2. Put a face to your name
They say a picture speaks a thousand words, and this is particularly true when it comes to building a professional brand. Potential employers or clients are likely to search for you online before they meet you and a blank space where there should be a professional photo won’t create the right impression.
This is an area in which we can all learn from millennials, who change their LinkedIn pictures most, and as a result get the most profile views.
Applying for jobs? Read our tips for writing a killer CV.
3. Intelligent honesty
Our findings reveal that older workers are the most likely to admit to being fired from a job; over 55s are twice as likely tell the truth than 18-34 year old.
While it’s best to be upfront, make sure you’re putting a positive spin on past experience. Turn career challenges into positives by showing how you overcame them - it’s one of the best ways to demonstrate determination and problem solving skills.
4. Bolster your negotiation skills
One of the huge advantages that mature professionals have is their rich experience. As a result, over 55s are much less likely to be “yes” employees, and tend to make their voice heard and negotiate with their employers.
Being able to explain your value clearly will make these negotiations easier. Make a list of your skills and illustrate them with real-life examples. On LinkedIn you can also upload work you’re particularly proud of, and show your network what you have to offer.
Read our job hunting tips for the over-50s
5. Get value from variety
Naturally, it’s important to demonstrate that you’re great at your specific job role, but a professional brand can be so much more than that. Draw attention to voluntary work, hobbies and other areas of expertise to paint a more interesting picture of who you are.
In fact, many employers think voluntary experience is as valuable as a paid position, and if you indicate on LinkedIn that you’re interested in donating your skills, charities in need of volunteers will be able to find you.