Marc Mencher is founder and CEO of GameRecruiter and author of Get in the Game!, an instructional book on building a career in the video game industry. In this first in a series of articles on managing your career in the games industry, Marc offers advice on creating a LinkedIn profile for job hunting and networking.
You Will Get Hired Based on What the Internet Reveals About You
68% of U.S. employers will offer someone a job because they like what the Internet discloses about them. Things that generate a positive online presence include your ability to write or express yourself well; the wide range of interests you exhibit; the creativity or professionalism you demonstrate.
The Internet is Your New Resume!
90% of all U.S. Employers have visited a Job Hunters profile on social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook. That is why it’s most important to keep your profiles updated. There is nothing that will make you look less professional than having incomplete or outdated online profiles.
Clean Up Your Online Presence or get REJECTED!
70% of U.S. employers reject applicants based on what they find about them on the Internet! Things that can get you rejected: spelling or grammar mistakes, signs of racism, prejudice or excessive political opinion postings; anything indicating you lied on the resume you submitted; anything indicating alcohol or drug abuse. Think about how you would like to come across online and post accordingly.
Best Website for Your Career – LinkedIn!
LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, YouTube, Instagram, etc. are all great tools that today’s job hunter and networker need to consider using. However, LinkedIn is the most important of these sites. A LinkedIn profile can substitute for a resume and be used as the hub for your networking activity. Realize Human Resources, Hiring Managers, Recruiters, even people you meet socially will check out your LinkedIn profile and form all kinds of opinions about you.
Keep Your Job Hunt Discreet –Customize Your LinkedIn Settings
When you make any additions, or change to your LinkedIn profile, notifications saying that you have done so are posted out to your entire network of connections. Receiving several of these notices about your profile is a telltale sign to recruiters, employers and the entire LinkedIn network that you’re job hunting. I STRONGLY suggest you adjust the following 11 settings. The privacy settings are easy to find:
Just sign in, and then select: the me (pulldown). Navigate to ‘Settings & Privacy’. You are presented with 3 main options: Account, Privacy and Communications. I recommend changing the following settings.
- Manage Active Status - Here you can change who can see you when you are active on LinkedIn. You can specifically block profiles. HIDE your activity status from your current CEO, Boss or Work Associates.
- Who Can See Your Connections – While you could allow all your LinkedIn connections to see your entire network, I recommend the ONLY YOU option. Members will still be able to see connections who endorse you and connections they share with you unless you turn this feature off also.
- Sharing Profile Edits – Change this option to NO! This will stop all your activity broadcasts, so the entire LinkedIn network is not notified when you make profile changes.
- Profile Viewing Options – Here you can change what others see when you view their profile. LinkedIn’s default setting will show your name and headline. This is not helpful if you're operating in stealth mode. Choose the ANONYMOUS / PRIVATE option so other LinkedIn members do not know you looked at their profile.
- Notifying Connections When You’re in The News – Select YES and let your connections know when you are mentioned in the news, articles or blog posts.
- Who Can See Your Last Name – It's a big turn off to hide your last name from people on a networking site. It creates a negative vibe; What are you hiding? Make sure your Full Name is showing so folks on and off LinkedIn can easily find your profile.
- Sharing Your Profile When You Click Apply – Choose if you want to share your profile with a Job Poster when you click apply to a LinkedIn job ad.
- Let Recruiter Know Your Open to Opportunities – I would select NO. I don’t want a ton of Recruiter’s approaching me daily. If you select Yes, LinkedIn does try not to show your current company that you're open to recruiters, but can’t guarantee privacy.
- Who Can Discover Your Profile via Your Email Address or Phone Number – I would choose the EVERYONE option. Why make it difficult to find you on LinkedIn?
- Salary Data on LinkedIn – I would NOT fill this out. You seek to learn about all career opportunities. Want to know more about me? Connect and Ask!
- Profile Visibility off LinkedIn – Select YES and allow your profile information to be shared by permitted services such as search engines like Google.
Since LinkedIn is the most important online tool for job hunting, networking, professional branding, and showcasing your abilities, skills and experience. Designing a profile that stands out from the crowd, is easily found and properly represents you is VITAL. Let’s start with the profile Photo you choose to use. Your photo is a very important part of your profile. Surveys show that employers are turned on by a Head Shot. The likelihood that your profile will get viewed increases 10-fold with the proper image. Choose a photo with just your head and shoulders. If you can’t find an image you like, then hire a professional photographer. Tips for your photo:
- Your photo should be only you. Do not include your spouse, children, pets, etc.
- Use a current picture so people aren’t surprised when they meet you in person.
- SMILE - Select a photo in which you appear friendly in an authentic way.
- Dress in a professional manner that is appropriate for your industry. Typically, this means a dress shirt or blouse, a shirt and tie, or even a suit. However, in the Game Industry for example, a suit would be overkill and look odd.
- Avoid white; it can make you appear washed out.
- Avoid busy backgrounds, standing against a solid-colored background is best.
Change Your Headline! Don’t allow it to default to your boring work title. You want to tell people what you do while also being compelling enough to make people want to learn more about you. Especially if your job title is different from the industry norm or does not contain the words normally used when searching for someone who does what you do, use the Headline area to add the proper title. This area is also great for adding your specialties, industry focus or what you are known most for.
- Software Engineer – you’re a Game Programmer specializing in Rendering or Server, etc.
- Animator – you’re an Animator specializing in 3D or 2D or CGI or Rotoscoping, etc.
- Game Designer - you’re a Designer specializing in Level or Content or Systems or UI, etc.
Your Job Titles
A job title can describe the level of the job or the responsibilities of the position. For example: Vice President, Director or Manager. Other job titles reflect what the person does in the job. For example: iOS Game Programmer, VFX Artist or Level Designer. If your current job title is not the norm for your Industry than adjust it for your LinkedIn profile. For example, if internally you are called a Software Engineer III, but to the outside world you are really managing a team, use words like Team Lead or Manager. These titles are more descriptive of your true job function.
Your Summary Section
What is your Competitive Advantage? What makes you a Better Hire than others? With your target audience in mind, use the Summary section to succinctly showcase your specialty or value proposition. The more specific you can be about what sets you apart from the competition, the better. Ideally, your summary should be ~ 3 paragraphs long. Present as much information as you can without losing the readers interest. Suggestions:
- Bulletize or highlight key skills, qualifications and the results you achieved.
- Write in a way that allows for your personality to shine. Avoid writing in 3rd person or lengthy explanations as this often lands as negative for the reader.
- Include numbers or facts that prove success and establish credibility.
- Show examples - LinkedIn lets you add photos, videos, and presentations to your summary.
- Add contact information like your email and telephone number here. Don’t make it difficult to reach out to you.
- Struggling with what to add to the Summary section, locate several job ads for the position you’re after. Make sure the words, phrases and industry jargon that is used is sprinkled throughout your summary.
Your Work Experience
Job Titles don’t really tell the full story of what you do, therefore work experience descriptions are important. I am not a fan of trying to get my profile to exactly mirror my resume. A resume is too much data to share. Most people are interested in quickly checking you out. You have less than ~1 minute of their attention, so I try to create a profile that with a glance establishes credibility and communicates my value and ability. Use this space to summarize some of your achievements in each of the jobs you have held. Suggestions:
- Tell a succinct story of how you did it and back it up with facts or figures.
- Use the keywords and industry jargon.
- Describe what you do, using action words such as led, grew, managed, reduced, etc.
- Use the present tense for your current job and past tense for previous jobs.
- Don't overdo Bulletizing or Bolding. Don’t make your profile daunting to read!
Skills & Endorsements Section
Skills Get Your Profile Attention. According to LinkedIn, profiles with more skills listed get up to 17 times more views. Think of LinkedIn as a search engine and the Skills & Endorsements section as the SEO for your profile. In this section list all your skills, which other LinkedIn users can endorse. The more skills you list the better, however you are limited to 50 keywords. If you’re not sure what skills to include, check out other folks on LinkedIn who have similar backgrounds and see what they use.
Research the keywords that you should include for each job. If in doubt, take a look at your actual job description and the essential and desirable skills required for the job you are doing and review the profiles of your colleagues and peers.
Customize Your URL
When you create a LinkedIn profile, you will automatically be assigned a LinkedIn URL address. These addresses are a mix of numbers and letters and don’t make sense to a Human. I recommend you use some form of your name as your LinkedIn URL address. For example, I edited my URL to www.linkedin.com/in/marcmencher as this is much easier to remember. To do this, navigate to the Edit Profile screen and look for the Edit Public Profile & URL button. Change your auto-generated URL to what you want your address to be. If you have a common name and the URL you want is already taken, instead of First and Last name, try First Initial and Last name or other combinations until your successful. The result will be that it is much easier to remember and connect with you on LinkedIn.
Add Websites & Links
Add links to your LinkedIn profile that you feel will help your profile and experience stand out. Your Blog, Twitter, a video of you discussing some area of your expertise. Don’t forget about links to any articles you may have written.
Use the add media function to add a link to the Summary, Employment or Education sections of your profile. You can also insert 3 URLs in the contact section of your profile. Select “Edit Profile” from the Profile Menu, which will show an “Edit Contact Info” prompt.
LinkedIn offers you several pre-populated website types like “Company Website” or “Blog” but you can also customize the website type by selecting the “Other” option where LinkedIn will give you a Website Title prompt, followed by a URL prompt second.
Ask for a Recommendations! Recommendations are a vital component of your LinkedIn profile. They land as References or Endorsements of your work abilities and skills.
Recommendations carry a lot of weight. Often, before you are selected for an interview a recruiter or hiring manager will check you out on LinkedIn to see who is recommending you. You want Recommendations from co-workers, supervisors, or even clients affirming your skills, accomplishments and positive work style.
Avoid posting generic recommendations like: “Marc was great to work with”. You seek a more detailed recommendation with facts and figures like: “Marc found the Server Game Programmer we were seeking within 3 weeks of being assigned the search. His ability to move quickly allowed us to release our product on time and avoided a $1 million-dollar penalty”.
When asking for a Recommendation, don’t be afraid to specify what you’d like the recommender to focus on. People tend to only remember their own contributions. I would encourage you to help the person you have approached for a Recommendation by providing them a draft of what you suggest they could write on your behalf. Give them all the relevant facts and figures so they do not have to remember nor research. Refresh their memory tubes on what you accomplished when you worked together. Make it easy for someone to edit, customize or create a powerful Recommendation.
Once you have completely updated and filled out your LinkedIn profile, then you can join groups.
Groups are an incredible resource and very powerful way to increase the reach of your LinkedIn network. While you can join up to 50 groups, I suggest you initially focus on joining ~35 leaving yourself room to add new groups in the future.
If you're using LinkedIn for job hunting you want to join groups related to your industry, profession, and expertise. If you're using LinkedIn for prospecting, then join groups where your target prospects would participate.
I find groups great for establishing credibility and helping me focus my networking activity. Groups connect you to people relevant in your field, just like attending a networking event does. Join the larger size groups you find, avoid small or inactive groups. Make it a point to occasionally post to each of the groups you have joined when a topic you can contribute on is being discussed. Be aware that LinkedIn will remove you from a group if you don’t contribute.
- Become an Author - LinkedIn’s allows all users to write and publish their work. Share your perspective about what’s going on in your industry. Discuss issues facing folks in your career specialty. Talk about using new technologies, etc. This is a GREAT way to get noticed on LinkedIn and establish yourself as an expert.
- Check Spelling & Grammar!
- Link Your Job to The Company – If your current or past companies where you have worked have a Company LinkedIn page, make sure you properly link this page to your profile. This way the company logo will show on your profile and your profile will also show up if someone searches past or present employees of that company.
- Manage Your Endorsements - Endorsements can be a great way to show off your skills. The way to get Endorsements working for you is to keep your skills updated. As you develop new skills, drop outdated skills from your profile.
- Add Supporting Information - LinkedIn allows you to upload images, PowerPoint presentations and PDF files to specific jobs. These can be used to support what you have written in your job description.
- Add Projects, Volunteer Experiences, or Languages - Do you speak a foreign language? Have a specialized certification? Learning something new? Add these types of things to your profile.
About the Author
Game Programmer / Technical Producer-turned-Recruiter and Career Coach, Marc Mencher has been in the Game Industry for 27 years. He is the founder and CEO of GameRecruiter.
Marc began his career working for Spectrum Holobyte, Microprose and The 3DO Company. While he enjoyed coding, through the experience of developing product and leading teams, he realized that his true passion was helping people plan and manage their careers.
Marc is the author of "Get in the Game!" an instructional book on building a career in the video game industry. His articles have been featured in a variety of industry publications. He is a speaker at game industry conferences and volunteers as an advisory board member for several colleges. Marc has been interviewed on television and radio as an expert on working in the videogames industry. His detailed bio can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marc_Mencher.