Mum with a Career Gap? Here are some LinkedIn pointers

Today, the LinkedIn HQ in London organised an event for Digital Mums students and graduates to talk us through best practice for our personal LinkedIn profiles, with a chance to talk to some of the experts in small groups at the end.

It was a really relevant event for the Digital Mums students and graduates, as many of us have had career gaps and then changed careers. This can be a hard story to sell on LinkedIn, but it's really important we work on our profiles as most of us are working freelance; it's important to have a continuous stream of job opportunities coming in. LinkedIn is a great way of finding these opportunities.

There were many Digital Mums who weren't able to make it, and have asked for top tips. Well, these are my take home points:

headshot linkedin smile

1. Invest in a good headshot.

Make it professional. Also, smile. Profiles with someone smiling have a 25% higher open rate. I had my photo taken by a professional photographer and I now have the same profile picture across all my social media platforms (even Whatsapp - which was previously a bikini shoot. Whoops!)

2. Write an attention grabbing headline

This is common sense really, but I think a lot of us thought of LinkedIn as "the professional network" (well, it is) and we were scared of injecting personality. So many of us just wrote "Social Media Manager" - that just doesn't cut it. Have a look at this LinkHuman's blog post with 10 creative LinkedIn Headlines. Treat the headline as your 120 character hook.

Also, please note that Google users the headline for search, so bear that in mind.

3. Draft a compelling summary

This is the part where you humanise yourself. Be honest. You can explain your career gap(s) here. You can mention being a mother or not - it's personal choice, but it's going to come up some time or another with your potential employer. You can also add your interests here, and play to your strength. You may be interested in beauty blogging and trained with Digital Mums. Perhaps a make up store is searching for a new Social Media Manager. 

In the presentation, Katie Kirby's profile was flagged up as a decent example of a great summary. The first paragraph summarises her experience, and the second paragraph goes into a bit more detail about her as an individual.

4. Draw from your experience

There are some of us that have had career breaks, and we struggle to fill the gaps. There are also some of us that have changed careers, and we feel we lack the skills necessary for job applications (on paper at least). For me, I had just 2 years work experience before I had my baby. Does that mean I'm as inexperienced as I was when I left work back then? No. I've organised events, I've created projects. I've managed people. I even dabbled with PTA. This is all experience that can and should go in the LinkedIn profile.

Also, in the volunteering section. Even if you haven't done any voluntary work yet, you can express an interest in certain charities and say you are open to volunteering with them.

 Yeah, this was the closest thing I could find to a nugget... well, it looks pretty anyway.

Yeah, this was the closest thing I could find to a nugget... well, it looks pretty anyway.

Other Nuggets of information I picked up from the event

  • When you share LinkedIn updates, stick with the 411 rule. 4 short and snappy pieces, 1 meaty piece (blog pot) and one sales/self-promotion piece. This applies in other areas of marketing too (Twitter, Facebook page...)
  • Don't merge your personal page too closely to your brand. You don't want to be seen as spamming. You can divert people to your business page, but you shouldn't be sharing all of the posts (if you don't have other activity on LinkedIn)
  • Check LinkedIn daily just like any other social network. It's by showing up and engaging that you'll get the opportunities
  • You can change privacy setting so people won't see every time you update your profile.
  • You can also change privacy settings to show others who has viewed their profile. Either as you, someone from x industry, or just someone.