In terms of professional networking – especially in the digital space – nothing compares to Linkedin. As of 2021, the professional networking platform has more than 740 million members in more than 200 countries, a significant portion of which work within the public sector  (Linkedin, 2021). According to Hootsuite 3 people are hired through Linkedin every minute and 40 million people on average use Linkedin to search for jobs each week (Newberry, 2021). Consequently, for those actively looking for new jobs or even those simply open to new opportunities, having an up-to-date and engaging Linkedin profile is a key ingredient in finding relevant opportunities and gaining the attention of desired employers. Especially when so many of us are working remotely and hiring managers can't screen potential candidates in person, looking at a candidate’s Linkedin page has become even more important. Both recruiters and HR teams are using advanced data analytics to both find and engage with suitable passive and active jobseekers on Linkedin, while a candidate’s Linkedin profile is quickly becoming the first thing recruiters and hiring managers look at when they receive a candidate’s job application.
However, there are certain things candidates should be aware of when building or updating their Linkedin profile, especially if they’re trying to secure a government role. To help active job seekers, or even those just interested in learning about other possibilities, our Public Sector consultants have collated our top tips and tricks to help ensure you’re making the best use of the platform:
We all know first impressions count and your profile photo is one of the first things recruiters and hiring managers will see when they click on your Linkedin profile, so it plays a significant role in setting the right tone of your profile. Furthermore, according to Linkedin, data has shown that having a profile picture makes you seven times more likely to have your profile viewed by recruiters and hiring managers.
You want to come across as professional and capable, so it’s important that your photo reflects this. If you don’t have a professional photo on hand to use, you can take your own. A headshot (photo from your shoulders up) against a plain background usually works best. Make sure you’re wearing professional attire (a business shirt or blouse for example) and don’t forget to smile to help create the impression that while you’re professional – you’re also friendly and approachable!
It’s important to remember that due to the unique nature of public sector organisations and the far-reaching impact they have on the wider community, they are particularly vulnerable to the opinions and activity of current or potential employees. Because government organisations are public-facing, any inappropriate comments about them or projects they are involved in can negatively impact the confidence the public have in them and harm their integrity. Consequently, it’s important to be mindful of what you’re sharing and engaging with on your Linkedin profile. It's also worth doing a quick search through your past activity to ensure you don’t have anything that would be considered inappropriate or politically controversial. For example, if you’ve liked a person’s post that criticises the progress of a Victorian Government project, not only does it reflect poorly on the Victorian Government, but it will harm your chances of working within the Victorian Government in future, even if it’s within an entirely different area to the project mentioned on Linkedin. Try to keep all of your social activity politically neutral and consider the values and mission of the public sector organisations you wish to apply for and channel these within your own profile. For example, if you want to work within the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning you can emulate their values and mission in your own profile through showing support for local sustainability initiatives and liking/engaging in content that focuses on this.
When applying for public sector roles, it’s important to make sure your job experience is up to date and if you have previous experience working with government organisations that this is clearly stated. Some candidates can be deterred when trying to transition from the private sector to the public sector because they don’t have previous work experience within a government organisation. However, the collaboration of both the private and public sector to deliver significant projects is commonplace. So, if you’ve worked alongside a public sector organisation on a project or had a particular government department as a client, you should include it, as it demonstrates that you understand project requirements from a public sector perspective. Furthermore, many skills are just as valuable and relevant within the public sector as the private sector, including stakeholder and relationship management, collaboration and time management. Think carefully about the skills you possess that cross over with the job you’re applying for and ensure these are highlighted in your Linkedin experience section.
Our consultants recommend that you try and include as many of the projects you’ve worked on as possible within this section to demonstrate the size and scale of your experience. If you’ve been at a company for a long time and don’t have room to list all the projects you’ve been involved in, try and select the ones you feel are most relevant to the role you’re applying to and the ones you are most proud of. A checklist to help you determine what relevant information to include with each role is below:
Be specific on how long you were in a role or working on a particular project. Include months as well as start dates, so people don’t misinterpret the length of time spent on one project. For example: (May 2020 – June 2021 instead of 2020 – 2021)
A brief project description
The key duties you performed within your role and a particular project
The key outcomes resulting from your duties. When listing these, again try and quantify your results through facts and figures to help highlight their significance and further demonstrate your capabilities.
Use bullet points so it’s easy for readers to scan
Start with your highest or most relevant qualification and work down. The longer you’ve been in the workforce, the less attention you need to pay to the education section – your university degree or your relevant certification/training will suffice. However, if you’ve recently graduated and haven’t as much work experience you can put more detail into your education section; feel free to list any relevant work experience, internships or associations you were involved in that you feel showcase your skills and capabilities. You can even include any volunteer experience you did for a not-for-profit or government organisation if you feel it’s relevant to the role you’re applying for.
Certain public sector jobs might also require candidates to have completed particular courses or training – for example, an engineer might be required to complete AutoCAD training for a role, while a social worker will need first aid training. If you think any additional licenses, certifications or training will help you stand out from competitors and it's relevant, feel free to add to this section.
LinkedIn recommendations and skill endorsements are a strong way to show employers that your professional background is relevant and that you’ve performed at a high level in past jobs. Asking other professionals for an endorsement or recommendation on Linkedin can seem awkward, but it’s not that different to asking them if they can be a reference on a resume. Furthermore, skill endorsement and recommendations can really help candidates to stand out from the competition, as your expertise has been certified by other respected professionals within your chosen field.
Linkedin endorsements occur when a 1st-degree connection endorses one or more of your skills. People can independently decide to endorse you, however, most endorsements occur after being requested. For endorsements to carry the most weight, ask relevant people to endorse you; colleagues you’ve worked with that can talk to your experience and promote the skills they’ve seen you use. In return, you can offer to endorse them.
To finalise your profile make-over and ensure you’ll attract the job opportunities you want, you should look over your profile and consider what keywords recruiters will search for when looking for candidates. For example, local councils looking for a People Services Manager might search for terms like ‘stakeholder management or ‘local council experience’. Consequently, trying to include these keywords in your profile, will help you attract relevant job opportunities.
Furthermore, for active job seekers, you should double-check you have opted in to Linkedin notifications on your settings. Within your settings function, you can set up specific terms like 'metropolitan council', 'project manager' etc, so that only the most relevant notifications are sent to you via email or SMS. These notifications allow you to be ahead of the game when applying for roles but also ensure you don’t miss out on any opportunity – which you might do if you were manually scrolling through Linkedin each or every few days.
For further advice on your LinkedIn profile or any other stage of the job-seeking process, feel free to reach out to our Public Sector People consultants. Our team specialise in attracting, recruiting, and transitioning the right candidates to the right roles within the public sector. Reach out to our team of consultants today to help you find and secure the role that’s the right fit for your needs.
 Newberry, Christina. (2021). 38 Linkedin Statistics Marketers Should Know in 2021. Hootsuite. Retrieved from: https://blog.hootsuite.com/linkedin-statistics-business/