How to Get Your Industry Right on LinkedIn

Gray uncetaintyI recently worked with a head of human resources for a Fortune 50 company who was conducting a passive job search.

In preparing her LinkedIn profile, I noticed that she had listed “telecommunications” as her industry, even though human resources was her practice area.

I suggested that she change her industry to “human resources,” which, by the way, isn’t an industry, but a practice area — and she immediately had interested recruiters calling.

A real challenge

This seemingly insignificant decision is a real conundrum every LinkedIn user faces.

Do I bucket myself in an industry or a practice area?

You could argue that the “industries” section on LinkedIn is truly your industry, and your professional headline, job titles, and skills / endorsements content serves as your discipline.

But then, why is HR an industry? Why is “executive management” or “business development” or “accounting” listed as an industry?

I’m seeing lots of gray.

My suggestion to date has been to consider your options, weight one against the other, make an educated guess, try it out, and be open to futzing with your settings.

If someone is looking for, say, a head of HR, odds are high that they will key in “HR director,” “head of HR,” or “human resources vice president” or some-such as a key search term.

Where it gets dicey

If my client was open to performing HR outside of telecom, she needs to be industry agnostic.

What if my client was an in-house employment attorney? Or someone who wanted to go in-house?

Is her industry the actual industry of interest? Or is it “law practice” or “legal services.”

My own profile

I listed “writing and editing” as my own industry for several years on my own profile (again, industry is a misnomer) and my profile performed well.

In 2010, I noticed that several colleagues used “professional training and coaching,” so I edited my industry and to my surprise traffic picked up exponentially!

My recommendation

If you’re uncertain, know you’re not alone.

LinkedIn’s current drop-down list is incomplete, limiting, and neglected — although, happily, LinkedIn regularly updates the “industries” list.

(RANT: There really should be a drop down menu for “industry” and a drop down menu for “practice area,” n’est ce pas?)

Until LinkedIn updates this flaw, my recommendation is to go with your practice area — or more broadly — to choose the bucket that you think best fits, then mark your calendar and experiment with the other bucket(s) that might work.

See which performs best over a period of several weeks.

This exercise doesn’t replace a well-conceived and written LinkedIn profile. Without that, your bucket may not matter at all.

But it does seem like a critical component of a well-ordered LinkedIn profile, so take the time to figure it out.

Until next time!

Jared

 

Jared Redick helps stealth job seekers re-imagine the marketable intersection between their background, interests, audience expectations, and career goals. His strategic “purpose, content, design” approach to résumé writing helps mid-career professionals transform rusty résumés into barrier breaking documents.

Learn more: https://midcareerminute.com/about/

 

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