To discuss your LinkedIn profile as a gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer professional, we first must cover some basics because as an LGBTQ professional we have a bit of a challenge in comparison to heterosexuals which can make networking and hunting for your next career move a bit daunting. Like 72% of LGBTQ professionals, you may have experienced discrimination and harassment on the job at your current or past employers. This can make you feel a bit of trepidation when hunting for a new job wondering, “should I stay and endure or should I go to a hopefully better more LGBTQ inclusive and welcoming work environment.”
All around the world, LGBTQ people still face legal discrimination including in nearly half the U.S. states that do not offer full protection for LGBTQ people on employment rights. You also have to consider how OUT you are comfortable with being on your resume and therefore also your LinkedIn profile. Studies have found that even being just perceived as LGBTQ can result in not being hired, not promoted and less pay compared to being perceived as heterosexual. But change happens because we take a stand.
Companies Large and Small are LGBTQ Enthusiastically Welcoming
Luckily, many companies have realized that being diversity open and welcoming toward LGBTQ employees by providing LGBTQ friendly and equal benefits and policies literally provide the company with huge benefits culturally and financially. Corporations and organizations can be the bridge to equality even during turbulent waters of an unfriendly political administration. If applying for a new job at a Fortune 1000 level company be sure to check out the latest HRC Corporate Equality Index for a listing of companies and their LGBTQ employee friendly HRC score. But, companies of all sizes all over the world are waking up to this and providing LGBTQ friendly benefits and policies. Some large companies today even have a diversity and inclusion HR recruiter dedicated to recruiting great LGBTQ talent. Be sure to check out our article on job seeking as an LGBTQ employee for additional tips.
Whether you are currently actively looking for a new job or passively open to being contacted by recruiters with potential opportunities, in addition to LinkedIn consider joining the growing site of OutBüro and add your resume to the searchable database. It is rapidly growing and adding new companies, diversity recruiters, information and features to better serve you and the global LGBTQ professional and entrepreneur community.
On OutBüro you can add your recent past and current employer of any size and any location in the world to the Company Rating area and provide a company review anonymously from your LGBTQ employee perspective.
Build your LinkedIn profile and network before you need it
Follow the guideline tips below to jump-start your gay professional networking and job search. When you’re not looking for a job, it can be all to easy to ignore your LinkedIn. In conversations, I’ve heard so many people say, “I’m not searching for a job right now so I never go onto LinkedIn.” MISTAKE. You don’t show up for a first date and before server asks for your drink order ask your date to marry you and move in – right? I hope not else your dating life is dismal. Professional networking is the same. You need to build the relationships and nurture them. That starts with having a fabulous profile.
Here, I’ve pulled together what you need to know about making your LinkedIn profile sparkle and dazzle.
LinkedIn profile tips for the queer professional
1. Don’t be stale
Before moving on to creating your awesome LinkedIn profile, take a day or so to review and update your resume.
2. Be verbally creative
The most overused buzzwords on resumes and profiles are responsible, creative, effective, analytical, strategic, patient, expert, organizational, driven, and innovative. Drop all the overly used common words and make your resume and profile stand out with fabulous action verbs that make you look like a superhero in your field. Also, consider using a grammar app like Grammarly.com. I love that tool.
3. Resistance is futile
Keep in mind that today large companies use artificial intelligence to search their database and the internet for resumes with key terms in complex formats. So you need to cover the skills simply, directly and in plain language.
4. Get past the first rung
Remembering that often the first actual person who sees your resume or assessing your LinkedIn profile will likely be a junior recruiter who likely has zero knowledge of the industry and your skills. They are looking to see if your resume has all boxes checked before moving it along to the next review step. Many junior recruiters are fresh out of college. Keep it simple and clear while still being complete.
5. Job Duties – ditch ‘em
As you review and update your resume be sure to say bye-bye Felicia to job duties on your resume. Showcase your achievements to demonstrate that you’re a high performer. This will translate to your LinkedIn Profile too where it will catch the attention of recruiters.
6. Snap that pic
Like a good queer in the digital age, you know your profile picture will be the first thing that grabs attention on a site or app. LinkedIn is really no different – except it’s professional only. If starting a new LinkedIn profile. It can be casual and even goofy but keep it corporate office friendly. If you are not a professional fitness coach, keep the shirt on. I love a hot torso shot like the next gay guy, but LinkedIn is not the place for that unless it directly relates to your work.
Have a little fun trying different shirts, poses, backgrounds and more. Just give a smile, be sure it’s clear, friendly and appropriate for your industry and level in your career. Even if you have to wear a suit and tie it can still be professional yet show some personality.
7. Don’t be a mystery
Complete your profile to it’s fullest. The more content the better chances a recruiter will come across it in their searches. Touch and add to every section of the profile, from title, summery, employment history, skills, get endorsements and so forth. LinkedIn actually automatically suggests profiles areas you have not completed. Take note and complete them if appropriate. Think of it this way, have you ever been on a “dating” app and you see a great profile pic then click through and there’s absolutely no profile info? Makes ya wonder. Don’t expect recruiters to think you’re so hot in your photo that they send you a message saying, “Hey, what’s up? What skills do you have and are you available now?” They won’t. They’ll just ignore you and move on.
8. Custom URL – no it’s not vanity
Having a custom URL makes sharing it so much easier. But don’t get cute with stuff like “AwesomeGuy” or “AmazingProgramer”. Keep it simple and professional. The best is www.linkedin.com/in/yourname See instructions from LinkedIn here.
9. Make your profile headline awesome
Your job title and company really shouldn’t be your profile headline. Think of this as your self-marketing tagline. Check out our list of fabulous action verbs to be on message while conveying action. What is it about you that sets you apart? Maybe highlight very briefly your biggest kick-butt thing you accomplished in your last role. Look at other profiles in your industry. Do you see a common theme? If so, don’t be a sheep following the masses. Make your’s stand out as unique showcasing your value proposition. This headline will be constantly visible as you participate in groups, like and share content as well as visible in recruiter search results and when potential contacts are making a quick decision to invite you to connect or accept your invitation to connect.
10 Craft it based on job descriptions
Review several job descriptions from companies you are targeting. Notice keywords and phrases that appear often in some or all and ensure those same words are scattered throughout your profile and summary. Not as duties as mentioned earlier, but within your accomplishments. You can bet that recruiters are using those same keywords when searching for their next candidate.
11. Leverage the summary space
Your profile summary should be just a short overview of your top skills and qualification and maybe include a list of the top few industries you’ve worked in that is also your target ideal job. Keep it short. Usually 3-4 few sentence paragraphs is idea and if you can work in a short bulleted list. This is meant to give the viewer enough information to want to know more.
12. Numbers are good
Include quantifiable numbers in your resume and LinkedIn profile. It can convey your value and credibility. For example, “Founded, built and moderate LinkedIn’s largest LGBT professional networking group with currently 45,000 global members” or “Reduce IT software annual maintenance agreements by 28% within 6 months in Fortune 1000 level financial service firm”.
13. Show personality
Your LinkedIn profile summary is your chance to shine and stand out. Be professional yet write in with a little personality too like you are having a conversation. It’s a brief opportunity for the viewer to get to know you and tell if you might be a good fit for their work culture.
14. Don’t be a queen
England’s queen can get away with talking in 3rd person. No one is going to believe someone else other than yourself completed your profile. So use language as if you are directly speaking to someone, not like it’s a Forbes article a journalist wrote about you. So when appropriate use “I am passionate ____”. This is one area where your resume and LinkedIn profile differs.
15. Be current
Sure you have to list all the relative jobs with the amazing experience you’ve had in the past, but what if you are currently unemployed or reentering the job market? On your LinkedIn profile, you need to enter something with a “current” date. Why? Most recruiters almost always use your current title and description in their searches. They then look beyond that if it captures their attention. If needed create a dummy job listing and use this to list all related experience you have marketing toward your ideal job. Use the job title for that and if not currently employed consider adding “Seeking” as the company.
16. Contact info
Be sure you add at minimum your email address and phone number to your profile. Also add any other social media accounts you are comfortable with being found by and looked at.
17. Add a website
If you currently do not have a portfolio or about me website, strongly consider creating one. It can complement your resume and LinkedIn profile. If you aren’t technical there are many platforms available to get it up easily such as Wix and others. Also for under $10 you can obtain a URL from sites like Domain.com. On this personal branding website showcase all the work and projects that make you stand out. It’s a great way to move beyond the confines of a resume or LinkedIn profile to communicate your talents and value while presenting a little personality and flair. Naturally, for entrepreneurs, it will be your company website. When completed add the website to your LinkedIn profile.
18. Jazz up your summary with multimedia
On your summary, you are able to addWord documents, Excel files, PowerPoint presentations, pictures, screenshots, video, pdf’s and other electronic files. Maybe add your full resume do it’s accessible for recruiters to download. Perhaps it’s company brochures or branding images. You may want to consider hosting these files on Google Drive.
19. Add certifications
Adding certifications to your profile is a great way to showcase your knowledge and achievements.You may consider adding the text in your summary or job experience. However, adding the actual certification section, via Achievements to your profile will allow recruiters who are looking for a candidate with a certain certification to find you who leverage the specific fields meant for that content.
20. Add projects
You can leverage the projects feature to further build your profile allowing a greater range of skills, talents, and accomplishments to be featured making all the content search-able to find you.
21. Add volunteer experience
Have you gained some great experience volunteering? Add it to your profile in the Volunteer Experience section of your profile. Maybe you didn’t gain work-related skills serving food to disabled veterans or cleaning kennels at your local animal shelter, but adding it to your profile demonstrates that you are a well-rounded person who is involved in your community. It could make you stand out as just the right candidate.
22. Add languages
Do you speak French, German or Mandarin? Adding the languages you speak can be a great way to differentiate yourself on your resume and LinkedIn profile.
23. Get LinkedIn endorsements regularly
When you hear, “you did an amazing job”, ask the person to provide you an endorsement on LinkedIn. Don’t be bashful about specifying what you would like them to say. You might even consider drafting the endorsement based on what they said, naturally suggesting they edit it as they see fit before posting. In that provide a link to your LinkedIn profile. Both these actions will make it super easy increasing the odds that they will follow through with doing it.
24. Delete/hide a recommendation
It’s great that someone had the thought and took the time to provide you an endorsement, but every now and then you might receive one that is not aligned with the direction of your career. It could be in your best interest to delete/hide it from your profile.
25. Keep it clean
With all the options you have to add content to your profile on LinkedIn, I’ll also say, “Don’t feel you have to fill in every single thing.” Just because you can, does not mean you must or should. Keep your profile clean and as minimal as possible while conveying your professional experience and direction. I for example with my new direction in life removed absolutely all of my past technology project management entries. Why? Because it’s not where I’m going. If you worked at McDonald’s 8 years ago and it’s not relevant to where you are now and where you are going – don’t add it or remove it now.
Also, be brief with just enough nuggets of information to make your profile show up in the searches and WOW the recruiter or prospective client. The profile is not an essay. If you want to add more content check out the below tip of adding articles.
Profile all Set – get social
26. Update Your Status
LinkedIn is not the place to post what you ate for lunch. Keep yourself visible in the activity stream by updating your status. Just keep it professional and ideally focused on your industry. Share industry articles, news and company updates.
27. Be social
As you see content from others, like, share and make thoughtful comments on what others post.
28. Follow topics & use hashtags
LinkedIn recently implemented hashtags which now provides you the opportunity to follow them as topics as well as put them in your status updates/postings and comments to push your stuff into those same topics for others to discover beyond those you are connected directly to.
29. Follow companies and people’s
If you are just starting out on LinkedIn your news activity stream will be a ghost town. You need to jump into liking and commenting thoughtfully on what others post. This will be visible in your activity and can boost your exposure. So, judiciously follow industry leaders and companies that you are interested in. You can follow people that you are not directly connected to. From their profile choose the more “…” and then select “follow”. Visit company pages and select the “follow company” button. If you go a little gangbusters at first you can always unfollow them in the future. They won’t get notified if you unfollow – so no feelings hurt.
30. Write article content
Anyone can publish an article on LinkedIn.If you already have a blog it’s a great way to repost your content, building your personal brand and increasing the content associated with your profile thus improving your visibility in searches. Be sure to explore all the LinkedIn Article features. For examples check out articles I’ve posted via my own profile. Use hashtags in your article to increase its exposure. Ideally, you’ll add a featured image and call to action images in your article (search the internet for “free images” – never just download something you see on another website – not cool). Cover the topic and show a little personality while remaining professional.
31. Be a groovy groupie
LinkedIn Groups can be an indispensable resource. Just like your general site activity, the more active you are in a group the more exposure you will have and build a branded reputation as a thought leader, a nice person and an interesting conversationalist. There are thousands of groups on LinkedIn. Choose wisely. Search for your industry and topics of interest, such as OutBüro on LinkedIn which is the oldest, largest, most active and moderated LGBTQ professional networking group with, as of this writing, 45,000 global members.
Via your group settings, you can control the communications from the group as well as hide a group from your public profile. You may also directly message any other group member so that increases your reach on LinkedIn. You may find another group member works for a target company you seek to work at or do business with and have the group as a conversation opener. Keep your group posting and commenting activity focused on the group topic.
32. Connect with others
You may have come across other articles about LinkedIn that say to only invite people to directly connect with you that you actually know. Okay, that is the premise of LinkedIn. But would you attend a local in-person business networking event only to grab a few snacks, maybe have a beer and talk with ONLY the people you already know? If so, you just should have invited those friends over for a BBQ in your backyard. What was your point of attending the networking event if not to meet NEW people? Right?
LinkedIn should be no different. It is about expanding your reach and exposure.
I’ll admit, I’m a prolific connector. It has paid off and will continue to bring new opportunities in many ways.
If you are new to LinkedIn, I won’t put a number on how many connections you should have. But think of this. If seeking a new job or reaching out to new client potentials and your LinkedIn profile as next to no other connections, what will a recruiter or prospect think?
- This person has been living under a rock.
- This person obviously has no value to bring me since others don’t find value in connecting with them.
- This person scared of social media and maybe technology as a whole.
- This person is not dynamic enough.
- This person will not fit into our work culture.
Do not be that person. You are welcome to invite me to connect to get your connecting on a strong path. I’ve been on LinkedIn for 17 years – way before it was much – and have over 24,000 1st degree connections which will then be your 2nd-degree connections. My connections span the globe and industries.
33. Search privately
Via your LinkedIn privacy settings, you can choose the way your profile appears when you are checking out other profiles. You may not want every person to know you visited their profile. Not a problem. Set your privacy settings and jump in with no trails left behind.
34. Job hunting secretly
If you are seeking a new job yet currently employed, you may not want the current employer to be aware you are looking for greener pastures. No worries, in your LinkedIn privacy settings set your “Job seeking preference.”
35. Send a message
When you are asking to connect with someone on LinkedIn, don’t just click “connect”. You receive a much better acceptance rate if you choose the “send a message” feature. Take moment and check out their profile to see where you have commonalities and personalize the very short message. It might read, “Hi Bob, I see you’re the director of the Dallas LGBT center. My work focuses on providing information and resources to LGBQ professionals and entrepreneurs. I’d love to connect on here.”
36. Engage, ask and thank
After someone accepts your connection or you accept theirs, reach back out with a short “Appreciate the connection” message. If you think there’s a good reason to, ask for a short introduction phone call. Do NOT just start spamming the person with over received “offers” to improve their website and SEO. I get those several times a week. I just hit delete and then assess if I really want that person in my network
37. It’s not a dating site
Could there be a chance of meeting someone via LinkedIn for dating? Maybe. I’m guilty of receiving a connection request, checking out the profile and thinking, “Holy crap, he’s hot as f*(k !!” But that’s not the intent of the site. And personally, if not local, what’s the point of that train of thought? I’ve read about a woman using it as a dating site. Normally, most frown upon that approach on LinkedIn.
Do you have tips on what’s been successful for you in your use of LinkedIn? Use the comments below to share your ideas, tips, and tricks for us all to grow together.