The LinkedIn profile is a concrete way for you to help your newcomer clients to overcome perceived barriers like the devaluation of their international credentials or any negative perceptions around their situations. Therefore, you should encourage your clients to infuse their uniqueness into their LinkedIn profiles. Here are 10 suggestions to help your newcomer clients to strengthen their LinkedIn profile.
1. The photo
Advise immigrants and refugees to appear smiling, or at least relaxed, in their profile picture. Otherwise, they could inadvertently fall into the stereotype of the struggling or nostalgic immigrant. This should not be a surprise because Canadian media is filled with articles portraying immigrants’ lives in a negative way.
Instead, your client’s LinkedIn profile picture can allow potential employers and recruiters to see right away how open and approachable they are.
2. The headline
You should tell newcomers to include any key certification(s) that they have already acquired in Canada or are pursuing here. Alternatively, they could add them after their name.
3. The about section
Encourage your clients to present their professional stories in paragraphs. This strategy should help to undermine any hesitation regarding your clients’ writing skills.
Communication skills are highly valued by many Canadian employers. According to the 2020 report Investing in a Resilient Canadian Workforce from the Business Council of Canada, employers have consistently rated communication in their top five most-wanted skills.
Bullet points and short sentences can be used sparingly here. To compensate the fragmented way in which resumes are normally written, you should explain to your clients that this section should reinforce their professional trajectory. In fact, it should a brief story focused on their skills, strengths or achievements. This section can include everything that can makes the client stand out, not only generally to potential employers but also fundamentally to themselves; true empowerment only happens when people have opportunities to express who they are.
4. Work experience
Encourage your clients to emphasize their experiences overseas, instead of trying to hide them. In other words, newcomers should be never embarrassed about their previous jobs. It is important for these jobseekers to explain what kind of work they did, and, most importantly, the impact of their contributions on the companies that they worked for.
In the end, employers and recruiters should hopefully have a better sense of international experiences, which can reduce any anxiety about the applicability of the work. As we all know, there is still fear that, once in Canada, internationally trained professionals may not keep up to the demands of the Canadian workplaces. However, they should be judged solely on the skills that they have, not punished for having acquired them somewhere else.
While helping to educate people about the value of international credentials, ask your clients to add details about the educational institutions in which they studied overseas. To stress the relevance of their education, tell newcomers to clarify how prestigious their educational institute is, how many students it has, what the impact of the school is in their country of origin – or even around the world.
Clients should include any credential evaluations they have acquired to show the equivalency or applicability of their education to the Canadian context.
6. Professional development
Instruct your clients to display any certificates, which may have been gained through formal educational institutions and/or informal educational platforms like LinkedIn Learning, for example. Then, potential employers and recruiters alike can be assured that your clients are perpetual learners who are comfortable with the culture of change at work.
7. Volunteer experience
Alert your clients that this section should not be ignored in the Canadian context, which is a detail that many may not know. This may be a way for them to compensate for a lack of Canadian work experience.
In addition to brief descriptions of the organizations where they volunteer and the important work that they do, the most important feature should be how your clients have contributed and/or relate to specific causes. Their humanity should shine through this section. This is certainly a powerful way for them to connect with their readers.
Clients should not restrict themselves to the hard skills directly associated with their paid and unpaid experiences. In reality, so-called soft skills, such as public speaking or conflict resolution, are more difficult to be acknowledged or measured. However, they tend to be particularly valued in the Canadian labour market. This is a piece of information that many newcomers jobseekers may not know.
Ensure that the people recommending your clients on their profiles are as diverse as they can possibly be in terms of gender, race, sexual orientation, etc. Diverse references can indicate that your clients feel comfortable and are able to work well with people who are supposedly different from them.
10. Commenting and sharing
Advise your clients to avoid making or sharing comments that could be considered polemical, particularly if they express extreme religious and political views. They may be acceptable in their country of origin, but not necessarily in Canada. Potential employers here may not share the same ideas or may even feel insulted by them. In this regard, please feel free to remind your clients that LinkedIn is a social media platform primarily focused on career-related issues.
An exception could made when a client is sure that their view will be well-accepted by the employers who are being targeted. However, even in this case, targeted postings can still haunt and hurt her/him. In this regard, it is important to bear in mind LinkedIn messages are relatively easy to be seen and shared.
Hopefully, you are able to appreciate the tips given here and can use them to support your newcomer clients.