LinkedIn for Accountants
Find a better job, network, and build your personal brand with a fully optimized LinkedIn profile.
What You’ll Learn Today
Follow the step-by-step advice in this guide you can create a LinkedIn profile that’s more effective (and better looking) than 80% of the profiles out there. And your profile will be optimized so recruiters easily find you during the hiring process. Giving you the first crack at the best jobs they’re hiring for.
If you’re serious about finding a new job right now, The LinkedIn Guide for Accountants will show you how to use LinkedIn to find, connect with, and impress recruiters in your industry.
If you’re happy in your current job, The LinkedIn Guide for Accountants will show you how to clean up your profile and avoid embarrassing mistakes. Plus, you’ll set yourself up to be found by recruiters in the future. Imagine, out of the blue one day a recruiter emails you about your dream job. How awesome would that be?
If you’re not very tech savvy and worried about the time it will take to manage another social media profile, I have a bold suggestion — If you’re serious about your career, you need to be on LinkedIn.
Follow the proven system laid out in this guide for just 30 minutes, and you’ll be well on your way to LinkedIn success.
Why Do Accountants Need LinkedIn?
What’s Your LinkedIn User Type?
There are as many different ways to use LinkedIn as there are people using it. Before you get into the meat of this guide, take a few moments to think about what you want to get out of your LinkedIn experience. Your personal goals will shape your LinkedIn experience and determine what you add to your profile. Which best describes you?
Active Job Seeker
You’re looking for a job right now – You’re unemployed or unhappy in your current job and want to find a new job ASAP.
Passive Job Seeker
You’re pretty happy where you work now, but are always open to hear about new and exciting opportunities. You use LinkedIn to make sure companies and recruiters can find you when the time is right.
Personal Brand Manager
You know that a LinkedIn profile will shoot to the top of Google searches for your name. Now you have some control over what people see about you online.
You want to meet and connect with as many people as possible. You can never have too many friends, and LinkedIn is a great way to meet people with common interests.
What You Get On LinkedIn
LinkedIn is the world’s largest social network for businesses and professionals. It’s a year older than Facebook and has over 300,000,000 users right now. More important, it’s a powerful tool for accounting professionals looking to gain an edge in a competitive job market. People from all around the world are using LinkedIn to connect, recruit, and do business with one another. In fact, two new people sign up for LinkedIn every second.
Here’s just a few of the reasons every accountant should spend a few minutes creating a professional-quality LinkedIn profile.
By now we all know that our Facebook accounts should be set to ‘private’ during a job search. Potential employers could be snooping and find incriminating photos or posts.
But it might shock you to know that a third fewer recruiters use Facebook than use LinkedIn when making hiring decisions.
People spend so much time trying to hide bad stuff about themselves that they forget to showcase the good things like work experience, awards and memberships in professional organizations. LinkedIn is the perfect place to show potential employers what you have to offer.
Recruiters Are On LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a large, global network of professionals in every field, especially accounting and finance.
It was only a matter of time before companies realized this and started using LinkedIn to find the best and brightest to work for them.
At its core, LinkedIn is a gigantic, searchable database of potential employees just waiting to be discovered and hired. It’s no surprise that 93% of recruiters use LinkedIn during their hiring process.
Harness The Power Of Search
If you’re looking for a fondue recipe, Google search is your first stop. For recruiters searching for accounting talent, the first stop is a LinkedIn search.
If you’ve set up your profile properly then you’ll be the one they find. Later chapters in this book go into detail about how to optimize your profile for just this reason.
In the past you job search was limited to your local area. This significantly limited your options.
With LinkedIn you have access to companies around the world who are looking for talented professionals like you to join their teams.
Network and Share
Connect with professionals from different backgrounds and industries. Discuss career paths, learn about new industries, or just share stories.
Build lasting relationships or just read industry news stories posted by your peers. The amount you want to interact is totally up to you.
Create Your LinkedIn Account
LinkedIn Quick Start Guide
If you can check your e-mail or watch funny cat videos on YouTube you have the tech savvy to use LinkedIn. The first thing you need to do is create an account. This will take about 5 minutes, depending on how much detail you want to add. Keep in mind that once you can always come back and change any part of your profile, so don’t be overwhelmed if you don’t have your resume handy to fill in every last detail from that job you had ten years ago.
Creating Your LinkedIn Account is Simple
1. Head over to the signup page (Click here)
2. Enter your name and email address
3. Then just follow the on-screen instructions
The entire process is quick and easy. After you’ve followed the instructions on screen, don’t forget to check your email for a message from LinkedIn. There’s a link inside that you’ll have to click on to prove that you entered a real email address. Once you click on that link your account is all set up and you’re ready to start adding more detail to your profile.
Adding Your Work History
Much like your resume, LinkedIn is a place for you to showcase your past work history to potential employers. Many items in your profile will be the same as your resume, such as Job title, Company, and dates of employment. If you haven’t done so already, add your current or most recent job to your profile. If you’re a recent graduate you can enter your university studies as a job until you get more experience under your belt.
How To Edit Your Profile
The first step when changing anything on your profile is to go back to linkedin.com and log in using your email and password. Move your mouse cursor over the word “Profile” at the top of the page and then click on “Edit Profile” from the menu that appears. Remember, this is how you will get back to edit all parts of your profile. For the remainder of this guide I will simply instruct you to go to “Edit Profile”.
How To Add Your Employment History
Adding your work history is easy. Go to “Edit Profile” and scroll down to the section titled “Experience”. Here you’ll find any jobs you’ve already added, and you can add new ones.
On the right side of the screen there will be a plus sign next to the word “Add”. Click on it and you’ll be taken to a new screen where you can enter all the details about your job.
I don’t recommend using the “Import resume” feature that LinkedIn offers simply because there are too many ways it could go wrong if your resume isn’t formatted exactly the way LinkedIn wants it. When that happens you’ll have to manually fix everything anyway. Your best bet is to just add your work history yourself.
What Details Should I Add for Each Job?
Job title: Use your official job title for now. Later in this guide I’ll share how to optimize your job titles to make it easier for recruiters to find you.
Dates of employment: Select the appropriate dates you were employed for each job.
Job description: These are things that anyone doing your job would do. For example, “Prepare monthly cash reconciliations.” or “File annual client tax returns.” Be sure to add at 3-5 sentences describing your duties.
Awards and achievements: Here you’ll want to list things that you did better than others who have the same job as you. For example, “Received the Merit Award for being the top auditor the Northwest region.” Add at least 1-2 of these so that recruiters know you can go above and beyond doing just what’s required for your job. There is no Achievements section of your profile, so include these at the bottom of your job description using bullet points.
LinkedIn Profile Photos That Work
Why Your Picture Matters
Want a 700% increase in the number of people who view your LinkedIn profile? It could be as simple as adding a photo of yourself. In an interview with U.S. News & World Report, Krista Canfield, a Senior Manager of Corporate Communications for LinkedIn shares that, “Folks who have a photo are seven times more likely to have their profile viewed in general than folks who don’t have a photo.”
We’re All Visual Creatures
When you see a person’s face you know right away that they’re a real person. Humans are an inherently visual species and we need to see other’s faces to make connections with them.
Your photo gives you the chance to show recruiters at a glance that you’re capable of looking professional.
Recruiters Don’t Want To Waste Time
On top of that, who do you think is more likely to actually be using LinkedIn? A person who took the time to add a nice photo to their profile, or someone who didn’t bother?
Recruiters know this, and focus their energy on profiles with a photo. Why waste time finding people who likely aren’t even using LinkedIn anymore?
Taking A Great Profile Picture
Your profile photo doesn’t need to you a professional headshot wearing your finest suit. But it does need to be work appropriate. Business casual is a safe bet here. Not sure what counts as ‘business casual’? A good rule of thumb is to wear what you would wear to visit your grandma for the holidays (minus the ugly Christmas sweater, of course…)
You And Only You
Your photo should be a shot of you by yourself. Don’t use that shot where you crop out your friends, but can still see part of their head or their arm around your shoulder.
No profanity, drinking, sex, drugs. (This should be common sense, but a lot of people still haven’t figured it out.)
Provocative outfits don’t belong in the workplace, or your LinkedIn profile. Women, that means no low-cut shirts/dresses. Men, put a shirt on, no matter how much you like that shot of you at the beach.
There are exceptions to this (ie – certain tech startups, freelancers), but 99% of you should focus on looking professional. Avoid old t-shirts, raggedy jeans, and all types of sports apparel.
Getting the Shot
The best (and most expensive) option is to call up a local photographer and ask for a sitting. Bring 2-3 nice outfits and you’ll get a few high quality professional headshots to choose from.
Make sure you let them know in advance that you’ll be using the photos for your online profiles. Photographers make their money selling you prints, so a lot of them are reluctant to give you a digital copy of your pictures. Usually they’ll be willing to work something out, but it’s best to discuss pricing before you’ve taken the shots.
Do It Yourself
Can’t afford to hire a pro right now? Here’s a cheaper way to get a photo that will make your profile stand out. Dress “business casual” and just have a friend take some pictures of you.
Stand in front of a blank wall or outside somewhere with a nice background. A light color is best, but any solid color background will do. You want the focus of the picture be you, and not something in the background. Snap a 10-20 shots and choose the one you like best.
Voila – your profile photo is now better than most people on LinkedIn.
How To Catch Recruiters’ Attention
Make Your Profile Stand Out
The best profile in the world is useless if nobody reads it. Recruiters don’t have time to read every profile on LinkedIn. They have to filter out the bad ones. If you want recruiters reading your profile, it has to stand out from the crowd. Writing a winning Headline gets you past the first filter. A great Summary puts you over the final hurdle and actually gets your profile read. Here’s how to do it right.
Why You Need a Great Headline (and How To Write Your Own)
A good headline catches a recruiter’s attention. A great headline also gives them enough information to decide that you’re someone they want to learn more about. Pretend you’re a recruiter looking to hire someone to design your new gadget. Which of the following two people are you going to be more interested in meeting?
John Doe – Product Designer at Apple Corp
John Smith – Product designer responsible for creating the original iPhone, a world-wide best seller and cultural phenomenon
If I’m the recruiter, I just clicked on John Smith’s profile and never gave John Doe a second thought. That’s the amazing power of a good headline. It’s also why you can’t afford not to spend a few minutes improving your headline.
All the elements in your Headline are designed to do one thing and one thing only — get them to read the first sentence of your Summary.LinkedIn Guide for Accountants
Heather is a Tax Accountant for Acme Accounting, LLP, one of the largest accounting firms in the United States. Her job consists of working with companies from around the country to prepare their state and federal income tax returns.
She enjoys the work, but the long hours are starting to catch up with her and now she’s looking to make a career change. Heather wants to update her current LinkedIn headline, “Accountant at Acme Accounting.” But she doesn’t even know where to begin. Let’s walk through the steps she can use to create a winning headline.
Write A Headline That Supports Your Goals
Heather has experience working with companies of all sizes, including small family owned companies and F500 giants. Her goals (the type of job she wants next) will determine how she presents herself on LinkedIn.
- If Heather’s dream is to work for a small family owned company doing all of their taxes and bookkeeping work, she’ll emphasize her experience helping smaller companies.
- If her goal is to move to a Fortune 500 company, she would want to emphasize her experience working with large organizations.
- Or maybe Heather wants to leave accounting all together and become a college professor. In this case she would want to emphasize how she taught tax concepts to her clients and helped them understand complex issues.
This is why goal setting is the first step in headline writing. It’s impossible to know what information to showcase until you have at least a general idea of what direction you want your career to go.
How to Write a Captivating LinkedIn Summary
If the Headline’s only job is to get your Summary read, can you guess the Summary’s job? That’s right! The Summary’s only job is to catch the reader’s interest and get them to keep reading your profile. The more they read, the more likely they are to hire you.
Fun vs. Informative
There are two schools of thought for how to write the best LinkedIn profile Summary.
- Go Practical – Short and to the point. Your summary is engaging because it’s easy to read and shows off your most relevant skills. Recruiters know right away you’re a good fit.
- Your Creative Side – Tap into your creative side and showcase your writing abilities. Engage the reader with your narrative and work in your achievements and skills along the way. Make it fun and recruiters will want to read more.
A good rule of thumb for Accounting/Finance roles is to err on the side of practical. Most of us aren’t great writers, and keeping just the facts makes your summary easier to read and understand.
That said, it’s impossible to know what will catch a particular recruiter’s attention on a given day. Remember, your Headline and Summary aren’t set in stone. Write the best Headline and Summary you can today and get it online. If it’s not working after a couple weeks, you can change it as often as you like.
Building Your Professional Network
Why LinkedIn Connections Are Important
Connections are the heart of LinkedIn. What reason is there to join and use the social networking site if you can’t connect to people? LinkedIn began as a way to connect with your coworkers and colleagues. It’s now branched out and become so much more. It’s a place to learn new things about your industry, a central repository of your entire employment history, and a way to connect with companies and recruiters and find a job half way around the world. None of this is possible without connections.
How to Connect on LinkedIn
There are two opposing views about who and how many people you should connect with:
- Only build “trusted relationships” Connect only to people you know or are trying to do business with. Officially, this is the strategy that LinkedIn recommends.
- Mass Connecting Connect to anyone and everyone you can. The more people you connect with, the better.
As with all things in life, the right answer for most people lies somewhere in the middle ground. Let’s walk through the pros and cons of both approaches. Then you can make an informed decision and find a balance that’s right for you.
LinkedIn’s official opinion is that you should only connect with trusted colleagues, classmates, family and friends. This is the ‘safe’ way and it makes sense when you’re first starting out on LinkedIn.
This makes sense for most beginners because it means that you’ll only receive updates about people you know and care about. It also reduces the chances that you’ll receive ‘spam’ messages or sales pitches from people you don’t know. One obvious drawback of this approach is that it’s more difficult to connect with recruiters or get to know new people in your industry if you follow this approach.
Why I Recommend Building a Larger Network
The biggest upside to building a large LinkedIn network is search. LinkedIn search is always changing, but your number of connections is the single biggest factor determining how often you show up in recruiters’ searches. Show up in more searches and more recruiters see your profile. More recruiters see your profile, more want to build relationships and eventually interview you. And, obviously, more interviews means a better chance of landing a new job.
LinkedIn is also a great place to meet people and build new relationships. Think of these people as digital pen-pals. If you never connect with anyone new you’re missing out on knowing a lot of wonderful people.
I believe in building the largest network you can without being spammy. And I recommend you start doing the same. It takes time to build a large network, but I’m going to share with you a few shortcuts I’ve found over the years. These shortcuts will help you easily get your first 25 connections, and set you up to get the most from your LinkedIn experience.
Potential Downsides of This Strategy
The biggest downside to connecting with any Tom, Dick, or Harry is that once you’re connected these people can see your entire profile. Depending on your settings they can also send you messages. This means you might get a little spam here and there. If you’re looking for a job and want to be contacted by recruiters you should also be prepared for some spam. It comes with the territory, and the benefits far outweigh the hassle of deleting a few spammy messages.
Another downside is that you’ll see updates from all of your connections on your “Activity Feed.” I personally ignore the activity feed for this reason. It’s not worth the time and energy to manually curate your feed. Just chalk this up as a loss, and know that the benefits of having a large network far outweigh the annoyance having a useless activity feed.
Reminder: You’re on the internet. Never send sensitive information to strangers. Keep your credit card and Social Security numbers to yourself and you should be just fine.
How To Get Your First 25 LinkedIn Connections
Your first 25 connections are the hardest, so I’m going to show you how to get them as quickly as possible. Once you reach this milestone, your profile looks like a real person, and it’s a lot easier to make even more connections. After doing the exercises in this chapter you’ll have at least 25 connections, and you’ll be ready to begin the more advanced tactics laid out in the rest of this guide. Let’s get started!
Let LinkedIn Find Connections For You
Some people on LinkedIn have over 10,000 connections! If you’ve just signed up, you likely have 1-5 of your own. Don’t get discouraged, LinkedIn has made it super easy to get started by going through your email contact list to find people you know who are already on LinkedIn.
Don’t worry, you’ll get to look through the list of people before it invites everyone. Choose the people you want to add and LinkedIn will send them a message. Note: I’ve seen a few news stories lately where people have accidentally sent invitations to their entire address books (ex-girlfriends and all). Oops – That’s embarrassing! Pay attention to which boxes you select and double check everything before you hit the ‘send’ button to avoid this. Give people a couple of days to respond and you’ll have a whole group of connections.
- Sign in to LinkedIn
- Hover over “My Network” at the top of the page, and click on “Add Connections”
- Find the ‘Add Connections’ link and click it.
- Then just follow the on-screen instructions.
Connections On Connections
Once you’re connected with someone you can view a list of everyone they’re connected to. Sign in to LinkedIn and click on ‘Contacts’ at the top of the page. A list of everyone you’re connected to will appear. Next to each person’s name will be a number. This is the number connections they have.
Click on a few people’s names to view their profile. In the very top section of their profile you’ll see this number again. Click on it for a full list and look for people you know. Invite anyone you know to connect with you.
LinkedIn allows you to search for people by name, email address, city, school, or company. Try entering your company’s name into the search box and see who pops up. If you don’t see anyone you know, try narrowing it down by name or location. Or search for your old classmates, former bosses, or friends/family.
Using LinkedIn Groups Wisely
Grow Your Network With LinkedIn Groups
In this chapter you’ll learn about LinkedIn groups and why you need to join them. I’ll share the best types of groups you can join right away. And how to change your group privacy settings to reduce spam and unwanted emails.
Why Join LinkedIn Groups?
Before we jump into which groups to join, let’s take a minute and talk about why you should care. You learned in an earlier chapter how adding more connections helps recruiters and hiring managers find you on LinkedIn. But you can only get so far with connections. It’s not like you can connect with a million people in a day, right?
Lucky for you, LinkedIn also lets you see your fellow group members, and more importantly, lets them see you. That means you can greatly improve your search visibility just by joining the right groups. In fact, by joining a few of the type of groups I recommend in this chapter, you can easily add over a million new people who can find you in search. Think that will improve your odds of being found on LinkedIn? You bet!
If you’ve been following along you should have at least 25 connections by now. If you’re still working on that, wait a few days before starting the activities in this chapter. LinkedIn group owners will often restrict their groups to members with at least 25 connections to help filter out fake accounts and spam bots.
How to Find the Best Groups
Joining groups is easy. Just use the search box at the top of every page. Type in the group name or keyword and click the search button. Then select Groups in the left sidebar to only look for groups.
When you see the group you want to join, click the Join button on the right. Most groups will make you a member right away. But some groups have stricter privacy settings in place. For those groups you’ll have to wait for the group owner to approve you. This usually just takes a day or two.
The Best Groups to Join First
If you want to be found on LinkedIn, the best types of groups to join are really large groups and groups for Accounting/Finance recruiters or jobs in your area. Here are some example searches you can do to find powerful groups.
- Accounting Industry groups: Find a group for the AICPA, or your state’s CPA society. These groups are usually large, and a great way to increase your network size.
- [Your City/State] Recruiters: Join a few groups and make connections with recruiters in your area.
- [Accounting/Finance/Audit/Tax] Jobs: Join groups posting the type of jobs you’re looking for.
- [Your School] Alumni: Most universities have an official alumni group where you can network with classmates and fellow alumni. Make the most of that $100 thousand education!
LinkedIn Group Privacy Settings
One of my biggest frustrations with LinkedIn is that your profile will display all the groups you’re a member of unless you change your privacy settings. Remember that, by default, ALL GROUPS are visible on your profile. This isn’t a problem for professional organizations and alumni groups. But it could cause trouble if your boss sees that you joined a group called “I hate my boss and want a new job.”
How to Change Your Group Privacy Settings
By default, LinkedIn also sends you a lot of emails when you join groups. You’ll get a list of every post in the group, and the group owner will be allowed to email you every week. This gets annoying pretty fast after you’ve joined a lot of groups. So let’s change your privacy settings to turn all that off.
Now that you’ve joined some groups, go to your My Groups page to see a list of all groups you’ve joined. Click on the Gear icon next to each group to edit your privacy settings for that group. Uncheck all the boxes, except for ‘Allow members of this group to send me messages”
Now you’ll be able to receive messages from recruiters or hiring managers who find you through the group, but you won’t be overrun with emails from LinkedIn every day. And the group’s logo won’t show up on your public profile. Save your changes, and you’re all set. Don’t forget to do this each time you join a new group.
Advanced LinkedIn Tactics
LinkedIn Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
By now you’ve followed the steps in this guide to create a professional profile. You’ve increased the size of your network by making connections and joining groups. All that’s left is to optimize your profile for the LinkedIn search engine. This is called “SEO.” You may already be using SEO and not even know it. Some people call it by a slightly less fancy name, “Use words that people are searching for in your profile.” To do this you need to put yourself in the recruiter’s shoes and think about what they’re typing into the search box to find a great candidate like you.
An Example of How To Choose the Right Words
Do you think a recruiter is more likely to search for “CPA” or “Certified Public Accountant”? How about “MBA” vs. “Masters of Business Administration”?
“CPA” is by far the more common term, so by including only “Certified Public Accountant” in your profile would cause you to be overlooked by most recruiters, even though you’re a perfect fit for the job.
When you think about it, LinkedIn SEO is just common sense. How would a recruiter know that you have certain skills if you don’t list them in your profile? The hardest part of doing proper SEO is knowing which words to include. We’ll go over that in a minute, but first a word of warning.
When you think about it, LinkedIn SEO is just common sense.LinkedIn Guide for Accountants
Warning: Don’t Go Overboard
It’s tempting to go completely overboard here and just include every possible keyword in your profile. This might be good for helping you appear in searches, but you also need to think about what happens when a recruiter actually reads your profile. If all she sees a jumbled mess of words she won’t be impressed. You’ll look like you’re just trying to game the system.
It’s a constant balancing act to include enough keywords to get noticed while making sure that a real person can actually read your profile to learn more about you.
Finding the Right Words
Before you can add keywords to your profile, you’ll need a list of words to add. Get out a notebook or an Excel spreadsheet and let’s get started. Keep in mind the words you choose to include will depend largely on your goals. This will take 10-20 minutes to do correctly. Trust me, it’s worth it.
Spy On Your Competition
You have millions of LinkedIn profiles at your fingertips. Use them for inspiration to make yours better! Put your recruiter hat back on and imagine you’re hiring for your dream job. Do a LinkedIn search for that job title. Do your best to find real people who you would be interested in hiring for that job.
Read their profiles making note of the following:
- How do they describe their work experience? Do you have similar experience? Is it listed on your profile?
- What keywords keep showing up, over and over again in these profiles? Pay special attention to what they include in their Job Title, Headline and Summary sections. These are the words they think are most important.
- What Skills do they have listed? Do you have any of these skills? Are they skills you can get with a little effort? Are they relevant to the job you want?
Use Job Postings
Search Indeed.com for the job you want in a few major cities. Read the top 10-15 job postings for each city what they have in common?
Do they all ask for the same skills, or describe the job using the same words? Add these words and phrases to your short list and consider including them in your profile.
The Right Way to Use Acronyms
Using acronyms is risky because not all recruiters are familiar with your industry. Some of them fill jobs for all departments at the company and don’t have time to learn about each one. On the other hand, there are times when it’s likely that only the acronym will be used, like our ‘MBA’ example from earlier.
A common way to avoid confusion is to include both the long form and the abbreviation or acronym in your profile. That way you cover all bases and your profile will still be readable. Try something like this: Masters in Business Administration (MBA)
Now, Add Only The Best Keywords to Your Profile
Now that you have a list of keywords to add, choose your top three. We’re only going to add these three words to your profile right now. Remember, you don’t want to go overboard adding every word you found. Your profile would be a mess.
The best places to add these words are your Headline, Summary and Job titles. But only if you can add them in a way that’s still easy to read by a real person. Let’s assume that SEC reporting is one of your key words. Here’s a couple examples of how you could naturally include that in your profile:
Headline: Audit Manager with SEC reporting experience
Job Description: Manager | SEC Reporting, Manufacturing Industry, SOX