LinkedIn for accounting professionals and why you’re not Steve Jobs

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At this year’s AAT Conference, delegates will be able to have a professional photo taken for their LinkedIn profile.

This got us thinking about LinkedIn best practice and how a modern day professional in the finance industry should be portraying themselves. Here are a few tips.

It’s worth noting before we get started, you can have the best LinkedIn page in the world, but if you’re not behaving professionally on Twitter or Facebook you will still leave behind a negative digital footprint that could jeopardise your career prospects. Approach all of your online activities with the same caution as you would with your LinkedIn page.

1. You’re (probably) not Steve Jobs, so look the part

To be honest, there’s nothing particularly revolutionary here. We asked AAT Facebook fans what tips they had for LinkedIn profile pictures, and we got some great advice:

Always look professional. You can only get away with trainers and a t-shirt as a first impression if you are Steve Jobs… Accountants are professionals, not technology or social media gurus. – Christopher Bowen

In short: the more you  look like an accountant (or rather, someone who works in a professional environment) the better. Hopefully those of you attending the AAT Conference will make the most out of the free photographer present.

2. Everybody is a team player with good time management skills

This isn’t your CV, lose the generic statements (actually, you shouldn’t even be putting things like that on your CV) and show you’re a human being with unique interests and skills. Why do you love the industry that you work in? What unit of the AAT qualification have you excelled in? Have a think about why you did so well and what it was about the subject matter that you enjoyed. Conveying these messages shows genuine pride in what you do. It shows that being an accountant is a career for you, and not just a job. Make the summary section of your profile succinct and personal to you.

3. So you did a week’s work experience at a local office when you were 17…

Unless you’re fresh out of school or don’t have a few other jobs under your belt, save it for your autobiography. It’s tempting to pile everything you have into your LinkedIn profile but less really is more. A potential employer wants the salient facts and this is usually the most relevant or the most important things in your career. LinkedIn is a place for highlights.

4. Don’t go endorsing Finance Directors of FTSE 100 companies to look “connected”

People will know if you have actually worked with someone, so resist the temptation to start promoting people you don’t know just for the sake of it. To be honest, the endorsing feature of LinkedIn is so easily exploited that it can begin to lose its appeal. If everyone begins endorsing everyone else for every little thing, no one is going to know when you’ve actually done a good job that another person has really appreciated. Endorse gently and when you really mean it!

 5. Get more connections than Heathrow on Christmas Eve

Whether you’re currently studying for the AAT qualification or you’re an established Member in Practice, you’re going to be an expert in so many different topics (some of them might not even be accountancy related – and that’s okay!). Join likeminded groups and follow influencers in those fields. Also take the time to follow company pages. Choose companies you would like to work for or just plain respect. Maybe even follow the only accounting technician body to become a full member of IFAC! Use these avenues to interact with professionals similar to you and you will start seeing a difference to your network. These people could be all that stand between you and a dream job.

Follow these tips and make sure your LinkedIn page gets the attention it deserves. Remember to get a nice professional picture taken at the AAT Conference.

Christian Bace is AAT's former Online Community Coordinator.

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