LinkedIn is launching a brand-new tool that you can use to make an impression on those who might want to hire you. The service’s new “Video Cover Stories” are just one more lever you’ll have to pull to make yourself as competitive as everyone else, so you might as well start planning now.
Videos are likely to be the new hustle-culture way to make yourself look slightly more interesting than everyone else on LinkedIn, and they’re going to take a bunch of forms: Some people will shoot terrible videos that will actually hurt their chances; most people will shoot mediocre videos that just say exact what their LinkedIn profiles already say; and some will overshoot their videos, turning their resumes into a Michael Bay-like creation that will either get them the jobs they’re looking for (especially if they’re influencer or social media-related) or earn them ridicule on a subreddit.
If you’re thinking of using this feature when it debuts—and you should—don’t wing it. How you present yourself to a potential recruiter or hiring manager is just as important digitally as it would be in person. You wouldn’t just walk up to someone and start babbling about your professional life without a little prep, right? And you definitely wouldn’t do that without making yourself presentable.
Don’t be afraid to script your introduction, but keep it natural
For starters, you want to think about what you’re going to say before you say it. If you feel more natural going impromptu, great, but you’re still going to benefit by writing down your general talking points—perhaps even having them on a screen in gigantic font so you can quickly glance at them, if needed. And if you’re speaking off the cuff isn’t your forte, you may want to script it.
When you write out what you’ll be broadcasting to your LinkedIn audience, keep it conversational. You’re not trying to wow anyone with perfectly crafted sentences. If you do, great, but generally speaking, err on the side of sounding like a human being rather than a human being reading something that doesn’t sound like how people actually converse in real life. The joy of a video introduction is that you get a chance to show someone the real you. The real you isn’t someone reading over-edited copy from a piece of paper. The real you has personality. That’s your script, which you might not even need to refer to once you’ve done a few revisions and start to notice that your phrasing and talking points are starting to stick with you.
A professional video introduction isn’t a selfie
Even if you sound slightly more robotic in your video introduction, it’s forgivable as long as your video has a high-quality appearance. What does this mean? Two words: lighting and sound. Make sure that whatever lighting setup you’re using makes you look good, not like you’re filming a quick Snapchat for your friends. Typically, I’d recommend filming using outdoor lighting whenever possible (not outdoors per se, but position yourself near a source of sunlight so you look great while you speak).
Similarly, if you’re using a webcam or smartphone that’s not high quality, you might want to get your hands on one. A grainy, pixelated video doesn’t help you sell your best self. Also, don’t use your smartphone’s selfie camera if you can avoid it, and prop your phone on something or buy a cheap tripod. (You could possibly even let a friend or loved one film you, but they’ll need a steady hand.)
As for sound, don’t film your video introduction in a place with distracting background noise (be it a small hum or cars zooming by in the background) or an echo. Empty rooms and bathrooms are not your friends. If your voice sounds muffled, muted, or otherwise bad, you’ll need to adjust your setup or possibly consider investing in a cheap lavalier microphone for your recording device.
That’s a bit overkill, I know, but if a professional-looking video introduction helps you land your next gig, who cares?
Self-evaluate your video shoot and be critical
You’ll want to review your video introduction. Don’t be afraid to shoot as many retakes as you need, and check for obvious things that might look weird for someone viewing your video for the first time. For example, do you l0ok into the lens the whole time or do your eyes wander? Does it blatantly appear you’re reading a script from a screen that’s positioned off-center from your camera?
How does your face look? If you’re getting a lot of light reflecting off your skin, adjust your surroundings or reconsider your makeup choices. Regardless of gender, it won’t kill you to put a little powder on your face at minimum. Consider foundation or concealer to smooth out any blemishes. Moisturize those lips. Trim those eyebrows. I won’t get into the full beauty regimen here, but if I only had one chance to impress someone who might give me a better career opportunity, you bet I would use every tool possible to look my best.
Are your clothes wrinkled? They shouldn’t be. Does your outfit work with your background and lighting? Are you blending in too much? Standing out too much? Be as critical as possible.
Look at other peoples’ videos, once the LinkedIn feature goes live, and see how yours stacks up. Do you stand out from the crowd? Are you boring? Do you sound authentic? Does your monologue sound weird? Are you giving new information about yourself in a fun, introductory format, or are you repeating catchphrases from your resume? If you’ve done a great job, I’m happy for you; if you’re worried that your video now looks lame, guess what? You can fix it. Shoot a new video.
Don’t think you’ll only make one video intro
Consider tweaking your video introduction whenever you have more to say about yourself. Did you just nail a new accomplishment? Reshoot a new introduction that puts that information up front. Did you move, and you now have a gorgeous natural setting to use as a video background? Why not film something different? Are you targeting a different type of job in your never-ending search? Shoot a video that’s more targeted, rather than risk sounding generic.
A LinkedIn video cover story isn’t a TikTok, but, even there, quality tends to attract popularity. Give your professional audience a great-looking video introduction, and that might be just the little bit extra you need to take your first steps toward amazing new opportunities. If nothing else, maybe you can add “video producer” to your list of LinkedIn skills.