Expand Your Network with LinkedIn as a CMA

Congrats, you’ve earned your CMA designation! Now what?

If you’re job hunting, expanding your network should be your next step.

It’s important to not only have a strong professional network offline, but also online, utilizing platforms like LinkedIn. Your online net of connections can be a lifesaver when you feel like you’re drowning among a sea of job candidates.

Apply our must-have tips on how you can use LinkedIn to make your profile stand out among the crowd and gain more connections.

How to Build a Professional Network through LinkedIn

Ideally, you want to start building solid connections while you’re preparing to become a CMA. However, it’s not too late if you are just now starting to network.

LinkedIn is one of the top places many recruiters go to search for qualified candidates. The problem is that the ratio of available jobs to candidates can be slim, so your profile and job application can easily get lost in a whirlpool of other well-qualified job candidates.

Make your profile more appealing by branding yourself as a professional.

1. Show your personality with profile branding

LinkedIn is an effective place to develop your professional brand, and like all brands, you need to show your personality to highlight who you are and who you’re targeting as connections. The first step in doing that is to snap a picture-perfect photo for your profile picture.

Tips for making your profile photo catch a recruiter’s eye:

  • Strike a professional pose, ideally a head shot.
  • Wear business formal or business casual attire.
  • Check for any wrinkles or stains in your clothing.
  • Make sure your hair is groomed.
  • If you’re not taking a professional photo indoors with proper lighting, take advantage of natural lighting outdoors.
  • Choose a background that’s not too distracting. You want the photo to focus on your face, not what’s around you.
  • Make sure your face is in focus, not blurry or grainy. Check if you’re using the right resolution for the profile photo. LinkedIn’s photo size for profile photos is 400 × 400 pixels or larger (recommended).

The next step is to personalize your background photo. It’s an extra step to take, but it’s worth it when recruiters are quickly skimming through hundreds of similar profiles. Let yours be the one that makes them stop to take a second look.

Tips for making your background photo pop with personality:

  • Swap out the same boring background everyone else is using for an image that shows off your personality. You can get creative with it but keep it professional. Maybe you own a business or you’re a student ambassador or a Campus Rep at your school–choose an image that reflects those interesting and unique details about you.
  • Use Photoshop or a free program like Canva to create a quality background photo. Again, check to make sure you’re using the correct specifications. The current specs for LinkedIn’s background image is a resolution of 1400 × 425 (PNG, JPG, or GIF).

2. Sell yourself with a professional headline

Your headline is the next thing that potential connections will see. Think “Who, What, and Why” when deciding what to insert in that nutshell of a space.

You can write your current job title, however, include your expertise if you want that to be what people need to know about you. This is essential if you’re looking to change careers. Include skills you want to show up in searches. Do it all in a way that quickly tells people who you are, what you do or can do, and why you’re worth connecting with.

Here are some examples of how to write your headline as a CMA:

Lyla Lee, CMA
Experienced Controller
Discover how to take your business to the next level.

Terry Days, MBA, CMA
Accounting Manager, Senior Financial Analyst
Let’s find the right strategy to enhance your company’s performance.

Note how both of them list their certifications next to their name, then they highlight their role(s), which are key words that will show up in searches. The last line offers a benefit to the potential connection. Both of these headlines tell people who they are, what they do, and why they should add them as a connection.

3. Stun them with an impressive summary

The summary section of your profile is your two-minute elevator pitch, so write wisely!

  • Use it to expand on your headline. This is where you highlight your best attributes: career experience, achievements, skills, and specialties.
  • Sell yourself with confidence without sounding arrogant.
  • Use bullet points to make it easier to read and to drive key points you want potential connections to focus on.
  • Pay attention to detail.
  • Eliminate typos and grammar mistakes.
  • Be consistent–stick with first or third person.

If writing is not one of your strengths, search for samples of catchy summaries to guide you on how to write your summary. You can find samples of well-written summaries in LinkedIn’s blog. If you’re a student, ask your career resources or student adviser for help. Ask a friend, professor, or adviser to proofread it before adding it to your profile.

4. Dazzle them with visual content

In today’s digital era, visual content rises above the rest. Use it to help your profile rise to the top of a connection’s must-follow list.

Did you present at a conference? Did you write a paper that was published in an academic journal? Did you break the internet with a video project that went viral? Don’t be shy! Slip that media into your summary to entice potential connections to learn more about you and make them want to hit that connect button.

Here is an example of how your media content will appear in your Summary:

LinkedIn profile Summary

5. Show, don’t tell your job experience

Don’t fall flat with dull job descriptions. Paint a vivid picture to highlight your job experience.

Apply these tips to help you:

  • Be genuine and don’t be afraid to use hard-hitting action words to make an impact, similar to how you would bullet point your resume. Think what words best demonstrate why your role in that company was vital to its growth and success.

For accounting and finance, here are some action words you can use:

Accounted

Budgeted

Depreciated

Identfied

Migrated

Reconciled

Assessed

Certified

Distributed

Invoiced

Organized

Researched

Audited

Claimed

Expended

Justified

Projected

Taxed

Analyzed

Credited

Forecasted

Managed

Processed

Tracked

  • Numbers work wonders! People have an easier time relating accomplishments to data, especially in the world of accounting and finance. Remember, your fellow accountants will be the ones looking at your profile, so use their love for data to draw them in as a connection. Illustrate how you helped improve a business by adding numerical amounts to your job descriptions.
  • Point out that you’ve worked in various physical locations, if applicable. This will highlight that you’ve expanded your experience beyond the day-to-day tasks. It’ll show you have exposure to different atmospheres and different business cultures, which helps boost your appeal as a CMA.

6. More is more: use additional sections

It doesn’t hurt to add multiple sections to your page to attract the right connections. In this case, the more sections you have, the better. Let these additional sections speak for you.

Add your volunteer efforts, causes you’re passionate about, clubs and organizations you participate in, awards, and other sections that help shine the spotlight on all your best qualities.

7. Win them over with your skills and endorsements

If a potential connection, specifically a recruiter, is still looking at your profile, keep them swooning. Show off your skills and endorsements. This is the section they have their eyes on when they’re looking to fill a position. Give them a reason to reach out to you. Highlight your accounting knowledge with topics like operational budgeting and Blockchain and your expertise with accounting applications, such as Quickbooks and Excel.

Receiving endorsements are great, but make sure they’re accurate. In this case, more isn’t necessarily better if it doesn’t ring true.

8. Personalize your profile URL

Numbers may do wonders, but not when it comes to your profile URL. Don’t be another number! Say goodbye to that numbered URL and customize it with your name. This is the icing on top that will make you stand out. It’ll add that extra spark to branding yourself as a professional.

You can edit your profile URL on the right-hand side of your profile page, which appears as the LinkedIn image below.

How to edit your LinkedIn profile URL

9. Publish valuable content

CMAs are known for their leadership abilities and credibility. What better way to enhance that than by being a thought leader on LinkedIn. Publish and share posts that are valuable to your existing connections and to potential connections.

The first step is to see what others in your industry are publishing to learn what will resonate with your connections and potential connections. Comment on pieces that catch your attention. Share articles you’re reading that you think your connections will find useful. When you’re ready, dive in with your own article or video on LinkedIn.

Do this consistently to increase your visibility for more connections to discover you.

Watch our video for additional tips to polish your LinkedIn profile.

 

Read the Video Transcript

Hello CPA candidates. Welcome. Thanks for joining me. I’m Bernadyn Nettles, the social media coordinator here at Gleim. Today, I’ll be talking about getting your social media accounts ready for accounting recruiting season.

Now, you don’t want to neglect your appearance online if you’re looking for a job. Employers and recruiters want to learn more about you, so they’ll most likely look at your online accounts, and that could be the first impression they have of you. That’s why I’m giving you tips on how you can put your best foot forward on your social media channels, especially for LinkedIn.

Now, before we jump in, I’m going to leave a question for you to answer. Please leave that in the comments. Here is the question: What is the percentage of recruiters who look at LinkedIn to find and vet job candidates? I’ll return to that in a few minutes. Also, leave any questions you have for me in the comments too.

So, there are two things you need to remember about social media when looking for a job: 1) Use your social media to market yourself as your own personal brand; 2) View your accounts as if you’re the recruiter. Think about how you’ll catch a recruiter’s eye.

The first step is you do need a LinkedIn account. If you’re not on there, just go ahead and create an account now, after this video is over. But, before you make your profile public for everyone to see, keep it on private until it’s ready.

The second step: Clean up house. In other words, audit your accounts. Start with cleaning up your profile, even if it’s set to private. Start with your photo, even your Facebook profile. If it’s set to private, you do want to make sure your photo is a decent picture. Now, don’t forget about that header cover photo on your Facebook profile and your other social media channels. You’ll want to make sure that’s appropriate too. But, don’t be afraid to use that as another way to show your personality.

Another thing you do want to do is to remove any posts, photos, or other peoples’ posts that you’re tagged in that could be interpreted as inappropriate. Alright, so what about privacy settings? Even if your Facebook profile is set to private, you do want hiring managers to be able to see your professional skills, employment, and education in those sections in your bio. So fill out those sections completely. That’s just another quick way to market yourself.

Okay, now we’re going to talk about LinkedIn. Okay, so what should you include in LinkedIn? Definitely have a professional profile photo on there, but it doesn’t mean it has to be an expensive photo. Nowadays, you can go to job fairs and conferences, and usually they offer photos for free. You can also get a head shot with a friend. Just go outside, have good lighting, and make sure the scenery is nice. Now, stay away from busy backgrounds. You want to focus on your face.

Okay, so next on LinkedIn, you do want that headline section to be filled out. You want to write your job title, or you can just put your expected graduation year if you’re not currently working. The summary section on LinkedIn – that’s very important. You want that to be your 30-second commercial. You want it to show your personality, but keep it professional. Don’t use it, though, as another way to push your whole entire resume.

Your education section – fill that out completely as well. For the work experience and volunteer work that you’ve done, if it’s relevant to the job you’re looking for, go ahead and include that information also. If you have attended things like conferences, and you’ve actually had a presentation that you may have participated in, go ahead and include that in your LinkedIn channel.
Finally, let recruiters know that you are open to job opportunities. Turn on that option on your LinkedIn channel.

Okay, so what not to include on social media. Don’t over-share. You want to stand out from other job candidates, but you don’t want to stand out in a negative way. So just watch what you’re sharing. So don’t like, comment, or share posts on any of your social media accounts that you wouldn’t want a hiring manager or recruiter to see. Remember, they may be able to see your activities on social media, so just stop and think before you like, comment, or share.

Now, what else can you do on social media to help you land your dream accounting job? Be social. Use social media to network. Connect with potential employers. Follow the company that you’re interested in applying to. Like their posts. You can even connect with their HR department if you see them on there.

Also, send a personalized message if you want to connect with them on LinkedIn. Don’t just leave that box blank.
Okay, now back to the question that I asked you earlier. What’s the percentage of recruiters who look at LinkedIn to find and vet job candidates? Let’s see if anyone got it right.

Hi Monica. Thank you for joining us. Should you make your accounts private or public during recruiting season? Okay, that’s a good question. So during recruiting season, I would still keep them private if you are more comfortable with that. Now, I’m talking about other accounts, not LinkedIn. Definitely have that public, once it’s completely ready to go. But, like I mentioned earlier, if it’s on private for let’s say Facebook, you do want the bio section under your name filled out where you can include a headline. Go ahead and put the job you’re working at for that too and include your education and professional skills if you have space for it.

Let’s see if we have any other questions. Should you put your social media accounts on your resume, another question from Monica. Thank you. I would say nowadays it’s very common, and especially your LinkedIn. You can actually put a clickable link in there on resumes if you’re submitting it online. So yes, go ahead and do that.

Alright, let’s see if anyone answered the question that I gave them earlier. I will go ahead and give you that answer. The answer is over 90%. Now, that is a big number, and that’s just for LinkedIn. Fun fact: 70% of employers use social media to screen job candidates on all the other channels. So we’re talking about – that’s a big number for just your social media accounts that your future job could be looking at. So just make sure all of that is decent and completely filled out. You want it searchable as much as possible.

Alright, let’s see one more time if anyone has questions for me. Going once, going twice. Alright, if you have a question that we didn’t answer here, or if you have anymore questions after this video, go ahead and leave them in the comments, and we’ll be sure to answer them.

Also, be social on here too. Leave each other tips that maybe have worked for you. And don’t forget to like and follow our Facebook page to stay updated on exam news and tips. We’re also on Instagram and Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google Plus.
So until next time, good luck CPA candidates. Thanks for watching.

10. Get connected

Once your profile is polished and you’ve proofread it from head to toe, go out there and build connections!

How to develop your network as a CMA

  1. Start with finding fellow CMAs to connect with. Don’t forget about connections from your school if you’re a student or if you’re a recent graduate. Connect with your peers, professors, and advisers.
  2. Then look for organizations related to management accounting. Connect with fellow IMA members.
  3. Search for companies you’re considering applying to. Reach out to their human resources department. Connect with employees who already work there. Ask to see how you can set up informational interviews or schedule a casual call to talk to someone in your industry.
  4. Search for accounting internships as a way to gain more experience and networking opportunities. Accounting internships can offer multiple benefits to your CMA career.
  5. Join groups and discussions on LinkedIn that are related to management accounting, accounting, finance, and CMAs.

After you find someone you want to connect with, send them a personalized message to ask to connect. Introduce yourself and let them know you would like to add them to your network. Let them know what you saw in their profile that led you to connect with them.

You never know which network will lead you to your dream accounting job. As your career takes off, maintain your personal brand by keeping your profile updated, and stay active on LinkedIn to maintain a strong network.

Find connections through job openings

LinkedIn makes it easy for you to look for job openings and for recruiters to know you’re looking for a job. Type in key words with the positions or job duties you are interested in. Be sure your profile’s public visibility is turned on.

You can also set your profile to show you’re available to work by using the Open Candidates feature on LinkedIn. You can turn this option on under the Career Interests section of your dashboard. There is a drop-down menu that lists different options to let recruiters know where you are in your job search:

  • Actively applying
  • Casually looking
  • Not looking, but open to offers
  • Not open to offers

Include a note to recruiters to make your profile stand out even more. The following image from LinkedIn shows what the Career Interests section looks like from your dashboard.

How to let recruiters know you're open to offers

You can add the job title you’re considering, location you would like for your next job, and if you’re open to working remotely. You can be more specific about what types of jobs you’re open to, such as full-time, internship, volunteer, or temporary. Add the industry you’re interested in, and you can even narrow it down by company size (number of employees).

How Else Can You Expand Your Network?

Remember that you also need to develop your network offline. An effective way to network as a CMA is by joining an accounting association. You can find several ways to do this when you join the IMA. One of the many benefits of the IMA membership is the networking and community support you receive, before and after you pass your exam.

Add CMA to your profile

Give your LinkedIn profile that extra boost by becoming a CMA! The CMA designation is a global certification that is becoming more popular around the world. Pass the exam to show you’re an expert in your industry.

If you still need to pass your CMA exam, Gleim is in your corner and can offer you the support you need to pass. No matter where you are on your CMA journey, we’re here to help! Check out our free CMA Exam Guide that covers everything you need to know from start to finish about the CMA exam.