I paid a company R400 to update my LinkedIn profile – here’s what happened

After almost seven years working in the same job position, straight out of university, and repeated complaints from my boss to update my work experience, I paid a company to update my LinkedIn profile.

Many recruitment and CV firms now offer LinkedIn profile services as businesses increasingly opt to hire directly through the platform instead of through more traditional job-match services. LinkedIn is also increasingly being used for networking purposes, with those in similar professions sharing business information and opportunities on the platform.

“Job-seekers and hiring managers alike should consider a good LinkedIn profile as the first introduction to each other, the little ‘hook’ that makes the other party want to know more,” said Advaita Naidoo, managing director: Africa at recruitment firm Jack Hammer Global.

“While a skilled recruiter or hiring manager should never dismiss someone who doesn’t have an updated LinkedIn profile, having an active and up-to-date online presence certainly will set you apart from other candidates early on.”

While some people are uncomfortable building a ‘personal brand’ in an overly ostentatious way, a well-rounded LinkedIn profile can provide insight into you as a person, she said.

“If you’re hoping to be noticed by people outside South Africa, you have to assume that they may not know much about the market you’re working in, so elaborating on your career highlights, and the context in which they were achieved, gives you an advantage.

“Formal cover letters are less relevant in today’s hiring processes, but being able to speak about what makes you a good candidate for a role is still important.”


R400 to update my profile 

I opted to use an international company to update my LinkedIn profile as they promised a two-day turnaround period as opposed to a week or more quoted by South African companies. However, this fast turnaround time and international service came at a cost – £20 (R399) – seemingly high for a social media post update.

Because the entire process took place online, there was also very little feedback as to what I would be getting, whether I would have to handover my login information so that they could edit my account, or whether they would create an entirely new profile from scratch and then hand it over to me.

I was wrong on both accounts. Instead, I was offered something closer to a ‘cooking recipe’, detailing the different areas of my LinkedIn profile to update based on the information I provided.

The point-by-point instructions were pulled from my provided curriculum vitae with wording changes specifically suited for LinkedIn. This includes a list of keywords to include which are considered necessary in my profession.

Arguably, the most valuable piece of information was a list of skills that had been directly curated for my profile and will come up in search terms. Recruiters use these terms to narrow-down potential hires, and employees risk missing out on potential opportunities if they don’t show up in searches.

I was also given more general advice on my LinkedIn profile, including an optimal picture, what information to leave out, and which specific areas to accentuate.

I was encouraged to choose a professional photo in formal wear for my profile picture. While it was noted that a professional photographer is not necessary, it was made clear that those with a professional headshot tend to attract more views.

If you take your own photo, there are ways you can ensure that the picture measures up to the rest of your credentials, with several internet guides and YouTube videos dedicated to an optimal photo.

I was also encouraged to look at the photos of my connections and others in my career field to see what their photos and general profiles look like.

“LinkedIn is constantly refreshing the type of content that you can add about yourself and candidates can pick and choose what information they want to share,” said Naidoo.

At a high level, the non-negotiable elements are:

  • A great photo, taken in a professional setting. Humans are visual creatures and a great headshot, with a smiling and approachable subject, will warm your audience to you.
  • An interesting headline. It’s a misconception that your headline needs to reflect only your job title. If you want to make your profile stand out, you should feel free to capture the “essence” of who you are in the headline.
  • But do be sure to include what you actually do for a job somewhere in your profile.
  • A written story of who you are, including what your career highlights have been and what your aspirations are – there is space for this in the summary section.
  • Your work history, including relevant dates and promotions along the way. This shows that your contributions have been recognised and you have progressed at a good pace.

What to take out 

While some personal touches, to reflect your personality are fantastic, the things that should not be on your profile are:

  • Inappropriate or risqué content. You would think that this goes without saying but there are still many profiles out there that are just not appropriate for work.
  • Criticism of former bosses or companies, even if it’s tongue-in-cheek. It marks you as unprofessional.
  • Old or no-longer-relevant roles that don’t impact your work today.
  • Careless mistakes and typos – this is your future employer’s first impression of you, so ask a trusted advisor to read your profile update before you publish it.
  • Information that is inaccurate or untrue. While it may be tempting to embellish your accomplishments a little, do make sure that whatever you include is verifiable.


What is worth it?

While I am not actively applying for jobs or looking to move positions right now, paying for a LinkedIn update did give me better insight into the hiring process and what exactly is being looked at by recruiters.

While much of the advice given was based on common sense, there definitely seems to be value in having skills and search terms optimised for your specific profession. There is also something to be said for paying a professional firm to update your profile – especially if you are unemployed or actively looking for work.

LinkedIn itself has pointed to an ‘unprecedented’ change in jobs in 2021, primarily due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the associated uncertainty.

“Companies have had to step up to attract and retain talent – from offering more opportunities for promotion and gaining new skills to increasing flexibility,” the company said.

“This was also the case in South Africa, where one survey found that staff turnover had increased by 16% across all sectors last year and that nearly a third of survey participants indicated they struggled to attract new or retain their existing talent. The many changes have put employees and job seekers in the driver’s seat, igniting them to rethink what they expect from an employer today.”


Read: 10 jobs that offer the most work-from-home options in South Africa right now

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I paid a company R400 to update my LinkedIn profile – here’s what happened