You’ve heard one or more of these statements before, I’m sure:
- “Do you use LinkedIn?”
- “Update your LinkedIn profile.”
- “If you aren’t on LinkedIn, now is the time to start.”
These are all sentences that may very well have come your way if you’re telling people you’re currently in the market for a new position. And rightfully so. LinkedIn is without a doubt the most beneficial social media platform to you during this time. Why? Because realistically, your next job is going to come from your immediate network, and not from sending your resume into the abyss as you would on any run-of-the-mill job posting website.
This is the crucial time when you need to be leveraging and expanding your current network in pursuit of your next opportunity, and LinkedIn is an invaluable tool to help you do that. Of course, simply having a profile isn’t enough. You’ve got to know how to enhance it and utilize it as a personal marketing tool.
Here are some tips to help you bring your profile from “Beginner” to “Expert” in no time.
Make a catchy professional headline
This is what people are going to see when they search for your name, or if it pops up through mutual connections. If you were employed, this is where you’d put what you do and where you work, but for the time being, don’t sweat it. You can easily put that you’re searching for a job, but you want to describe yourself in a way that’s not only accurate but effectively positions you among your targeted employers. It’s all in how you word it.
Take mine, for example. “Experienced Marketing Communications Professional Seeking New Opportunity.” It describes me at face value: I’m a marketing professional with experience, as you can tell by scrolling down my profile (more on that later.) The second part of it is that I’m not “looking for a job”, but “seeking new opportunity”. See how much more polished that sounds? It also helps you to come across as an effective communicator. Again, word choice is very important, as you’ll see as we move down your profile.
For more on headlines, check out LinkedIn Headline Ideas That Don't Suck.
Upload a nice profile picture
Make sure your profile picture is clean and professional and reflects the kind of professional you are or wish to be. This means appearing in a presentable outfit with your best face forward. You don’t have to smile, necessarily, but make sure you appear to be confident, secure and approachable. Next, make sure your face takes up most of the frame and appears before a clean, understated background. And please be the only person in the picture. It’s nice for your potential employer to know that you have children or a significant other. It’s also most likely irrelevant because unless you’re in a family business or partnership, your potential employer isn’t hiring them – he/she will be looking at you.
Write a complete summary
This is the section where you describe yourself in no more than one or two paragraphs. What do you do? What are you looking for in terms of industry and desired position? Depending on the field you’re in, you may want to add a few personal details about yourself. It’s always great to add a human touch since this process can be very mechanized at times, and it’s a good way for someone to know you beyond just a professional scope. Also, if you have a personal website or blog, or have written digital content such as an e-book or white paper, you can share it in this section.
List your experiences completely and thoroughly
Here’s where you list your work experience. Be sure to list all your past experiences and companies, as well as their locations and responsibilities for each. The more thorough you are with this section, the better, as it shows potential employers the full breadth of what you’ve done. For each position, it’s good to have at least four or five different responsibilities, if you’re able to list them. And when you list your previous companies, be sure to connect each listing to the actual LinkedIn page for the company. Then you can get the company’s actual logo on your page, which reinforces your legitimacy and adds a little more flair to your profile.
List your skills and get endorsements
This is incredibly important. Find at least ten things that you think you do very well and would make you attractive to a potential employer. Even if they’re things like “Microsoft Office” or “Microsoft Word” or “PowerPoint”, list them. You never know what special skills your next employer might be looking for.
Once you’ve got your special skills down, seek endorsements from your connections. A great way to get them is to give them first – reciprocity is always best.
Participate in groups
Another wonderful way to make your presence known on LinkedIn is to join groups relevant to your desired career path and consistently participate within them. Between your college alumni association, trade associations, and other industry-specific groups, you should find more than enough communities in which to participate and engage. Try participating at least once a week – the more your face is seen, the more personal brand equity you can build for yourself and the better your chances are of being discovered.
Don’t forget the other sections
Make sure you flesh out the other areas, too.
- Education: Schools, GPA, courses that you think are especially relevant to your desired field, activities in which you participated while in school
- Additional Info: Causes that are important to you, personal email address and social media links (there’s also a space for these links at the very top of your profile)
- Volunteer Experience: This is especially important because many companies are deeply ingrained within the fabric of their communities. It’s great to get involved with community organizations if you aren’t already since that demonstrates a mutual dedication to community service between you and your next employer.
- Honors and Awards
For more tips on sprucing up your LinkedIn profile, check out 19 Essential LinkedIn Profile Tips For Job Seekers.
Those are some basic strategies to begin fleshing out your LinkedIn profile. Think of your profile as you, existing on the digital sphere. The more comprehensive your profile appears to be, the more comprehensive a professional you will appear to be.
All the more reason for somebody to hire you, right? Go get ‘em.