What if that perfect job ̶ you know, the one that launches you to corporate stardom ̶is out there, but it just can’t find you?
LinkedIn®, the premier social media networking platform for workers and employers, heightens your visibility and helps you connect with businesses looking for your specific skills. It’s sort of like Facebook for the working world. If you aren’t maximizing this career-boosting professional network, here are ten steps to help you get started:
- First, create or update your LinkedIn®profile. According to LinkedIn®, there are 645 million members worldwide, 180+ million in the U.S., 30 million companies, and more than 20 million open jobs listed on LinkedIn®. That’s a lot of recruiting power to put in your job-hunting arsenal! This site is often the first place a hiring manager goes to check out your credentials and determine if you are worth a second look, so be sure to complete all the sections. LinkedIn®prompts will even suggest ways to make your profile more complete.
- Upload a professional photo that best reflects your personality. According to Ben Pascale, Senior Account Executive, Search and Staffing at LinkedIn®, members with a photo get nine times more connection requests, 21 times more profile views, and 36 times more messages. Just be sure to use an up-to-date, high-resolution photo (400×400 pixels is fine) that conveys your personal brand. If you cannot afford the $150 – $200 for a professional headshot, have a friend take a shoulders-up photo that best reflects you, with good lighting and an uncluttered background.
- Think of your LinkedIn®profile page as an online resume and your unique personal brand-building billboard. Before you begin, gather your current employment history, awards, and educational background, or access an updated resume. LinkedIn®gives you lots of space, so prepare to supply plenty of detail. Karina Parra, Executive Recruiter at Partnership Employment explains: “I’ve come across so many users with the bare minimum on their profiles, which makes it harder for us to find them when we run searches. They should know that including skills, keywords, and a brief description of what they do, makes them more searchable.”
- SEO keywords are key throughout your LinkedIn®profile! Talent scouts use SEO keywords to search for candidates to review, so as you prepare your Headline and About sections, pack them with as many industry-specific terms you can think of. For example, instead of your headline (the words beneath your name) reading, “IT Director,” use the allotted 120 characters to describe the benefit you provide:
Experienced Senior IT EHR Program Director. MUMPS, DICOM, HL7, E/M Coding for EMR Companies. Seeking New Opportunities
DO NOT use the term “unemployed” in your headline, but you may mention that you are “actively seeking,” “open to new opportunities,” or even “seeking internship for…” if you are a college student.
- Share your authentic self. The About section is a summary of who you are, what you are passionate about, past accomplishments, and what you hope to achieve in your career, so don’t skip this. You get 2,000 characters to tell your story, express your personality, and hopefully convey why a recruiter can consider themselves lucky to have viewed your profile. Enrich your summary with informative keywords and watch your “who viewed you” Dashboard numbers grow!
- The Experience section is the go-to read for hiring managers. Begin with an overview of your current job and four or five bulleted accomplishments in the present tense, followed by past employment and bulleted achievements written in past tense. As you list your responsibilities, don’t be modest! DO quantify your successes by using action verbs and explaining results: “Developed a new workflow app that reduced project time by 300%.”
- Polish your profile, omitting all typos and grammatical errors! Poor writing skills can keep you from being hired and can even get you fired. Glaring errors will turn off recruiters, as multiple studies show that employers want candidates with strong written communication skills.
- Build your list of Connections (click My Network). You can allow LinkedIn®to import your contact list or start from scratch by inviting only those people who supply value to your network. Building a quality connections list means evaluating whether a person’s orbit of contacts can help further your career. Your network connections will show how serious you are about your profession, so choose wisely. LinkedIn®will help by making recommendations, so click Connect to send a request. Unless you accept, no one will be able to access your profile depending upon your account privacy settings (click Me/Settings & Privacy under your profile picture). Be aware that your profile will not show up in searches unless you make it public, which could prevent potential employers from finding you!
- Share your profile by creating a custom URL. While you are in Profile view (click on your photo), select “Edit public profile URL” in the top right corner. You can then enter a custom address, for example, www.LinkedIn.com/in/jenni_smith or www.LinkedIn.com/in/BradwithCarma_HR. Do not forget to include the URL on your resume and share within your job targets’ network.
- What if you don’t want your boss to know you are job hunting? LinkedIn®allows users to avoid signaling their boss that they are open to new opportunities. Either by using Open Candidates or by hiding your activity updates, you can make yourself visible to recruiters while avoiding upsetting your boss and co-workers.
Now that you are on LinkedIn®, know that it works best as a collaborative space. Be proactive and let your professional interests shine! To increase your visibility with members, keep up with your news feed. Post comments, “like” relevant articles, and share your professional opinions, blogs, or white papers. The platform posts work anniversaries, birthdays, and promotions, so clicking “Congrats!” could invite a valuable conversation. Collecting skills endorsements and recommendations from peers elevates your credibility to recruiters. Be sure to return the favor for deserving contacts.
Don’t wait for recruiters to find you; you can also actively search for opportunities by clicking the Jobs icon at the top of your homepage. And when you do receive an InMail query offering a position you are not interested in, pay it forward to a connection which is. Treat recruiters with respect; a simple “No thank you, but I would be interested in…” is all it takes to keep the lines open for your next terrific opportunity on LinkedIn®!