If you have a LinkedIn profile but haven’t made the effort to manage and optimize it – it may be hurting instead of helping your job search.
I get a lot of people who come to me for help constructing a professional resume, and they often have questions around whether or not they need a LinkedIn profile, and why. Besides the fact that LinkedIn has become the standard in digital personal branding, with more than 200 million members, it’s also the venue of choice for online talent sourcing used by recruiters and hiring managers. But the buck doesn’t stop there – there are plenty of reasons to utilize LinkedIn to its potential:
- Accessing the “hidden” job market by communicating with peers in your industry.
- Access to LinkedIn’s own exclusive job board of otherwise unadvertised opportunities.
- Professional networking circles, or groups, that put you practically in the same room with your potential peers and managers, and can help build your visibility.
- Ability to tap into the networks of your close connections, giving you exponentially more reach versus networking on your own in person.
- A standardized and non-invasive system for asking peers, colleagues, clients, and supervisors for recommendations and testimonials on your work.
- Search functionalities that allow you to identify key decision makers and contacts within target organizations you’re applying to.
- A specially-designed format that gives you more flexibility than a resume to highlight additional professional areas such as Special Projects, Volunteer Work & Causes, and Organizations and Groups of interest.
And the list goes on. If you’re in the beginning stages of creating a profile, or have a profile that needs a bit of a facelift, here are few key points to start with:
A Completed Profile is a Better Profile
You’ll see a “Completeness Score” in the top right side of your screen while editing your profile that tells you which parts of your profile still need information filled in. Use this as a guide, as the higher your completeness score, the better your chances of ranking high in a search query.
Don’t Copy the Resume Completely
LinkedIn’s format doesn’t take well to any of your typically resume formatting tricks (no bolds, italics, caps, etc.). Avoid bullet points, and try to keep your job descriptions concise and in paragraph format. You can leave off lengthy lists of accomplishments, projects, and clients in many cases as well. Remember, this is a sneak peak, not the full story, and is meant to be a general summary of your experience, so focus on that – experience and skills.
Lead In Strong
As with your resume, it’s important to have a strong Summary on your profile to give an impactful branding snapshot of you top skills, strengths and experience. This also sets the stage for the rest of the profile, and gives you room to highlight any important bits of information that don’t fit underneath the job descriptions. Don’t leave it blank!
Ask for Recommendations
LinkedIn has a really great standardized form for asking for professional recommendations, so it’s less uncomfortable. Having at least 2 recommendations on your profile significantly increases your chances of being consider for positions you apply to directly through LinkedIn, and elsewhere.
Illustration by tychay on Flickr
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