By Miriam Salpeter, owner of Keppie Careers - job search and social media strategist, career coach, resume writer, author, and speaker.
As the best-known professional online network, LinkedIn is an important tool for job seekers. Used well, it helps job seekers and anyone who wants to highlight their expertise and expand the number of people who know about them and what they offer.
There is a difference between simply having a LinkedIn profile and creating an online presence that could make a difference in your career. Keep the following tips in mind to make the most of your LinkedIn profile.
Create a 100% Complete Profile
One mistake users make is they don’t ensure LinkedIn recognizes their profile as 100% complete. A complete profile is important because recruiters and hiring managers sourcing candidates on LinkedIn are more likely to find people whose profiles are finished. The more often people find you in search, the more likely you are to be considered for opportunities they may be trying to fill.
• Add a profile photo. LinkedIn reports people with photos in their profiles are seven times more likely to have people click through to learn more about them when they come up in search. This is significant, and could make a difference for job seekers.
• List all the jobs or positions you’ve held, along with descriptions of your roles. Use the space to include as many useful details, skills, and accomplishments as possible. Don’t hesitate to include descriptive titles for your jobs. For example, most people are not searching for “Vice President” when they use LinkedIn, but they may search for “Vice President, Learning and Development.” Be as descriptive as possible in your titles.
• Include 5 or more skills on your profile. Add these in the specially designated skills section. You can include as many as 50 skills.
• Write a summary about yourself. Use this opportunity to tell a story about yourself. It’s okay to be a little creative in this section. Write this in the first person (use I, me, and my).
• Fill out your industry and postal code.
• Add where you went to school.
• Connect with 50 or more people. LinkedIn’s research shows having at least 50 connections helps users get the most of the network.
Optimize your Headline
Once your profile is considered complete, write a great headline. The headline is what appears directly under your name; it’s what people will see (along with your photo) when they find you in search.
What can you include there to inspire someone to want to know more about you? Instead of listing a job title, write something that tells people what you do. For example: “Consult with small companies to advise on retirement policy formulation, design, implementation, and retirement education.” Or, “I’ve helped thousands of people prepare for a financially secure retirement.”
Use LinkedIn’s Applications
The best thing LinkedIn offers is a way to demonstrate expertise while simultaneously growing your network, which will help you land a job. Some exceptionally useful areas of LinkedIn to visit include:
Answers. Find it under the “More” tab. Search through the topics of questions people ask. Ask your own question, or find questions you can answer. When you share your expertise, people are more likely to connect with you, to see you as an expert, and potentially to hire you.
Groups. If you want to meet new people in your field and find out the hot topics in your industry, join an active group. LinkedIn provides analytics about each group you visit so you can decide on the best places to spend your online time. When clicked into a group, scroll down and click on the “Insightful Insights” banner on the bottom, right of your screen. Learn the demographics of the group, how many discussions there have been, and how fast the group is growing.
Add your comments, contribute to conversations, and make sure people outside of your immediate circle know who you are and what you do.
News. LinkedIn makes it easy to keep up with what is going on in your field, which makes it easier for you to update your status and demonstrate your expertise. Check out LinkedIn Today (under the News tab) and choose the news you want to see. Then, use what you learn to update your status on LinkedIn.
Search Status Updates. Did you know your status update in LinkedIn is searchable? And, you can search other people’s status updates? It’s true – navigate to LinkedIn Signal (under news), and use the search function to identify other people online who are writing about your interests. See what groups they join, and put yourself in a position to engage and interact with them. Sometimes, the most active and connected professionals are also the most generous and able to refer you to an opportunity once you get to know them.
Jobs. Obviously, you don’t want to miss LinkedIn’s job board. The best part of searching for positions on LinkedIn is that the job is tied directly to a person, and LinkedIn provides details about how you may be connected to that individual or organization. It even tells you how many people have applied via LinkedIn. Instead of just applying for the job, be in touch with the people who “link you” to the hiring manager who posted the position. Request an introduction, or ask if the contact will recommend you and pass along your resume internally. Many companies prioritize internal referrals above online applications, so you don’t want to waste an opportunity to connect.