LinkedIn is an excellent tool to use in your job search. Here are 10 ways to get the most out of your profile:
1) Post a picture: If you don’t have a professional photo, smile and take a quick pic on a bright day against a neutral backdrop. Your photo will help people already in your network to recognize you and help new connections to remember you. Most people aren’t great with names!
2) Fill in the blanks: Make sure to take advantage of all of the categories LinkedIn offers (education, career history, volunteer work, publications) to create a well rounded professional profile. Though some advanced professional resumes, for example curriculum vitaes, may be quite long, a standard resume should be 2 pages or less and customized for each application. Your Linked in profile can be a great place to create an overall outline of your professional experience that you can draw on when customizing resumes and cover letters.
3) Tell others why you are there: Be sure to fill in the tagline (under your name) and Summary (under your photo) sections. If you fill in your tagline, it will display as part of your icon when you come up in a search. You can use a tagline to let people know that you are job searching (“Looking for an opportunity in Software Sales”) or if you have a specific skill set (“Computer engineer with skills in program management”). Expand on this tagline in your summary by detailing highlights of your skills and experience as well as what you are looking for out of LinkedIn. You can add a friendly sign off to complete your profile, inviting others to connect with you.
4) Personalize your URL: Speaking of customization, LinkedIn provides a way to customize your profile URL so that it’s short enough to add to an email signature line or at the top of your resume. Look for the “URL” icon under your profile picture.
5) Connect: There are myriad of ways to connect with colleagues, recruiters and employers on LinkedIn. You can search for people by name, by company, by skill set or by job title. Once you have a few connections established, your homepage/live feed will show who they are connecting with. You may also “get introduced” to someone through a mutual connection – a seamless version of having them send an introductory email on your behalf.
6) Use your privacy settings wisely: You may be setting up a profile at the beginning of your job search, but exercise caution when doing so. With the increasing popularity of LinkedIn and other online networking tools, a flurry of activity on any profile signals to others that you are ready for a change. You can block your profile or your activity from other users through privacy settings found in your account settings.
7) Use it consistently: An easy way to avoid alerting others to your job search is to simply use LinkedIn on a regular basis. Connect with others, edit your profile, join groups or link to interesting articles on a weekly basis. This will also save time in your job search when you hope to capitalize on your online presence. Your connections may be pleased to have you connecting with them on a regular basis as opposed to only when you are looking for a new opportunity. This is also a great way to signal to others that you’re happy to keep in touch or provide them a recommendation or introduction when needed.
8) Join groups: Just like in real life, virtual communities are lively when people share ideas and questions. On LinkedIn, this happens in Groups. You can find groups to join much like you find connection to add. Groups provide excellent information on industry trends, events and job opportunities.
9) Contribute: Comment on discussions in groups or on articles in your live feed. Endorse the skills of others (you’ll see this feature when you click on a profile) and, with permission, provide recommendations to those you have worked with.
10) Keep it professional: LinkedIn should be treated as a professional networking tool: exercise caution when posting personal information, like your contact information and work history. But you won’t have to worry about declining an event invitation!