It has been said, that in today’s online, social, digital world, if you are in a job search and don’t have a LinkedIn profile – you don’t exist. LinkedIn is critical. Many hiring managers and recruiters use only LinkedIn and networking to find potential job candidates. LinkedIn is complex. Here, we will just skim the surface of what you need to know to establish a presence on this critical platform.
Create an Account:
Signing up for LinkedIn is easy and free. Simply go to LinkedIn.com and click on Sign Up. Enter your name and a valid email address (an email verification will be sent to the address you provide) and you’re all set! Alternatively, you can also sign up using your Facebook account.
Step 1: Start with the Basics
Here are the critical areas to complete:
- Profile Photo
- Work History
Having a photo is critical to your success with LinkedIn. Imagine if someone knocked on your door while wearing a paper bag over their head. Would you answer the door? Probably not. That is basically the same as not having a photo on your profile. People want to see that you’re a real human being.
LinkedIn is not Facebook! Your photo doesn’t have to be a professionally taken photo, but it should be professional in nature. Remember, this is the first thing potential employers, clients and colleagues will see and represents the professional face of you. Act accordingly!
The headline is the second thing people see that impacts their immediate impression of you. It also states the critical information - Your key experiences with a flavor of what you want to be. Insert keywords that will help you stand out in the position you are targeting. Overused as the analogy may be, imagine your profile is an iceberg. The headline is just the tip. How will you create enough interest to make them read the rest?
The summary is one of the most important and often underutilized sections. This is your chance to shine and show off your accomplishments and goals, as well as your skills set. It should read like a conversation. Don’t write incomplete sentences or in the third person. This is also your chance to add a hint of your personality. You can be a little creative here, but in a professional way. Again, make sure you use plenty of relevant keywords to help you show up in searches.
Work History & Education:
You do not have to enter the full date under your positions. This is flexible and up to you. Only the year is required. Additionally, dates are not required for education. It is important that you add a description for each position you’ve held. However, this should not be a copy/paste from your resume. Gear it towards the job you want, not the job you had.
Lastly, add any other relevant information that you feel adds to your value and where you want to be professionally. Examples: Volunteer experience, publications, etc.
Step 2: Find Connections
Connections are key! In the beginning, it will be difficult to gain connections. And until you have a solid group of connections, it will be difficult to utilize LinkedIn to its full potential. Start by finding your friends and past colleagues, regardless of the country they are in – people who you know will be happy to add you. This will begin the process of growing your network. But keep in mind as you go – there should be a healthy balance between quality and quantity when it comes to your connections.
Another tip to help grow your network – join relevant groups to your target industry. You can also connect other accounts to your LinkedIn account so you can see, of those contacts, who is on LinkedIn as well that you may wish to connect with.
Step 3: Network
Now is the time to strategize and network. LinkedIn is great for searching and following companies, learning who works there now and who has moved on, finding recruiters, hiring managers and CEOs. The key thing to understand is that your “network” consists of your 1st, 2nd and 3rd connections as well as members in shared groups.
A Final Note:
LinkedIn should be treated differently from your resume. It is not an online copy of your resume. Think of your LinkedIn profile as the face of where you want to be and develop it accordingly. LinkedIn is future facing, your resume is your past.
Again, LinkedIn is a very complex and in-depth tool and here we have only touched on some of the very basics. I highly encourage you to further research and expand on your LinkedIn knowledge. We at The Select Center, also offer a free class on LinkedIn. You can register at http://www.selectcenter.org/classes/
Remember, in today’s competitive job market, you need to do all you can to get in front of the people hiring. LinkedIn has over 450 million users – you need to be one of them.