LinkedIn is a critically important social network for job seekers. If you want to shorten your job search and make new professional connections, it's time to build a robust LinkedIn profile. Here's what you need to pay attention to:
Your LinkedIn profile needs to look professional, which is why you should consider hiring a professional photographer. Never use a selfie. The Balance recommended wearing professional clothing and cropping the photo so that only your head, neck and shoulders are visible. Keep the background simple, too. A blank wall will keep the attention on your face.
LinkedIn allows users to change the background header image on the profile page. Many users choose to stick with the default image, but doing so misses an important self-branding opportunity. Consider using a skyline shot of your home city, an abstract texture that matches your profile photo or a personal logo.
The headline appears directly under your name when another user views your profile. If you don't customize this section, it will appear as your current or most recent job title. Social media expert Ana Hoffman recommended changing your headline to something more thought provoking or descriptive. For example, you can keep your job title in the headline, but add additional interests separated by commas or vertical bars. You have 120 characters to work with.
"The headline, along with your picture, is what appears in searches and gives the potential employer or business partner a glimpse of your experience," explains Lori Croyle, Division Director of Beacon Hill's Associates Division in Pittsburgh. "Using keywords that speak to your experience in this section will make your profile searchable and stand out from others in your industry."
Your profile summary is a great place to showcase your personal brand, let recruiters know about your skills and express yourself as a professional. Though your work experience may show recruiters what you have done in the past, this section will explain what you loved about those previous positions and what excites you about the future. Consider writing a few paragraphs here.
The work experience section of your profile looks the most like a traditional resume. However, when recruiters views your profile, they're probably not ready to read your entire work history - that will come later in the job search. As The Prepary noted, this section of your profile should contain accurate dates and bulleted points about your past accomplishments. This is a good spot to include keywords related to your desired positions.
"I think the best way to build relationships is to show all of your credentials and qualifications," notes Ken Cole, Senior Recruiting Manager for Beacon Hill's Technologies Division in Cleveland. "There is a lot of white noise on LinkedIn, and there is a need to differentiate yourself from that. The staffing business is very crowded on LinkedIn and setting yourself apart through your bona fides is critically important."
The education section of your profile should include the names of the institution you attended, as well as graduation dates and degrees held. Unless you are still in college, it's not necessary to list your high school. Additionally, you'll find areas to list languages you know, honors you received or awards earned. Fill these fields in as best as possible, but don't worry about leaving them blank if they do not apply to your situation.
Skills and endorsements
The skills section of your profile is a streamlined way of highlighting the skills you utilize most at work. Take your time and add as many skills as are relevant to your career. LinkedIn gives your connections the ability to endorse you for these skills, confirming that you are indeed proficient at these tasks. Don't be shy about asking for endorsements, and consider endorsing others, as well.
Just as you gather professional recommendations for your job interviews, LinkedIn lets you display personal recommendations from other professionals in your network. If you're a student or recent graduate, consider asking your professors for a few sentences about your work ethic or accomplishments. If you're currently employed, ask a former co-worker or manager to write a brief note.
If you worked on a major project that you're especially proud of, the accomplishments section is where you can showcase it. Likewise, you can include professional certifications, publications, test scores and even patents you hold.
At the end of your profile, you'll notice a section where you can list your professional interests. Here, LinkedIn displays the groups you belong to, company pages you've liked and influencers you follow. Perform a quick search for groups relevant to your career and request to join them. Then, find a few influencers in your industry, and click the follow button on their profiles.
LinkedIn recently implemented a new feature that allows users to discreetly inform recruiters if they're open to new career opportunities. Here, you should write a short note describing the type of opportunities you're interested in. LinkedIn lets you check boxes indicating if you are open to contract, part-time or full-time work, as well as which geographic areas interest you most. Select as many industries and job titles as may apply to you.
Another new feature is called the career advice hub, which allows users to connect with mentors and other industry leaders. According to LinkedIn, 80 percent of professionals either want to have a mentor or be one to others. The advice hub allows people in similar fields to ask for advice about relevant topics, such as career advancement or new industry developments. This is a great way to learn more about a position or career.
Once you've completed your LinkedIn profile, it will act as a kind of digital resume that showcases your top talents, past experiences and learned skills. But remember, this is a social media platform, not just a static landing page. Use the site's recommended connections feature to link up with other professionals. Don't worry if you don't personally know the people LinkedIn suggests - getting to know new people is what networking is all about! Once you have connections, share industry-related articles with them, and comment on other posts. Stay engaged with your network.
"I encourage people to share information about their professional life, what industry events they are attending, what they thought of those events, etc.," says John Tarbox, Managing Director for Beacon Hill's Legal Division. "The advice I give people is to create content as opposed to sharing content. The most successful posts I have on LinkedIn are usually posts where I give people a glimpse into my day here or what life is like at Beacon Hill as opposed to sharing tired articles about how to go on an interview."
LinkedIn also offers a robust publishing platform, much like a personal blog. Here, you can write articles, add images and share them with the public. This space provides an incredible opportunity to show that you are a thought leader. Find an aspect of your professional life that you are knowledgeable about, and write a helpful article to share that information with others in your network.
LinkedIn isn't the only way to meet recruiters. To jumpstart your job search, visit BeaconHillStaffing.com today.
This content is brought to you by the Marketing Team at Beacon Hill Staffing Group.