With more than 238 million users and more than 3 million companies worldwide connected on Linkedin, there should be no question to why you should not be creating your own personal profile on Linkedin. This is an excellent tool for you to build your personal profile and connect with people and businesses to explore career paths and opportunities. In a 2012 survey, over 93% of hiring professionals use Linkedin as a method to find qualified candidates and 37% of all employers screen potential staff on Linkedin when trying to find the right candidate for their job position. Below are some guidelines on how to create and use your Linkedin profile:
Optimizing your Linkedin Profile
Profile Picture: A picture is worth a thousand words, and a nicely head shot of you may mean the difference between someone taking you seriously versus someone ignoring your Linkedin request. Make note of your intended audience when deciding on a picture. If you plan to use Linkedin for job search, consulting offers, or professional networking, it is best to have a nicely cropped picture of yourself. Dress nicely, choose a neutral background, or even get your photograph taken from a studio. Whatever you choose, your picture should reflect what you want to portray to the online community.
Header: Like the picture, the header is the first thing the Linkedin community sees on your profile. The header is the “micro-summary” of your entire profile, so it should be a concise sentence explaining your identity and intent within Linkedin. State your position in your company, expertise, or reason for connecting with others. (ie, sales pitch, looking for employment) Some examples may be “Quality Assurance Professional looking for opportunities in the Pharmaceutical Industry”, “Global Technology and Administration Masters Student at Fairleigh Dickinson University Seeking a position in Office Support or Market Research”, or Aspiring Network Analyst Professional
Summary: Your Linkedin summary is one of the most critical elements of your Linkedin profile. Your summary will go a long way to “selling “you”. This section should be written like a 30 second elevator pitch, meaning it should not be longer than 250-300 words. This section should summarize your skills and expertise, your intentions on Linkedin, and accomplishments and goals.
Work Experience: Be sure to add in as much work experience as you can that pertains to your goal to connecting with others on Linkedin. If you are job seeking, arrange your experience in a targeted manner so that your experience reflects the industry/roles you are applying for. If your goal is for general networking, you may want to add in your experience in a similar manner as a CV. Remember that what you put and how you enter your information represents who you are to the online community.
Show off Your Education: Be sure to add in all of the educational institutions that you have attended. Include your major or concentration and a highlight of your activities and accomplishments. It is appropriate to add in additional professional training that you completed during your formal studies.
Applications and Accessories: Adding applications to your profile helps you to market information you wish to share, or add a little flare and character to your profile. Some popular information sharing applications are Box.net, Slideshare, and Events. If you wish to share files, or perhaps a copy of a certificate or report, choose Box.net to save files for people to download. If you have events to share, choose the events app. You may even share a reading list to show the types of books you like reading. Choose apps that support the information you wish to share online. These apps also can be chosen in a way that showcases your personality.
Recommendations: Ask your 1st level connections to give you a recommendation. The more recommendations the better! Be sure to reciprocate and provide references as well. Think about acquiring recommendations from professors, internship coordinators, fellow alumni, employers, colleagues, or mentors.
Education: Like the Work Experience section, what you put in your education reflects what you want to achieve in your profile. Include targeted information about your training and certification when applying for jobs or add all your education to showcase your knowledge and achievements.
Groups and Associations: Join Linkedin groups of your areas of interest and expertise. Participate in the conversations, ask questions, and contribute. You can learn from these forums gain additional contacts that you otherwise would not get. By participating in discussions, you also develop a reputation within groups that create a passive networking resource, where people may check out your profile and connect with you!
SEO (Search Engine Optimize) your Profile: Utilizing key words that recruiters and employers like to see in a particular job positing in your “Summary” and “Skills” section in your profile can boost the chances of YOU getting found when they search for qualified candidates on the web. The best way to find key words is in the specific job postings that you are interested in. Look for specific skills needs and experience that a particular job is looking for, and then utilize those key words to enhance the suitability of your profile to those jobs.
Come visit Career Services: If you need further advice on how to set up your Linkedin Profile, or are in need a personal Linkedin profile critique, please come by to Room 124 to book an appointment with your Career Services Manager, Jeffrey Lee or email Jeff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Creating and Expanding your Linkedin Network
Completely Fill Out Your Work Profile: Aim for an “All-Star” Profile Strength. Having a thoroughly complete profile that details your Career Objective, Experience, Education, and Accomplishments will definitely catch the attention of employers and Job Hunters. In order to achieve an “All-star” profile status, you will need to have your Industry, Location, and current job position filled out along with your last two previous positions, education, skills, proper photograph, and at least 50 connections.
Start with your friends and fellow students: You will have classmates and friends with similar career ambitions; they may be a good place to start your connections as you may share similar company or organization interests. As each of you grow your connections, these organizations can be shared amongst you.
Invite Co-Workers from Past and Present Companies: Connecting with your previous employers and colleagues on Linkedin is an excellent way to maintain and keep track of your connections as you progress through your career. As your connections progress in their personal careers, they may work at other companies or career roles that might be of interest to you and you will be able to introduce you to opportunities.
Search via Companies: Searching for companies is a great way to network with specific people working in that company. You may use the opportunity to connect with company employees for information interviews as well as with HR staff who can inform you of a job opportunity before it gets posted on a job site.
Search via Linkedin Groups: Leverage the opportunities in Linkedin Groups to find people in your career area. You can research each individual to gain knowledge in what they do professionally to help you prepare for your planning. You can also utilize your expertise in a given field to contribute to discussions as well as ask questions to gain knowledge in a field. Find exclusive job postings that may not be immediately found in traditional job sites.
Network with LiONs (Linkedin Open Networker): Some people on Linkedin are open networkers who will be interested in connecting with anyone. While you may not necessarily want to adopt that same connection philosophy, it may be a good idea to connect with a few “LiONs” in your industry area to access their personal contacts to find people who are similar to your career planning criteria. Remember on any Linkedin account, you can access the direct connections of all of your 1st level connections. These “2nd” level connections will, in turn, become your 1st level connections and you can continuously expand your personal network as you see fit.