Fact: You need a great Linkedin profile. It’s not just another social networking outlet. It’s not “professional Facebook.” It’s the digital face of your job search, and that alone makes it an absolutely necessary component in your job search toolkit.
There are more than 450 million professionals and 2.6 million companies on Linkedin. Over 5 billion professionally-oriented searches were conducted there in 2012. If you’re not maximizing your profile’s effectiveness, you’re missing out on one of the best — and one of the easiest — ways to up your job search game.
Linkedin is undoubtedly the primary method of online networking for professionals. If you want to network (and you definitely do), then you need Linkedin
Why LinkedIn Matters
The first reason is fairly obvious: Linkedin is undoubtedly the primary method of online networking for professionals. If you want to network (and you definitely do), then you need Linkedin. The second reason is that it’s a great way to search for, research, and apply for jobs. The third reason, however, is something people often overlook: Linkedin is, hands down, the best place for recruiters to find you. It’s often their first stop when scouring for talent. Here at The Hired Guns we use it religiously, and we find outstanding talent that way. The caveat here is that if you want to get found, your profile needs to be in All-Star territory.
So if Linkedin persistently nudges you to improve your profile, it’s a good idea to take their advice. They have five levels to measure the strength of your profile: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, Expert, and All-Star. Making your Linkedin profile complete will render you an All-Star and make you vastly more likely to appear near the top of employer searches.
Linkedin also makes frequent tweaks to their profile system and regularly adds features users must complete in order to maintain their All-Star status, so make sure you update your profile early and often. Yes, these are additional hoops to jump through, but the payoff can be massive.
Create or upgrade your Linkedin profile. You’ll find that much of our advice from our resume how-to can be applied to many of the key components here, but not all. Here’s what you’ll need:
This is pretty simple. Use a well-dressed, well-groomed photo of yourself. This may not be your most exciting photo, but remember its purpose. Save the wiffle ball game you Instragrammed for Facebook.
Job search-appropriate contact information
Another easy one. As we suggested in our resume tutorial, use First.Last@gmail.com or something similar. Even if you’re really attached to that AOL account you picked out in college, it’s time to upgrade to something more grown up.
Compelling summary paragraph
The degree of difficulty just increased substantially. Much like the summary statement on your resume see our resume how-to for more tips), this section is your best chance to present your value to a potential employer in a short but engaging paragraph (or two). This is a teaser for the rest of your profile and should, like your resume’s summary statement, make the reader want to find out more.
Detailed Professional Experience
This is the heart of your profile and tells a recruiter or hiring manager about your experience and best work. Just like your resume, you should present challenges, accomplishments, and as many numbers as you can. Make sure each job you list contains:
- Job titles
- Current and past employers
- Dates of employment
- A paragraph of responsibilities for each position
- Bulleted accomplishments for each position
You can flex a little more here than you can on your resume. You should still have your degree(s) and the degree granting institution(s). But on Linkedin, you’ve got some room to add more detailed info, like extra-curriculars, athletics, GMAT/GRE scores, etc.
Like the Areas of Expertise or Skills section of a resume, this is a great place for you to list your relevant skills. Remember to maximize keywords (for example, PR, fundraising, business development, acquisition marketing, JAVA) for search engine effectiveness.
Endorsements are the voice of your peers. They are miniature testimonials about your skills. Any first degree connection can endorse you for specific skills, and Linkedin will automatically rank your skills based on the number of endorsements. Don’t hesitate to reach out to close connections and ask for specific endorsements.
Recommendations are much more like traditional references. They’re small blurbs about your skills and experience. Pick recommenders with whom you’ve worked directly and who can speak intelligently about your work and skills. You can ask any of your first-degree connections for recommendations, but don’t get carried away. A good rule of thumb here is to limit your requests to those whom you would normally consider asking for a traditional professional reference. Know that these people will be asked about you. (We call this “back-channeling.”) Pick people who will do this well and gladly.
Once you’ve nailed down the basics, consider adding an up-to-date portfolio, links to any major projects relevant to your career, and links to professional (not personal) social media.
Is the Premium Account Worth It?
If you’re serious about conducting an active job search, yes. Some of the perks of a premium Job Seeker account include being featured at the top of recruiters’ applicant search results; an Applicant Insights feature so you can see how you compare to other applicants by seniority level, education, skills, and more; a Profile Organizer that lets you save and keep track of important profiles so you can come back to them later; the chance to see everyone who’s viewed your profile in the last 90 days, so you can get a better understanding of the type of companies/professionals your profile is attracting; and Open Profile, an easy way to allow you to send free messages to those outside of your network — like recruiters and hiring managers — and vice versa.
Linkedin stopped being optional years ago. If you’re not on it, you’re missing out on one of the best chances to find jobs and have jobs find you. Not being on it — and not having an All-Star profile — will severely handicap you. Do the work, spend the time, and see results.
We’ll tell you how and when to secure great references so you can close the deal (hint: it’s much earlier than you think).
28 Days to a New Job is a month-long Hired Guns course designed to help you maximize your competitiveness in the current job market. Learn the secrets to getting a job from hiring managers, recruiters, negotiation experts and more. Read our our introductory post here. Or Subscribe Now to receive 28 Days to a New Job as a daily email.