LinkedIn has become a necessary, if not required, tool for job seekers who want to maximize their visibility and options in this current employment market. However, many professionals do not use LinkedIn to its full potential, treating it more like Facebook and collecting “friends” rather than making solid connections and networking to find their next employment opportunity. By applying the following techniques and strategies, you can be sure that LinkedIn will be a valuable and effective part of your job searching strategy and you can be confident that the connections you make will be more than just “friends.”
1. Create your profile.
Utilize keyword-rich descriptions throughout your profile and resist the urge to simply copy and paste your entire resume. LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to be a little more personal with the language you use than your resume, so take full advantage of that. Use words that will create excitement and maximize each individual section by using all available characters. Each section of the profile has different limits for how many characters you can use:
By knowing the constraints of each section of your LinkedIn profile, you can include more keyword-rich language which will increase the search engine optimization (SEO) of this job search tool. However, always keep in mind that presentation is important, so don’t simply list a bunch of buzz words without context or further detail.
2. Customize your headline and your URL.
Unless you edit it, your headline on LinkedIn will simply be the present position you have listed in your profile. To boost the impact of your profile overall, customize this important section to give readers (recruiters/potential employers) a better idea of what you are interested in and what you are qualified for rather than just what you are doing at the moment.
Additionally, make sure you modify your URL. When you first sign up for LinkedIn, your URL will be automatically generated and will contain a long string of unsightly letters and numbers (for example: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/john-jones/18/AK6A/A08/). By customizing your URL you can remove these extraneous characters and create a much shorter and more attractive link (e.g. www.linkedin.com/in/john_jones). This way you can add the link to your profile to your resume and cover letter, profiles on job boards, and other job search materials.
3. Make sure your profile is public.
Unless you are currently employed and concerned that your employer may discover that you are searching for other opportunities, be certain that your profile is listed as public. If you do not have a public profile, then all of the work that you have put into incorporating keywords, maximizing information in each individual section, and customizing your headline and URL will all be wasted effort because no one will be able to view your profile.
4. Manage your profile and network to get the most from your connections.
Update your profile regularly and stay involved by joining discussions, creating connections, and joining groups. Establish your online presence to ensure that your LinkedIn profile is working for you. You can also add a picture (make sure it’s professional!) and applications to personalize your profile and display your personality. For instance, you could add your Amazon reading list, your WordPress blog, or your Twitter account to your LinkedIn profile so that your connections can easily follow what you are up to and what you are interested in.
The more complete your LinkedIn profile is, the higher it will be ranked in searches. More than just publicizing your interests and your ambitions however, you also need to investigate your network. Review the profiles of your contacts to uncover possible opportunities, partnerships, and prospects. Always keep in mind the reciprocal nature of social networking and remember that if you support your connections they will be more likely to assist you in the future, so get involved and stay involved, introduce contacts with mutual interests/specialties, join groups, read company profiles, make recommendations, and check in with your network often.
Anyone can set up a LinkedIn profile and amass hundreds of connections in their network, but these connections will only have value if you manage your professional network effectively, optimize the presentation of your profile, and utilize keywords to attract the attention of recruiters and potential employers. Always keep in mind that LinkedIn is not Facebook and will only benefit your job search if you enable it to work for you.