Your online job search - how to get the most out of LinkedIn
Like most job seekers, HR professionals are heavy users of social media — 87 percent of recruiters are looking for candidates on LinkedIn. Because the platform is a cornerstone of today's job hunt, we've compiled a guide on how to best use LinkedIn to advance your career.
Why use LinkedIn?
LinkedIn serves as your live résumé for connections and external recruiters, allowing you to virtually market yourself. It's also a great tool for keeping in touch with past colleagues, helping you build and maintain contact with your professional network.
“LinkedIn is the No. 1 networking site for professionals," says Michelle Carper, talent acquisition operations lead at Leidos. “Most employers have a company page and anyone who wants to connect professionally should have a profile."
How to optimize your LinkedIn profile
In addition to being a useful social network for connecting with colleagues and getting introductions to people at companies you're interested in, LinkedIn is also a search engine. Remember, recruiters are constantly searching for and contacting people based on their profiles. You want to show up as often as you can to further your career and receive the best, most relevant opportunities. Here's how:
- Include a high-resolution, professional headshot. Your profile will be 14 times more likely to be viewed.
- Add skills and get endorsements. Be sure to add skills to the Skills & Endorsements section, so people can begin endorsing you. This section serves two purposes:
- A convenient and searchable list of keywords - people who list skills on their profiles get 13 times more profile views than those who do not
- An area where users can demonstrate their expertise through third-party endorsements of their skill set
- Move the skills module up. As mentioned, this section serves as a list of keywords. When recruiters are searching for specific skills that match yours, you want to be found. Moving the skills module up allows LinkedIn's search algorithm to pick up on these words more quickly, which could move your profile up in search results.
- List skills in your summary. The summary at the top of your profile offers an opportunity to provide information—in a professional manner—about who you are and what makes you tick, how you approach work and why you love what you do. This is another great place to mention your top skills as LinkedIn's search engine will grab words from your summary to match search terms.
- Incorporate key skills into your headline. Your headline should describe you as a professional, not just your job title. One of the reasons is that a descriptive headline can help you appear near the top of search results for specific keywords. Say yes to “Ruby on Rails Developer," for instance, and no to “Developer II."
- Mention special honors, awards, and certifications.
Of course, once people land on your profile, you want to capture their attention and showcase your expertise. Here are a few more tips to help increase your appeal:
- Ask for recommendations. Nothing adds credibility like a good recommendation. When you've done great work for or with someone, ask them to write a short recommendation to feature on your profile. Offer to write one for them, too.
- Add rich media. If your work includes projects that can be shared on your profile (e.g. websites, published stories, videos, PDFs, etc.), add them! You can do so in your Summary section, or attach them to specific jobs you've held.
- Customize your LinkedIn URL. This is a simple thing that many people don't take the time to do. Once done you can include it in your email signature and on business cards, making it easier for people to connect with you.
- Don't forget to end tenure with a past company. "You'd be surprised by how often people neglect this detail," says Carper. "And when they do, it looks like they have several jobs at once. Make sure your profile is reflective of your true career timeline, including your current role and company."
Use LinkedIn for networking
Beyond creating and cultivating a stellar profile, you can use LinkedIn as a tool for networking to reach and meet more people and to further build your reputation. Use the following tips:
- Join groups that demonstrate your interests and expertise. LinkedIn members can join up to 50 groups. The best part? Once in a group, you can message and view full profiles of all members who are also in the group, whether you have a first-degree connection or not.
- Engage in groups, especially if you're looking to build your network. Ask and answer questions or share relevant news.
- Make use of LinkedIn's mention feature. If you share an interesting story from a trade publication that you know would benefit a few people in your network, considering mentioning them by adding an @ symbol in front of their name to draw their attention and begin a conversation.
- Publish posts. All LinkedIn members can publish content on the platform. If you have specific expertise, consider writing short how-to articles or fresh takes on industry trends. These posts boost your credibility and allow you to fully showcase your knowledge.
- Follow companies you'd like to work for. "And make sure you're not just following the company, but that you go to the careers tab and follow that as well," explains Carper. Not only will you be up-to-date on their company news, but you'll be one of the first to know when there is an opening.
- Download LinkedIn's Jobs application on your smartphone. It allows you to personalize your job search and sends you relevant notifications on openings.
LinkedIn is a key platform in your job search. By implementing these tips, you'll not only have an all-star profile, but you'll also meet and interact with more people who can help move your career forward.
"Recruiters are looking for candidates everywhere," says Carper, "but LinkedIn is often the first impression."