LinkedIn may be going through something of an identity crisis – all you need to do is check out the feed to see it has recently wandered all too close to tabloid, Twitter and Facebook territory. As a result, many long-time users have expressed dismay because LinkedIn has always been, and still is, a professional networking site.
And despite all the crap currently in the feed, recruiters and professionals still rely on the platform daily as a professional network. If you’re establishing your personal brand, you’re on LinkedIn. If you are looking for a job, you’re on LinkedIn. If you are looking to hire an employee, you’re on LinkedIn. So, despite all of its problems, you can’t afford to not be represented professionally on LinkedIn if you are a serious professional.
If you’re interested in professional development or professional networking, there is still no replacement for LinkedIn.
So how do you cut through all that stuff and use LinkedIn to build your career? Here are some pointers…
Add a Professional Profile Picture
Think of your profile photo as your pre-interview first impression. You should look professional and like someone recruiters want to talk to.
- You cannot leave the LinkedIn silhouette picture up – that’s out of the question and smacks of laziness.
- No selfies or cropped pics where you think you look really good but your friend’s shoulder shows on the side.
- You should invest in a professional headshot. If you can’t afford that budget item yet, have a friend with a good camera and a decent eye for photos get a shot of you in professional attire.
Have an Understandable LinkedIn Presence
The headline or job title you use should capture what you do using language that your industry and market will understand. Those cute new media titles were embarrassing when people first started calling themselves “Chief Awesomeness Officer” etc. They’re even more embarrassing now.
Use the Summary to Sell Yourself
You might not be looking for a job right now, but one you’ll love may be looking for you. Use the summary to provide details on what you do and how you are useful to your company. Use relevant keywords in a conversational, compelling way. Use bullet points to make your summary easy to scan. And, above all, show enthusiasm for your industry and career.
Keep your Recommendations Up-to-Date
If your recommendations are outdated and don’t speak to your abilities in your current role, by all means go out and get new ones. After all, if you’re gunning for a marketing job that recommendation from your summer stint at Subway won’t impress a potential employer. Reach out to current mentors, colleagues and managers and ask them to give you current and compelling recommendations.
List Accomplishments Not Duties
No one cares what you’re supposed to do in your role. They want to see evidence of what you have done. They want to understand your level of contribution. They want to see how your achievements affected the bottom line. Your profile should be a highlight reel of accomplishments that exude confidence. It should make an employer want to know more.
Don’t Leave Anything Out
Employers and recruiters don’t scroll the news feed looking for great people. They use keywords specific to their needs. So every section of LinkedIn must be completed. Because you never know what might trigger interest, you must leverage sections like education, honors and achievements, volunteer work and publications. Leave nothing out.
Maintenance is Essential
You’re never finished with your LinkedIn profile.
As your career morphs, so should your profile. Every part of your professional life that grows and changes should be updated. Again, leave nothing out. Take a new course? Complete a project? Finish a volunteer assignment? Get mentioned in the news? It all goes in there. In this competitive market you need to nurture your career, and your LinkedIn profile.
Despite the shenanigans and the runaway social feed we see currently on LinkedIn, it remains the only professional network worth a damn. Employers and recruiters know this. It remains their go-to resource.
So realize LinkedIn is for grown-ups. Work hard to keep your LinkedIn presence professional. And get found!