Building an effective profile on the professional networking website LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) has become as crucial as crafting a good resume. You can use LinkedIn not only to help with job-hunting, but also to build and manage your career.
LinkedIn multiplies your existing personal and professional networks many times over by making the connections of your connections available to you.
Over the past few years, employers have been turning increasingly to LinkedIn. They have two good reasons: It enables them to tap a much wider candidate pool, and it’s inexpensive, replacing pricey headhunters as a recruitment tool for all but the most senior positions. Many LinkedIn users post job opportunities at their organizations to their own networks first.
So LinkedIn can provide a great leg up — but you have to devote some time and effort to it when you join. Below are some additional tips.
A Great LinkedIn Profile
Don’t reiterate your resume. What you should provide is not your entire work history, but a focused profile. Tell your viewers what you’ve done professionally and what you hope to do. Create a very simple summary of your accomplishments and the kinds of things that you can do for an employer. Keep your language crisp, succinct and professional, and avoid the verbal slang you might use among friends or close colleagues, as it could be misread by prospective employers.
Write a Thoughtful Headline. Your headline is one of the first things that viewers of your profile see, so it’s a great place to market your brand and describe yourself in an impactful way. You’ve got 120 characters here, use them!
LinkedIn Headline Examples:
• Experienced Sales Professional Looking to Produce Revenue in the Industrial Products Industry
• Public Relations Manager Raising Consumer Visibility and Brand Awareness Through Creative Digital Programs
• Director of Communications | Branding | Online Marketing | Social Media
• Customer Service Professional — Resolves Customer Issues with Finesse and a Smile
• Benefits Administration — An Eye for Detail — A Sense of Urgency — Strong Client Focus
• Nonprofit Fund-raising and Program Management — Passionate About Making a Difference in the World
• Administrative Assistant — Calendar Management | Project Oversight | Frontline Service
• Construction Supervisor — Renovation, Construction Safety & Process Scheduling
Populate Your “Skills & Endorsements.” This section is strictly about keywords. You can use up to 50 words and phrases here describing what you know and what you can do, and LinkedIn has a feature that allows people to endorse you based upon your keywords.
Get recommendations. Many job-search experts advise that you ask people for recommendations whether you’re working, self-employed or looking for a job. As with the content of your profile, make sure that your recommendations are professionally relevant. Be specific when you request a recommendation, so that your chosen reference provides the most substantive and targeted information about you. Ideally, your recommendations will reflect the focus of the rest of your profile. If you want to highlight your fantastic public speaking or your innovative problem-solving, select references who best know you for that skill and ask them to focus on it in their recommendations. The good news about the recommendations process on LinkedIn is that you are able to approve someone’s recommendation before you post it. If you see something that you’d like to omit or rephrase, carefully approach the writer and discuss proposed changes. Job-search experts warn that recruiters often discount candidates who have no recommendations. But don’t go overboard: Five to eight substantive recommendations from former bosses, direct reports or colleagues will do the trick.
Join groups. LinkedIn offers groups based on interest and association — professional societies, alumni organizations and groups of colleagues past and present. You can even set up your own new networking group. Be selective about one to five groups that are the most interesting and appealing to you. Don’t join more groups that you can actively participate in – participation is the whole point of LinkedIn.And be sure to introduce yourself when you join a group.
Put up a picture. LinkedIn reports that members with profile photos receive 14 times more profile views than those without. Don’t worry about having the perfect head shot, but do humanize yourself with a picture.
Connecting on LinkedIn
Getting the word out that you are looking for work is more than half the battle. Even if you are employed, you can still update your profile without advertising that you are seeking a new job.
Remember: It is a reciprocal process. Networking is a give-and-take. Don't shortchange yourself — you have connections and advice of value to offer to your growing network too.
Know what you are asking. It is important to realize that most people are willing to help if you are able to articulate exactly what you need from them, so don’t be vague. LinkedIn is a professional network so use it for more than getting introductions to hiring managers, ask your connections well-thought out questions about developments in your field of interest.
Be strategic about your connections. Experts warn not to invite someone to connect with you if you don’t know them at all. The goal is to have people help you and to help them in return, and you're less likely to get that reciprocity from strangers. If someone asks to connect with you that you don’t feel comfortable accepting, then don’t. Remember that your associations reflect on you. Avoid using the default message when reaching out to connect with someone. It takes two minutes to customize your invitation.
Getting the Most out of LinkedIn
Devote some time to your profile. Set a goal, such as 15 minutes a day. If you are active on the site, you will look more attractive to a potential employer. Post updates regularly and engage in pertinent online conversations. Updates will show that you are involved in your profession — and will keep your name uppermost in the mind those in your network.
LinkedIn’s Helpful Hints
Take advantage of the advice provided by the site itself. LinkedIn will suggest people you might know and groups that you might be interesting in joining. It also recommends jobs of interest posted on the network. Take advantage of its interactive guide to profile building, which reviews your profile and helps you strengthen weak areas. And be sure to check out the LinkedIn Learning Webinars, for tips on LinkedIn features and functionalities, as well as the LinkedIn Blog, for updates on the job market and online networking.
As you attend events, meet people or connect with new contacts via email and social media, plug their names and details of the contact into our networking tracker, which can be downloaded from our Charts & Checklists page. Then use it to keep track of people you need to follow up with; that way, their information is stored in one place and easily accessible. Every few months, skim through this list and drop a note to those people you haven’t been in touch with in a while. Besides being a good way to build relationships, the majority of jobs are found through connections like these.
Your Online Presence Is Your Brand
A final word about your general online presence and your cancer
Guard your medical privacy: Everyone knows the tales of indiscreet photos that ruined a promising career. However, not everyone thinks about how what you might share on your Facebook or Twitter accounts about cancer could influence your job hunt. Prospective employers will Google you and you may not want them to know that you are in treatment or a cancer survivor.. Remember, The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulates how much your employer can talk about confidential health issues. And the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulates confidentiality by your health care providers.
Sites designed for support that have a high level of privacy like mylifeline.org and caringbridge.org can be a good option for a safe space to talk about your diagnosis with only those people you select.
Before you post on any site:
Before you post information, opinions or photos, especially to a social site, ask yourself:
- Would I want a boss — current or future — or coworkers to know this?
- Would I want this on the front page of a newspaper (or the home page of my favorite news site)?
- Would I want my grandmother or mother to see this?
Monitor Yourself: Pay attention to privacy settings on social media such as Facebook, which allow you to control who sees what. You might want to set up a new, separate social media page, meant just for your inner circle. On that, you could put a caveat not to re-post anything about your health elsewhere. Once it is on the web, it doesn’t go away so most importantly you need to be mindful of the decision you are making and that fact that it has a both
short-term and long-term effect.
Click here for more on protecting your online brand.
Cancer and Careers Resources
For additional assistance or to ask a question of one of our job-search experts, consult the resources in our Looking for Work section.