Is LinkedIn a joke? Wondering why your LinkedIn profile is not helping you find jobs, friends and fun? Upset that the site might be just a waste of time?
Don't go there. LinkedIn is one of the most powerful ways to find a job today, but if you're not playing the game a certain way you're not going to win.
Using LinkedIn, I've been fortunate in that I've been approached by several recruiters for job opportunities, propositioned by entrepreneurs for social media advice, and generally had a great time meeting people around the world. My blog traffic has also gone through the roof.
None of this would have been possible without optimizing my LinkedIn presence.
Most questions I get about LinkedIn are how to use profile pages, so today I'm going to give some tips to help your pages start making some serious noise. Buckle up!
1. Optimize your profile caption
You will notice that throughout the site, there is a caption about what you do next to your name. This caption is extremely important, as it's one of the most important ways recruiters find potential employees. Lets help them find you!
What I want you to do is go to the "More" tab at the top of the LinkedIn home page and click on "Skills & Expertise". You will see a screen where you can enter skills. Put in the kind of skills that you have, and also try entering skills for the kind of job you are looking for. You will get a description. Use parts of the description in your profile caption, as well as in your summary. Think of it almost like an objective statement:
You should see an increase in people who view your profile if you have optimized your caption properly.
Under the summary section of your profile there is a section called “Specialties”. Fill it with skills that you found in the "Skills & Expertise" section mentioned above. Of course you should only mention skills that you actually have. This will help you be found by the LinkedIn search engine.
You also have a "Skills & Expertise" section on your profile. You should try to populate it with as many skills you have as possible. This also will help you be found by the search engine.
2. Make your profile more about your career arc and less about your employers
What we want to do is market you and your skills, not your company. In your LinkedIn profile, keep company descriptions but explain how you fit in and made the company a better place. What are your accomplishments, what are you proud of? For example, if you came in as an intern and were hired, that is a big deal!
3. Use numbers to highlight your career
If you can say you managed X number of people or generated X revenue for your company, I would move this kind of quantifiable info to the top of all job descriptions. Numbers help give recruiters and HR people a better sense of your career arc.
Pick no more than five and no less than three bullets to describe each of the jobs you've had. It's ok to not list everything, that's what the interviews are for. Of course, if you have amazing experience, feel free to use more bullets, but be careful to not go overboard!
5. Go back to school
Go find the summaries of the different programs you've studied at. Insert them on your profile page. You might think that everyone knows what you studied, but the fact is that they don’t. Schools and universities are different; they do not all have the same focus.
As always, if you can use keywords from the "Skills & Expertise" section, do so.
6. Get as many recommendations on your LinkedIn page as possible
Recommendations really help open doors, and there is no such thing as too many. If you feel shy about this (I've heard this from many people!), tell trusted classmates you've studied with that you need the recommendations for professional purposes and that you'd be honored if they would write something. You just make clear that in exchange you would do the same for them in turn. If they accept, great. If they say it’s ok, do it anyway. Recommendations are very valuable.
Your references might ask you what to say. If they do, give them some things from the Skills & Expertise section to talk about.
Here is how to ask for recommendations. Go to the recommendations link on the upper right side of your profile page:
You will see a new screen. Select the position that you want to be recommended for, choose the people you want to recommend you, and then write a personalized message that recalls your relationship and how the recommendation will help you. Here is a made up example:
7. Choose a profile photo
Some people decide not to use a photo with their LinkedIn profile. This is usually ill advised. It’s important to put a face to your talents. Use a photo that would help you fit in whatever setting you want to work in. If you are in a very corporate environment, then your clothing should reflect that. On the other hand, if the work place has a more relaxed dress code, than feel free to look the part.
8. Tell a story with your profile
Not sure if it's acceptable in the companies you are targeting to tell a story with your summary, but all facts that help people remember you as an individual are very valuable. Stories accomplish this best. For example, an interest in sports shows that you are not just a behind-the-desk person, but a disciplined, dedicated individual who loves healthy competition. If you tell a personal story, write the summary in the third person so as to not sound vain. On the other hand, if telling a story is not acceptable, just stick to the facts about your career, but then speak in the first person so that you sound like a person, not a robot.
9. Use status updates that could be useful to others
By all mean, update your status with links and ideas that highlight your interests, but try to use information that is useful to others. If you have blog posts, mention them. If you see articles you like related to your career path, mention them. Try to make your profile page a hub for interesting ideas and original content. Your contacts will thank you for it and be more likely to spread the word, netting your profile page more views. When this happens, you will likely begin getting invitations to connect on LinkedIn.