It’s no secret that there’s some gray area when it comes to LinkedIn.
Is it social media? Is it a career tool? Is it a place for networking and marketing?
Yes, yes, and yes. It’s all of the above!
While it can be used as a way to stay connected with colleagues and friends, congratulate them on promotions or career accomplishments, and check out articles they’re sharing; LinkedIn’s greatest strength is as a career tool.
Whether you’re already ‘connected,’ or are finally coming around to the fact that you really should be utilizing LinkedIn, here are a few things to know about the platform, and how to use it effectively.
Why LinkedIn could be your career ace-in-the-hole
Did you know that 70% of open positions are never posted publicly? SEVENTY PERCENT. This makes networking non-negotiable when you’re on the hunt for a new career. It’s a bit of an obvious statement, but LinkedIn is literally created for networking, and if you’re taking advantage of the platform simply for making connections with new professionals or recruiters, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity.
It can also serve as a job board, for those other 30% of positions that companies decide to post.
But most importantly, LinkedIn gives you an opportunity to show off your best self to the entire world. With a top-notch profile, you can knock the socks off of recruiters, employers, and that former colleague who was always trying to one-up you.
If you’re not convinced yet that you need a great LinkedIn profile, hear this: If you’re applying for a job, we can promise you, The recruiter or hiring manager is absolutely looking at your social profiles, and LinkedIn is where they’ll start.
Now that we’ve made our point, here are some tips for creating a killer profile.
You might actually have a million-dollar smile
Your photo is your first impression. You MUST have a professional LinkedIn profile photo. For more tips on the importance of photos, check out this post.
We have actually seen job seekers post bathing suit-clad photos on LinkedIn. Just, no.
Create a juicy summary
You know how you always hear that hiring managers are going to spend an average of like 30 seconds skimming your resume? Well, you’ve got even less of their attention on your LinkedIn profile. Aside from your profile photo, and basic info like location and industry, your summary is the most important piece of your profile.
If you’re overwhelmed with how to summarize your experience into a paragraph, we’ve got some tips to help right here.
Don’t just copy and paste your experience from your resume
While your LinkedIn profile is professional, it’s also much more dynamic and personal than your resume.
Rather than listing in bullet point form the duties you performed in each position, think bigger picture with LinkedIn.
You have the opportunity to give the backstory on interesting details that can’t be explained on your resume. Share a bit more about your work, and make it captivating.
Here’s an example:
“Grew sales by 25% by implementing referral program and expanding customer base…”
"I accepted a Sales role with Dropbox after meeting the company’s CEO at the 2015 SaaS Convention. My previous SaaS selling experience allowed me to usher immediate results, such as growing our customer base by…”
You can make it less formal than your resume, as well, but remember to keep it professional.
Add skills to your profile
Yes, you need to do this. Again, think about the person reviewing your profile. You want to make it as easy for them to see how awesome you are, as easily as possible.
You can actually list up to 50 skills, and the closer to that you can get, the better. If that feels daunting, start by setting a goal of 10.
Just remember — be ready to back up any skills you list.
Once you add skills to your profile, your connections can then endorse you for them. Which leads to our final point....
Make at least 50 connections
Ideally you’ll get much higher than that. We’re not saying you have to earn the “500+ Connections” badge of honor, but the more connections you have, the more legit you look, and the more opportunities you have for endorsement from peers, mentors, and even former employers.
That said, don’t go on a rampage and connect with everyone in the state of Arizona, but try finding anyone you can think of from college, previous jobs, friends, and people you’ve met at IRL networking events.
Your LinkedIn profile can be a huge asset in your job search. And whether or not you have a profile, employers are looking for you. Make it easier for them, and show hiring managers the all-star you are with a powerful profile.