Years ago, you were busy liking, posting, poking and friending just about everyone you’ve ever met on Facebook (even that person you met in line for ten minutes at a concert that one time).
But now, you’ve evolved into the professional that you are today, and that means your online activity and social networks must evolve, too. LinkedIn is the best platform to market yourself and connect with professionals from all different industries. If you aren’t on it or if your profile is subpar, you’re already well behind.
How to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile for Your Job Search
But LinkedIn doesn’t stop at networking. As its popularity has grown, more people are turning to the site to search for jobs and search for job candidates. Trust us, we know—our recruiters scour LinkedIn for candidates that could be a fit for all kinds of positions in dozens of different industries. So, as long as this trend continues (and it will), it is important that users seeking employment (and even those who aren’t) keep their profile in tip-top shape for recruiters and potential employers.
To maximize all the value LinkedIn has to offer, try strengthening your profile in these five ways:
Get a professional headshot
You only get one chance to make a first impression. And on LinkedIn, as with any other social media site, the first thing users look at on a profile is a person’s photo. Be mindful of what your photo looks like. If the quality is poor or there are multiple people in the photo with you, it could indicate you aren’t all that serious about getting hired in the first place.
Nowadays getting professional headshots taken is fairly inexpensive and can make a huge difference in how you’re perceived online. Even putting on a blazer and having your friend take a shot of you with their iPhone in front of a nice backdrop can be a big upgrade. Just please … no selfies!
Use the summary statement to break out from the sea of sameness
Recruiters check out hundreds of LinkedIn profiles, and there’s only so many “eager and enthusiastic young professionals” they can reach out to. Use the summary statement to really let your personality shine, and get creative. Consider including a personal anecdote that speaks to your motivation or skill set, and then transition into what specific assets you can bring to the position you’re looking for.
Try using punchy language that a potential employer might not hear every day. Are you constantly scanning the news and keeping up with what’s going on in your prospective industry? Consider yourself a “newshound.” Do you like blogging or sharing information with others? You’re not a writer, you’re a “storyteller.”
Only include relevant experience
It’s great to hear that you’ve been working hard since you were 16, but flipping burgers at the local Wendy’s is not something that exactly jumps off the page. Include only the relevant experience you’ve had in the past on your profile. Mention the internships you’ve had during your years in school, and some of the organizations you were part of could certainly be noteworthy (or a conversation starter at the very least).
Worried you don’t have enough experience to showcase? No problem. Utilize some of the new profile features on LinkedIn. You can now share real examples of your work by uploading documents, photos, videos, links and presentations directly to your profile. Visuals are always a plus and can quickly capture a recruiter, so make sure you include a diverse mix of the types of content you’ve created.
Join groups and follow companies
If you’re looking for a job in a specific industry, one of the best things you can do is get involved in the LinkedIn community. It’s just like back in college when you went to Activities Night and all of those different organizations were enticing you into their booth with swag. (Except there’s a little less swag this time.) Join LinkedIn professional groups that coincide with your professional interests and there, you will find other companies to follow and meet people who could help you along in your career.
The groups you are a member of and the companies you follow also appear on your profile, so this will show potential employers that you’re engaged in the industry and know what you’re looking for.
It’s easy to make a LinkedIn profile and, as long as you’re still job searching, leave it as is. But you need to avoid stagnation by staying active and maintaining a presence in people’s feeds. Search for and create content to share on your profile that’s relevant to the job you’re searching for or the industry you’re in. Reach out to potential employers with interesting articles that you’ve found and include the insight that you found most helpful. Whether people are reading all of the content you’re producing or not, you’re building a back-log of information that’s attractive to employers and may even be a nugget of information to mention in your next interview.
Marketing yourself when searching for a job can sometimes be a tough balance of standing out, fitting in, sounding intelligent but also quirky, and ultimately showing employers that you’re the one they want. It can be an intimidating process, but LinkedIn is there to help. So put yourself out there, have conversations and don’t be afraid show yourself off.