Is this your first time hearing about LinkedIn? Did your high school academic counselor encourage you to create a LinkedIn account for your professional networking and job search because it will be useful for you in the long-term? Or are you just never active on social media? Many did not feel the “need” to use the platform as often until they started to discover their career interests during their undergraduate years in college. Well, if you are unsure about where to begin with your LinkedIn page, I can walk you through some tips on how to step up your profile game!
When setting up your LinkedIn profile, make sure you have a professional head shot with the appropriate attire (dress for the job you want) in place, clear of background distractions. It should be a plain, solid, simple background or even a bokeh background would be fine. Your face should be the main focus. Adding a professional profile photo makes your profile more likely to be found and viewed on LinkedIn, as well as being accepted/receive connection requests from other LinkedIn members.
LinkedIn is a more thorough and extensive version of your resume. In other words, your LinkedIn profile is basically your curriculum vitae (CV). A resume is typically 1-2 pages showcasing a candidate’s competencies: their skill sets (technical skills, and in some cases – soft skills if you are applying for a CNA role), education, notable achievements and work experience; this is basically a first impression kind of thing.
On the other hand, a curriculum vitae is lengthier than a resume. Why do I say LinkedIn is much like a CV? Because the LinkedIn layout allows you to specify yourself and explains your story in your words. You are your own author of your LinkedIn story. Like a CV, LinkedIn is a place where you can include publications, fellowships, licenses, grants, etc. that is relevant to the job or industry that you are looking to go towards.
When you are on the right side of your page, you want to point your cursor to “Add Profile Section” and all of the sections/categories appear where you can begin editing your profile and include your information.
Remember, if you are job searching at a specific location, you want to set your location on LinkedIn – so that way, your profile will appear in more relevant searches.
LinkedIn allows you to display your Headline (your profile is the front page of your story and your headline is the first thing that appears to the audience! Make sure whatever you include in your headline should display great value and passion in one quick line) along with your Current Position, summarize your About (don’t summarize, sell yourself!), including a lengthy description on each of your Work Experience, your Education and Volunteering sections. You want to illustrate your work experience, internships and volunteer work in sentences rather than bullet points because this is not your resume. This is the part where it similarly matches up with the CV template format. In addition, LinkedIn provides you a section to include any Licenses and Certifications that you have earned, in addition to listing out your Skills. For the skills section, the cool part is that your connections may endorse you for the skills that they think you are highly skilled at. LinkedIn also gives you the option to choose your top 3 skills to feature on your page as well as rearranging your skills within a category. This is a great way to display yourself if a recruiter/hiring manager browses that section, so they will know what your top skills and strengths are for the job or sector/industry you are applying for.
After the skills section, you can even have your connections write you Recommendations to showcase potential employers who are viewing your profile to get a grasp of who you are as an individual – beyond just your resume. And of course, LinkedIn allows you to list your Accomplishments such as Languages that you are proficient in (a huge asset to the working world today since many employers are looking for bilingual or even multilingual candidates for certain roles), Honors and Awards that you have received throughout your academic career as well as in your professional career and organizations/clubs that you were a part of.
With that being said, your LinkedIn profile allows you to brand and market yourself. It speaks volumes to all potential employers while your resume only speaks to a single employer. Your LinkedIn profile also allows you to go more into detail with all of the mentioned above. More importantly, this platform allows other professionals not only within your region, but globally. This is a good chance for them to interact with/contact you and also learning about you while you are also learning about them and the company that they are working for. The intriguing part is towards the bottom of your profile, where you can spice it up with endorsements and recommendations from your connections.
When writing your summary on the About section, please keep in mind that this is the part where you interact on your professional brand and storytelling your background (experience and academia) to your advantage. Generally, I would advise that you should introduce yourself in 1-2 sentences; followed by a 2-3 sentences about your passions, work experience and your top skills; and lastly describe/explain in a couple of sentences about your long-term goals and how you want other LinkedIn members to become involved with you.
Another way to communicate your professional brand is if you have published articles or posts, or if you were featured in an article/newsletter, or you wanted to showcase an event that you appeared in as a guest speaker or panelist and you feel proud of the work that you have done, all of this can be included in the Feature section of your page as a form of recognition.
Of course, your summary, experience, education and skills are not enough to tell your story. Include rich media into your employment history to highlight the visuals, by including pictures, presentations, videos or portfolios. Add as much detail as you can, especially to recent roles. Request a recommendation from your existing connections! Or if you have not connected with anyone yet, please start to build your network by discovering existing connections and locating new connections that can be there to help you succeed. Connect with your family members, friends, former/current colleagues, teachers, professors, mentors, classmates, clients, etc. You’ll never know if those connections may be a step closer to what you are seeking for. They may know of someone who they can connect you with to help you achieve your goals. When requesting for recommendations, you want to make sure they are those that can aid you in to shape your credibility and validate your competencies.
Once you have your network in place, don’t stop there. The larger your network, the better. Keep expanding your network and do so in a strategic way. What I mean by this is you want to search for connections who share common interests/things with you; those who work at a company that you are interested in working for; those who are in a role that you want to land yourself into; and those who are able to introduce you to someone to help set you up for success.
A tip to discover/search for existing or new connections that you may know is that overtime, LinkedIn’s feature and algorithms will improve and prioritize which individuals you should connect with on “People you may know in (Region You Reside In)” list.
When you “Connect” with professionals, they give you the option to “Add a note”. It is highly recommended that you include a personalized note to let them know why you are connecting with them. You want to let them know who you are, how you discovered them and how they can assist you.
LinkedIn is not just only for networking. You can use LinkedIn to build a resume, apply for jobs, take free online courses to enhance your digital literacy skills and other technical skills as well as catch up on current events via “LinkedIn News” on the top right hand section of your homepage.
Last but not least, on your job seeking preferences setup, you can change it to make it visible to recruiters and let them know what kind of job opportunities you are looking for. In addition, they also give you the option to filter it by industry or by the position.
Job searching especially during uncertain times like this – coupled with a tough, volatile job market due to the global health crisis and economic recession remains unhopeful to many. However, it is important that job seekers continue to stay motivated during their job hunt and nevertheless be prepared for virtual interviews! Best of luck in your job hunt and utilizing LinkedIn to your advantage. This is one of the many ways in laying the foundation for your future success.