Perhaps you ventured onto LinkedIn and forgot about it. Or maybe you're scared of LinkedIn, period. Let us guide you through what you're missing
Of course, launching a LinkedIn profile is only the first step. LinkedIn offers tons more in the way of friendly functionality for your job search. Not sure how to leverage LinkedIn in your job search? Read on.
1. Write a Compelling Profile
Your LinkedIn profile can read just like your résumé, but it doesn't have to. You can stretch the envelope a bit and use a more human voice to showcase your professional passions and drivers. In particular, make sure that your "headline" field (the one just under your name on your LinkedIn profile) lets the world know your purpose. If you're unemployed, by all means use your "headline" to showcase your availability for work, for example:
Startup Veteran/Online Marketing Manager ISO Next Challenge
Sportswriter/Editor with Print and Broadcast Chops Seeking New Opportunity
You get 120 characters in the LinkedIn "headline" field, so use them wisely.
2. Tell Us Your Story
The large LinkedIn Summary field is much like a résumé summary, but longer. There's plenty of room to share your career history with readers in a compelling way. You can tell us your professional story in this space. As you can imagine, stories are easier on the reader than deadly dull résumè-type paragraphs. You might begin your Summary this way, for instance:
"Ever since I began covering business events for my college newspaper, I've been fascinated by business story-telling and its power to shape audience behavior. As a PR manager for B2B and B2C companies for the past 10 years, I've gotten my employers covered by Businessweek and USA Today (GCI) by crafting stories that connect readers with our brands."
There will be other places in your LinkedIn profile (the Specialties field, in particular) to regale us with your certifications and technical qualifications.
Use your Summary to let the person viewing your Profile know exactly what you're about and what you drives you in your career.
3. Mind Your Settings
You can set up your LinkedIn account (using the Settings link at the top right of each LinkedIn page) to keep all but your close friends (known on LinkedIn as "first-degree connections") from viewing your profile, but what's the point of that? If you're job-hunting, it's better to let hiring managers and recruiters find you easily by opening up your profile to public view. That means you need to click on the link that enables your Public Profile on LinkedIn. Other settings will allow you to dictate how LinkedIn communicates with you and about which issues (new invitations, e.g.), whether your contact list should be visible to your connections (I recommend that you let your friends see who your other friends are—that's the point of LinkedIn), and more.
4. Show Us Your Mug
LinkedIn began allowing users to upload a photo to their profiles a couple of years ago, and these days we can't imagine LinkedIn without user photos. A good photo adds life to your profile, and the absence of a photo raises questions (why doesn't this person want us to see what she or he looks like?) and just looks strange. Get a decent digital photo that shows you looking halfway professional (on-the-slopes and other leisure-time shots are fine as long as you look like a person who might function in the business world, vs. someone we couldn't remotely picture in a professional setting). Upload the photo to your profile, and you're all set.
5. Get Connected
Once your LinkedIn profile hits the 70-percent mark, it's time to start adding connections. LinkedIn won't be nearly as useful to you if you're sitting on your own private networking island. The point of LinkedIn is to allow your connections to make introductions for you, and vice versa, so you'll want to start adding first-degree connections ASAP. First, download the address book you use the most (Outlook or Gmail, e.g.) and let LinkedIn's downloading tool tell you which of these folks already use LinkedIn. Don't worry—LinkedIn won't start e-mailing everyone you know. You get to pick which people to invite to your network. When you do, be sure to personalize your LinkedIn connection invitation. "Hi Stan, I hope you and Jane are doing well. Shall we connect on LinkedIn?" is worlds better than "Since you are a person I trust, I'd like to add you to my network." Customization is key,
Once a person accepts your invitation to join his network, or vice versa, the two of you become first-degree connections. It's a two-way link. If you've accepted Jack's connection, you don't need to invite him to join your crew.
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