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Working with LinkedIn on your Job Search

20 January
by Ed Weirauch
4 minute read

As a career coach, I am often surprised when I’m looking at LinkedIn.  Surprisingly, at times, some people don’t seem to be using this job search and career development site to the fullest extent.  Or maybe some need to pay a little more attention to their site.  So here are some basic and advanced tips for you to consider in establishing or upgrading your site.

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If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, why not?  Not having a profile almost means you don’t exist. For many people, the first thing we do when we hear about someone is check them out on LinkedIn.  Who is he or she?  What does the person do?  Who does he or she know?  So if you don’t have a site, start creating your profile right now.

A very important first step on your profile is your picture… you must have one.  And you really can’t post just any picture.  Ideally it should be taken by a professional photographer and should be a head shot so anyone checking you out will see immediately what you look like.

If you don’t have such a picture, ask a friend who’s good with a camera to take a picture of you.  Position yourself in front of a wall with a neutral color; it doesn’t have to be white but something that will enable you to stand out rather than your environment. Anything in the background will distract from you.  And especially avoid a shot where you look like you’re having a blast.  That’s for Facebook where you’re looking to make friends…  LinkedIn is site where you’re looking to land a new job and/or advance your career.

If you’re a recent college graduate, you may be tempted to post your graduation picture.  If you’re wearing a cap and gown, don’t.  That may convey inexperience which at this point in your career, you need to overcome.  Your profile and resume certainly should indicate that you’re a recent grad, but a graduation picture screams “youth.”

Make sure your picture is a head shot.   And make sure it’s not a selfie, especially one taken in your car.  The problem with posting these kinds of pictures is you have a lost opportunity.  It’s almost like going on an interview in shorts and a T-shirt.  Put your best foot forward.

Now to your profile.  One good way to build your profile is to copy and paste your resume into the box.  This enables you to be consistent in your message which is what you want.   Make sure you have an opening statement describing your strengths.  And if you are actively job searching, its okay to indicate that with a phrase like “seeking an opportunity,” or “ready for a new challenge.”

Now to the Skills and Endorsements section.  Identify at least five of your greatest strengths or skills that you are or would like to be known.   LinkedIn will circulate to your contacts the opportunity for them to endorse you.  And here’s why: when recruiters are searching for candidates and prospects, people with a lot of endorsements in a particular area will pop up first and frequently.  Keep in mind that LinkedIn can be a recruiter’s most often-used tool, that’s how they find you and other candidates so you want to make your profile easy to find.

And how do you get those Connections?  To start, go surfing on LinkedIn.  Look for people you know, send invitations and then watch as LinkedIn recommends others.  Connect only with people you know.  That will begin to build your network and in time, you’ll see all the people you will be connected with indirectly.

Recommendations are very important because they of course offer proof that what you said in your profile is accurate.  First identify a handful of people that know you and your work very well.  Former bosses or managers are ideal.  Even better are recommendations from senior level people, vice-presidents and up.

You can just send a request for a recommendation but it’s a good idea to add your own note.  Assure them that their recommendation doesn’t have to be long, just a few sentence will be fine.

Sometimes the person writing your recommendation may need a little help, especially if he/she is very busy.   Other times you might be asked “what do you want to me write?”  Be specific.  Have that person address particular skills that are mentioned in your profile.  You want to send out consistent messages so look to echo your strengths throughout.

Ideally have two recommendations for each of your job titles.  This reinforces your titles, work experience and potential you offer when you’re actively job hunting.

Finally, look to join Groups including your professional associations and alumni groups from companies for which you worked.  This is a good way to hear about job openings and, being carefully selective, contributing to discussions when you have a strong point.   Unfortunately decorum has gone out the window in most social media settings so be ready for any response.

That was a beginner’s guide to LinkedIn, but even if you are more experienced with the site, see how your profile matches up to each point.  Do you need a better picture?  Could your profile be out-dated?  This is your public face, make sure it reflects your best you.

Check back to Careerminds' blog later to learn how to use LinkedIn to bring your network to life.

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