LinkedIn Optimization Basics
Kudos to you if you’re already using LinkedIn for career management or as component of your integrated job search campaign.
Surveys show that employers are looking for talent on LinkedIn before they go to Facebook, Twitter, job boards, or search engines. And, LinkedIn is now the #1 tool that recruiters use to publish jobs, get referrals, research candidates, and direct-source candidates (according to JobVite Inc., 2010).
Here are six things you can do today to optimize your profile on LinkedIn:
1. Upload a professional headshot: If possible, have a professional photographer take your picture. Make sure the lighting is good and that there are no shadows on your face or behind your head.
2. Use your links wisely: LinkedIn enables you to link to three separate URLs and customize unique labels of your choice for each one. Use these links to your advantage. If you are in an active job search, consider having one of those links go to your online resume with a label that says “View My Online Resume.” Two choices to host your resume online are emurse.com and visualcv.com, and both are free.
You could also link to a professional blog, a Web portfolio, an industry association, or a news article in which you were quoted. Make sure all your links are professional and support your brand (why someone would want to talk to or hire you over other people whose qualifications, experience, and education might be similar to yours).
3. Maximize your character count allowance: The “Summary” section will allow you to include 2,000 characters, including spaces. Use as many of those 2,000 characters as you can to not only demonstrate your brand in a compelling manner but also load that section with multiple occurrences of the relevant keywords that someone might use to find someone with your qualifications.
The “Specialties” section will allow you to include 500 characters. Again, my advice: use them to include relevant keywords that someone might use to find someone with your unique set of skills.
If you’re not sure what keywords are relevant, read through several job descriptions for the specific type of position you’re trying to secure and identify the words that are found in several of them. Pay close attention to the job titles, requirements, and desired certifications. These can all be keywords.
4. Join groups and then participate in discussions: Search for groups on LinkedIn and then join them. Choose groups that are relevant to your desired profession, geographic area, or industry. Although you’re allowed to join 50 groups, I only recommend joining as many groups as you’re comfortable participating in. Otherwise, there will be no value.
I also recommend joining a mixture of small and large groups. There will be more opportunities for meaningful interaction in small groups; however, joining large groups will enable you to make more first-degree connections, so there is still value in them. Why? Because LinkedIn will allow you to contact first-degree connections directly and this can be a critical step in building a strong network of mutually beneficial contacts. Remember, a strong network is always give and get, not just get. Neediness is never seen as an attractive quality.
5. Ask for and give recommendations: Connect or reconnect with past coworkers, employees, and supervisors on LinkedIn, and ask them to recommend your work. One way to do this is to recommend their work. Once they receive your recommendation, LinkedIn will ask them if they’d like to reciprocate and recommend your work.
Important: Recommendations dramatically increase where you come up on LinkedIn’s internal search engine. Each recommendation makes the keywords for the associated job in your profile count twice.
6. Build out your profile 100% and connect with people wisely: Don’t slap your resume on LinkedIn as-is. Make sure you customize what you put on LinkedIn using a sound strategy. When it comes to connections, more isn’t necessarily better. Think about the quality of connections and not just quantity.
What kind of tips can you share with other readers?
We’d love to know what has worked for you.
In support of your Abundant Success,
The Abundant Success Coach
Robyn is a Nationally Certified Professional Resume Writer and Certified Career Management Coach. Since 1991, she’s been writing interview-winning resumes and providing cutting-edge job search and career management advice. She has earned credentials as both a Certified Career Management Coach and a Nationally Certified Resume Writer. With 20+years of proven industry experience and thousands of satisfied clients who have gotten outstanding results from using her professional resume writing and career coaching service.
• Television careers expert for ABC’s Good Morning Texas, airing on WFAA
• Recipient of Career Mastery Award, awarded by Career Management Alliance (formerly Career Masters Institute)
• Official Ambassador, Women for Hire