Recruiters are looking for candidates on Linkedin, so help them find you! A complete and well-constructed Linkedin profile will increase your chances of coming up in search results by recruiters and hiring managers.
Here are some tips on how to make your Linkedin profile more professional, effective, and searchable:
• Create a descriptive Headline that reflects your goals and personal brand. Use keywords here for search-ability, and make sure it includes what your target audience is looking for. The headline and photo are the first things people see in your profile, so use those 120 characters wisely to make your headline count.
• Include a photo to add credibility and give others a deeper sense of connection to your online presence. Your photo doesn’t have to be taken professionally, but it should be a good headshot with a clean background that shows your professional side. Keep in mind that your photo will not only be seen when someone views your profile, but in many other places on Linkedin, such as next to endorsements and recommendations, your posted discussions, comments, and more.
• Edit your public profile URL, which is the web address that points to your Linkedin profile. Linkedin assigns this URL when you create your account, but it contains random characters after your name that you should clean up. While in edit profile mode, click the Edit link next to your Linkedin URL. To the right you will see options for customizing your public profile. Below those options there is a link to “Customize your public profile URL.” Click that link to remove the random characters so it ends with your name. This makes the URL look cleaner and more recognizable when sharing the link on your resume, in your email signature, on your transitioning business cards, etc.
• Use the Summary to highlight your strengths. This section is your 30-second elevator pitch. Describe your accomplishments and what you bring to the table. Use keywords important in your career field that recruiters would likely be searching for. The Specialties part of your summary is a place to list keywords that are your strengths. Include transferable skills you acquired from your military service (e.g. leadership, team work, strong work ethic, decision making in adverse conditions) that transfer across disciplines, especially if you are starting on a new career path. Keep your summary short and sweet, no more than 2-3 paragraphs.
• Include your location in your profile. If you are planning to relocate, you should put your desired location, not where you live now. Often recruiters will filter their candidate search by zip code, and you don’t want your current location to exclude you from their search if it is not where you plan to stay.
• List all of your current and past employers and education. It’s helpful to have your resume handy to help you complete the Experience and Education sections. Include your top keywords in the job titles, and load the work descriptions with keywords that describe your skills and accomplishments. If a past job has nothing to do with your current career field, list it with a short description, using those transferable skills to describe your duties and responsibilities. Listing all your past employers and education will help you find connections and build your network.
• Add words and phrases in the Skills & Expertise section that are relevant to your career field. List the skills that are your strengths, since other users will be endorsing the skills you list here. Check the profiles of colleagues and those in your career field to get ideas on what skills and keywords to use throughout your profile. Also check the Skills & Expertise link under the More tab to search on a specific skill and get more information related to it.
• Add sections to your profile by clicking the list of recommended sections that appear to the right when in edit mode. Select sections that will help round out your profile based on your background. For example, you should add the Organizations section if you are a member of professional organizations, and add the Certifications section if you’ve earned special training, etc. If you’ve performed volunteer work, be sure to add the Volunteering & Causes section to your profile.
• Ask for recommendations from people in your Linkedin network. Click Recommendations under the Profile tab, or hover over the triangle next to Edit Profile and click “Ask to be recommended.” A good rule of thumb is to have 2-3 recommendations from managers, supervisors, colleagues, etc., from each job listed in the employment section of your profile. Also get recommendations from those you’ve done volunteer work for. Be sure to give recommendations to colleagues or classmates that you’ve worked with and respect. Giving and reciprocating recommendations goes a long way toward building relationships.
• Add links in your profile to relevant videos, images, or documents, such as your resume, a presentation you created, or a paper you wrote. You first need to upload the file to a free application, such as Box.com, Google Presentations, or SlideShare.net. This gives the document a URL where it can be accessed. Then, in the profile edit mode of Linkedin, click the icon that looks like a square and plus sign. Add a link to your resume in your summary section (note, if you have multiple resumes, be sure to name them clearly so a recruiter will know which to download).
• Change the order of sections in your profile as appropriate using the up-down arrow icon. Click and drag the arrow icon of the section you want rearranged to move it up or down the list. This allows you to place your most relevant sections at the top of your profile.
• List your interests in the Additional Info section. Listing hobbies, sports, activities, etc. will show a personal side and help others see what you might have in common outside of business. This is a good section to check when doing research before a job interview. Finding a common interest with the interviewer helps to break the ice and may help you stand out.
Share Your Profile
Now that your profile is complete and effective, share it with others, especially recruiters. Add your public profile URL to your resume, email signature, transition business cards, etc. Also save your Linkedin profile as a PDF file to attach to emails or print out and include with your job applications. Hover over the triangle next to Edit and click on Export to PDF in the drop down box.
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About the Author
Karin Durkee is Director of Social Media at Corporate Gray, a company specializing in Military to Civilian Employment Services (www.CorporateGray.com).
Additional resource: Lisa Carroll, Director of Carroll Quality Alliance (www.carrollquality.com).