As a Campus Spokesperson for LinkedIn, I am currently in the midst of facilitating a series of training webinars for college career services professionals (sign up here if you haven’t already — they are free!). I recently wrote a blog post for CollegeRecruiter.com advising career services professionals how to improve their LinkedIn profiles. Today I’ve adapted those tips for job seekers and young professionals:
As the largest and most vibrant professional social network, LinkedIn provides a wealth of opportunities for job seekers and ambitious young professionals. But LinkedIn doesn’t work unless you work it.
How can you make the most of LinkedIn? Here are some tips for creating a profile that will impress employers, colleagues, headhunters, professional association members and more:
1. Include keywords in your summary statement. The Summary portion of your profile provides a chance to share the highlights of your bio in your own words. It’s also a place to include key words and phrases that a recruiter or hiring manager might type into a search engine to find a person like you. The best place to find relevant keywords is in the job listings that appeal to you and the LinkedIn profiles of people who currently hold the kinds of positions you want. Check out LinkedIn’s Company Pages feature to search through the profiles of employees at your dream employers. And remember, it is absolutely fine — crucial, in fact — to include unpaid or volunteer work in your Summary. If you are a current student or recent grad, you can include relevant coursework and extra curricular achievements as well.
2. Write for the screen. LinkedIn, or any website for that matter, is not the place for long-form prose. Present your summary statement in short blocks of text with lots of white space. Bullet points are great, too.
3. List all experience. One of the most valuable aspects of LinkedIn is the way it connects you with former colleagues and classmates—which, as we all know, are some of our best networking contacts. It would be a shame if a long lost former colleague or classmate, who happens to be a recruiter now, couldn’t find you because you hadn’t listed that shared employment in your LinkedIn profile.
4. Collect diverse recommendations. Nothing builds credibility like third party endorsements. The most impressive LinkedIn profiles have at least one recommendation associated with each job a person has held. Think about soliciting recommendations from professors, internship coordinators and colleagues, employers, classmates with whom you shared an extra curricular activity and professional mentors.
5. Share your news frequently. The best way to stay on other people’s radar screens is to update your status on LinkedIn (the box near the top of your profile) at least once a week. Tell people about events you are attending, major projects you’ve completed, professional books you are reading, successes you are celebrating or any other news that you would tell someone at a networking reception or on a quick catch-up phone call.