LinkedIn has hit a milestone with 200M+ registered users as of January 2013. Nevertheless, many people have only a vague idea as to how to use this unique tool for their career development or job search. “Do I need a LinkedIn profile?” and “Why can’t I just copy my resume into my LinkedIn profile?” are among the most popular questions that our clients ask. This post will answer these and many other LinkedIn-related inquiries and help you make your profile work for you.
Resume vs. LinkedIn – are they different?
In a word – yes. Although they both represent your professional persona, mentioning your experience, education and skills, they do it in fundamentally different ways. Think of a resume as an outbound marketing message advertising yourself. As such, it should be targeted to your desired position, concise, to the point, and emphasize your “features and benefits” as an employee.
LinkedIn on the other hand is akin to inbound marketing. It’s less formal, more flexible and offers you the freedom to let your personality shine. And while you might want to leave information about your college jobs, volunteer experiences and interests out of your resume (unless, of course, it’s relevant to the position you’re applying for), you can, and should, list it on your LinkedIn profile.
In short, your resume and LinkedIn profile complement each other. A powerful resume gets you noticed, while an effective LinkedIn profile offers recruiters an opportunity to know you better and ensure you’d be a good fit for their client/company.
So you’ve become a LinkedIn member – now what?
With all the functions and options that the network offers, how do you decide which ones to use? My advice is – take advantage of any and all that apply to your professional profile but do it wisely. “Content is King, readability is Queen” should become your mantra.
1. The header is your slogan.
The default option is much too generic and will not make you stand out in the search results; make your header eye-catching and persuasive. Try to avoid clichés like “team-player” or “goal-oriented”. “Currently unemployed” or “devoted father” are also a bad idea. These sorts of phrases take up valuable space (the header is only 200 characters long) and are hardly the search terms a recruiter will use to find you. Instead, include field-related keywords and concentrate on articulating what you’re good at. That will make HR Managers want to know more about you.
2. Leaving the summary blank is not an option.
Don’t waste a precious chance to tell recruiters who you are, what you have achieved and where you’re headed. Use the summary to demonstrate how you are different from the other professionals in your field. Emphasize what you can do for your employer, show your value added. Use the SOAR method (situation, opportunity, action and results) to tell engaging stories of your accomplishments. Make sure you mention numbers – quantifiable achievements are far more impressive that those not backed by data. Finally, remember to follow the mantra; keep the paragraphs short and use headers and bullets to make your summary easily readable.
3. Complete your profile.
The more sections you fill out, the higher you’ll rank in the search results. So take the time to write about your job experiences, educational background, certifications, awards, interests, activities, and anything else that applies. Do try to slip in as many keywords as possible, but steer clear of turning your profile into gobbledygook by overdoing it. Keep job descriptions concise and focus on your achievements. And again, figures and numbers help tremendously.
4. Make it easy to contact you.
Even if a potential employer is interested in you, you won’t get anywhere unless they have some way of contacting you. If you’re keeping your job search under the radar, simply invite new LinkedIn connections in the summary section. If you’re openly seeking a new position consider including your e-mail address and phone number. Also, don’t forgo the opportunity to claim your vanity URL to strengthen your professional brand.
It’s all about making connections!
LinkedIn is a social network, so if you’re aiming to make the most of your experience on the site simply filling out a profile won’t cut it. Communicate, grow your network, mingle to get noticed and strengthen your reputation. Luckily LinkedIn provides numerous options that help making connections easy even for those who usually despise or shy away from networking. What you can do is:
- Follow target companies to stay on top of your game and make connections with insiders.
- Join and be active on professional and alumni groups – ask for advice and share your own expertise by answering questions.
- Get recommendations and endorsements. Don’t forget to reciprocate though!
- Publish updates to show you’re keeping abreast of the industry news.
Do you have a LinkedIn profile? Do you feel that it’s effective? What networking tips and tricks do you use? Share your experiences with us in our comment section!