Optimizing LinkedIn in Your Job Search – Part I of III

We talk with professionals every day who ask us if they really need to be on LinkedIn, and to what extent? Do they really need to post a picture? How do they grow their contacts, and will that hiring manager be offended if they reach out and ask to connect? We have seen statistics saying nearly 90% of recruiters use LinkedIn to search for candidates, and we wonder about that remaining 10%. Are they still posting Classifieds and waiting for the ink to dry on their ads? If you’re not being seen on LinkedIn, you’re likely not being seen. Follow us through this three-part series on the offensive and defensive tactics surrounding LinkedIn. Establish a good defense through a solid profile, and then go on the offense through contact building, researching and effective engagement of future colleagues.

Get a LI Account

To start your LinkedIn journey, take the plunge and get a right-sized account. LinkedIn offers two tiers of membership, Basic and Premium. Basic is free and works for those who want to build a professional profile and network, give and get recommendations, search and see other member profiles, receive unlimited InMail and up to three search alerts each week.

Premium has four options, Premium Career, Sales Navigator, Recruiter Lite, and Premium Business.  Premium Career is the best option for the committed job seeker. If you’re hesitant and new to LinkedIn altogether, start with the Basic plan to build your profile, and it’s easy to upgrade when and if you decide the time is right.

Build Your Profile

Essential to your job search campaign is an effective LinkedIn profile complete with photo, headline, summary, detailed experience, education, top skills and recommendations. You want your profile to show employers the value you will bring, while also expressing some of your personality.

Build your profile off of a well-written resume, but LI is more fun than a resume because you have more space and can be more personal in your approach. Post a professional yet friendly picture of you, and write a branded headline that tells the market who you are and what you do. This will likely not be your current job title. As with the resume, taper job details so the more recent the job, the more details. Jobs more than 10 years ago require no details on your profile, unless you need them to fully tell your story.

Give and get recommendations, and don’t be afraid to ask recommendation writers to write about specific elements in your career that will promote your value in the jobs you are seeking. A difficult project, a hard-won client, a successful product launch…think about what this former colleague can speak to, and encourage them to focus in that direction. Skills & Expertise will capture those key words and phrases found in all the job descriptions. They will be relevant to your industry and express those areas in which you excel.

Approach your LinkedIn profile as an online networking document or marketing brochure. Feel free to write in first-person, and use “I”, which a resume will never allow you to do. Build the framework by copying, pasting, and adapting from your resume, and then over time you can add, refine and refresh as your past accomplishments come back to mind and your search develops a laser focus.

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