LinkedIn Primer/Refresher

With it being graduation time across the board, I have received a lot of questions about “how do I put together a LinkedIn profile? What should be on it?”

Your LinkedIn profile is a public snapshot of you as a professional. It is more than a bio, less than a resume. First impressions are absolutely vital. There is also a feature experienced professionals can turn on that disallows anyone from your current company to see that you have enabled the ‘looking for a job’ function.

Your photo should be a head shot only (if you choose to use one). Not a full body shot, not a picture with your cat, dog, SO, or friends. You don’t need to pay for a professional photo, but it should be a decent photo, without a distracting background. It can be color or B & W, it just needs to be relatively clear. *Bonus: if you are an avid photographer or have a great Instagram account, choose a photo that represents you as a person for your banner photo. It is a way to interject some personality, but make sure it isn’t something that is going to cross any lines that are legally off-topics like your ethnic/marital/religious status. Stick to inanimate objects, panoramas, and only use original photos, don’t plagiarize.

You should use your *full* legal name (first/surname), if you have a nickname put it in parentheses. Jonathan (John) Doe, Elizabeth (Beth) Rogers. If recruiters are trying to search for you, they will use your whole name. If you have a common name, use your middle initial. ‘Joseph (Joe) K. Brown’. If you come from a culture that used matronymic/patronymic names, use the name that you have on your driver’s license/ID.

‘ The biggest question I get for LinkedIn profiles in the top section is title. What should I call myself? Simply, *use the title of the job you are aspiring for* IF you are qualified. Don’t use ‘currently seeking new opportunities’. If you are looking to be a Marketing Analyst, use that. If you are currently employed, make sure you use your industry standard title, not something that your company has dreamed up. ‘Chief Cat Wrangler’ may be what you are known by in your current company, but ‘Executive Assistant’ is going to be much more useful.

‘ Your ‘About Me’ section is the equivalent of your professional/executive summary. This is where you summarize your skill set.
o It should not include your education (as there is a specific section for that), although ‘recent graduate with an MBA in Finance’ is a good start.
B />o If your industry has certifications, you can mention them here (although there is also a certification/license are below, this is really the snapshot of you and they are relevant.) It should include any specific industry skills/tools you are familiar with and currently use. And ‘industry’ does not mean Office, the internet, or basic computer skills everyone knows. Examples might be accounting software programs like SAP or advanced Excel, or Peachtree; or email marketing tools like Mailchimp; or industry equipment such as a crane or forklift.
o Make sure you are using quantifiable skills and experience here, not buzzwords or ‘fluffy’ resume marketing jargon. ‘Strong communicator with excellent people skills’ is useless. ‘Professional trainer with instructional design background and five years in call center classroom setting’ is descriptive with enough detail to orient your reader.
B >o If you have any sort of an online portfolio, you can put it in this section (if you put it in the ‘contact’ or ‘personal website’ section recruiters may not find it.)

‘ If you are open to relocation, make sure to list the cities you are interested in.

Professional Experience/Employment History: The next section of your profile is arguably the most important to recruiters; this is your employment section. The biggest mistake most people make is not having robust enough entries.
B > I’m going to start with actual employment: make sure you have an overview of what you have done. This should be a basic overview of your ‘roles and responsibilities’, any significant accomplishments or projects. You can use bullet points to help your reader. It does not need to be as detailed as your resume, but should have some level of information that is useful. When you are entering your employer(s), make sure to choose them from the drop-down menu if the option is available.

‘ IF you just graduated from school and don’t have any relevant experience, you can use your school as your employer and say ‘Full time student’, OR if you did anything extracirricular you can say ‘Independent Contractor’ or ‘Freelance’. Highlight specific projects you worked on that reflect the role/s you are trying to achieve. ***INTERNSHIPS/CO-OP/WORK-STUDY EXPERIENCE SHOULD ALWAYS SUPERSEDE YOUR EDUCATION**. (If you have any actual work experience, DO NOT use ‘Full time student’ in the employment section as that will push your most recent internship down to the second slot.)

‘ If you have any relevant hobbies that you have been paid for/given away, use ‘independent contractor’ or ‘Freelance XYZ’ and give examples about the scope of the project(s) you worked on. BR />Your Education section should be your most recent *matriculated* school OR an extended program like a bootcamp.
<r ‘bsically=”” public=”” private=”” hs,=”” secondary=”” education=”” with=”” a=”” degree=”” (aa,=”” ba=”” bs,=”” master’s=”” phd)=”” or=”” true=”” vocational=”” instructional=”” programs.=”” this=”” includes=”” longer=”” term=”” certificate=”” programs,=”” but=”” not=”” singular=”” courses=”” like=”” coursera=”” udemy;=”” those=”” can=”” go=”” under=”” your=”” ‘about=”” me’=”” section=”” unless=”” you=”” have=”” taken=”” full=”” course=”” load=”” ‘nanodegree’.=”” <br=””>’ If you graduate from a bootcamp or other vocational program AND have a prior degree, you should keep your actual degree as well.
Skills section, endorsements

‘ For recruiters this is the goldmine. This is where LinkedIn puts the keywords recruiters use when they are looking for a particular skillset. We generally don’t care how many people click on this section to give you a ‘thumbs up’; we just care that you HAVE these skills listed. This where you want to go to town and throw in the kitchen sink.

‘ Endorsements: this is the freeform area where people write nice things about you. They should be people who *know your work*. Teachers, mentors, former managers/clients/peers. It is only useful if they write DETAILED feedback. ‘Joe is really nice and was always on time’ is useless. ‘Joe was a huge asset during his internship. He managed a social media marketing campaign that increased our online traffic by over 15% in three months’ is gold. You can ASK your direct connections for endorsements (but they do need to BE direct, first degree connections). You can ask them to endorse you, and be specific about what you are looking for. ‘Jessica, I was hoping you could write an endorsement about the social media campaign I worked on during my internship with Acme last year.’

Making Connections

‘ You should be connecting with people you know’the great thing about LinkedIn is that you can literally connect with anyone’your Significant Other, next door neighbor, dogsitter, bartender at your favorite club, manager of your favorite band’don’t be shy. You never know who may be of value to you. As long as you know someone personally, send them an invitation if they are on LinkedIn.
BR/’SN INVITES TO RECRUITERS at companies of interest-but make sure to tell them WHY you are sending them an invite (I archive any invite that does not have a note). Explain that have just graduated with a degree and are looking to pursue a job as a XYZ in Anytown, state/province/country. Rroups section is a great way to grow your network. Alumni groups for schools, hobbies, geographic focus, industry affiliations/professional associations.
olwspecific company pages that are either on your ‘target’ list or leaders in your industry or geography. ‘Share’ and ‘like” updates that are relevant. This puts them into your feed/timeline. Make a comment if sharing about why you like the update.

‘ Share articles or press releases you see of interest in your industry (set up a Google alert or RSS feed)

‘ Make sure to install the mobile LinkedIn app on your phone. In the upper right hand corner, you can also create a QR code of your own profile; save that as a photo and you can share it with anyone at conferences, out in public, etc.

Hopefully this will give you a good overview of creating a solid LinkedIn profile during your job search. Good luck!

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