Whether you are already a LinkedIn convert and have a profile created, you are hearing everybody talk about this for some time, or you are new to the whole concept, here’s what you need to know and why you should take care to create your profile.
Where to start?! Well the good news is that you don’t have to set up your profile all at once. You can develop and improve it at any time, but you do want to make a pretty concerted effort to ‘get it together’ in a relatively short span of time because once it is created, people start looking it over. Like a real face-to-face meeting, you want to make a good first impression.
Your profile on LinkedIn is more than just a copy and paste of your resume and your Facebook photo. That alone is a benefit of reading this piece. Facebook photos are habitually known for having an identifying picture of a person be represented by an animal, a flower, two or three people in a picture, or a landscape. Your LinkedIn photo should be a picture of you yourself, and it should reflect how you want potential employers and colleagues to see you. Facebook is social networking, LinkedIn is professional networking.
On your LinkedIn page, you also get as much space as you need to create a summary section first. This is akin to a ‘Profile’ section on your resume but it’s more than that. Here you can summarize what you currently do, who you are, what you uniquely offer, your philosophy in practice; whatever angle you want to take to portray yourself. On a standard resume, you’d be more inclined to shape this section to the job at hand for a specific company, but on LinkedIn, you never know who will view your profile.
One of the key things you could also opt to do is add specific videos, presentations and/or a portfolio of your work that does more than just talk about it on a resume. Here a person could with a click, see your work come alive first-hand. Be sure however that if you are going to share publicly something that you’ve created via the resources of your employer, that you have their permission to do so. You don’t want evidence of your work be the grounds for your dismissal if you are sharing company produced material.
And a resume has numerous bullets on it that speak to your accomplishments and responsibilities. Ho-hum. Pretty static. Here on your profile, not only can you describe what you’ve done and the results you achieved, but should you get others to recommend your work, what happens is that immediately below the section where you say you’ve accomplished things, the voice of others attests in writing to that. This of course validates and strengthens your claims as being able to actually do whatever you say you’ve done. “And if you can do it for another employer, maybe you can bring those same accomplishments to my company” a perspective employer might muse.
And of course when you’re new to resumes and you don’t have help, you can stare at a blank piece of paper for hours wondering what section should come next on your resume and in what order. On a LinkedIn profile, it’s all laid out for you with prompts and suggestions. You can even jig the layout and put things in different orders if you wish. Add organizations you belong to, your contact data, approve and add written recommendations from others, courses you’ve taken, publications you’ve produced, where you went to school, your interests, awards, honours, etc.
You can also list skills that you possess and other LinkedIn connections of yours can endorse you; essentially saying, “Yes, I’m willing to acknowledge that this person has this skill”.
Now in the traditional sense, you submit a resume, and the employer reviews it. (this takes time) Then you get an interview to probe, ask questions and validate your experience. (this takes time). Then the employer contacts your references to see if what you say you can do is actually verifiable and you are who you claim to be. (this takes time).
However, an employer looking for someone to fill a role in their organization can use LinkedIn to search first for qualified candidates using a search engine that filters their requirements down to a short-list. (this saves time). They can review a profile, (this saves time) read others recommendations (this saves time) and approach a few applicants to investigate if they’d be interested in an interview for employment (this saves time). So rather than posting a job and being flooded with applicants and bothered with emails, calls and faxes, (this takes time) they only contact a few and there’s no hassle with people you don’t have an interest in whatsoever.
You can join discussion groups too that are in your field of interest and dialogue with people around the globe and gain insight, learn, mentor others, share trends, etc. And like real networking, the best thing you can do is help others instead of only asking for help and giving nothing in return.
In my family alone, two members were recruited for jobs they now hold without actually applying, and another applied for a position and was informed that her LinkedIn profile was checked out and examined.
Like everything to do with a job search, what you do or don’t do is your call. How’s what you’re currently doing working out?