I’ve been told I NEED to have it, so I made a profile. But, honestly, it has never generated any job leads other than ones that are posted by companies. My LinkedIn connections have never yielded the kind of reach or leverage that I keep hearing about.
Or maybe I’m doing it wrong.
Let’s be real: I’m probably doing it wrong. So I’ve been reading up on how to optimize my LinkedIn profile and have made a few tweaks.
Here’s what I found out:
Do I even need a LinkedIn profile? According to MTV, I sure do. And so do you!
Virtually everyone can and should be using this platform to find, create and leverage their social and work networks. For military spouses, this is amazing. Our networks are giant. As they should be given that we find a whole new group of friends every 1 to 3 years, on average.
So whether you are currently in the corporate world, the nonprofit sector, work in a creative or service industry, or are currently staying home, it’s time to join the masses.
This week is the week that you will create a LinkedIn profile (if you don’t already have one) and if you have a LinkedIn profile, you will update it as part of NextGen MilSpouse’s You Got This: 52 Challenges to Make 2016 Your Bitch.
Week 10 Challenge: Work LinkedIn Like a Boss
Challenge Details: Do you have a LinkedIn profile? No. Then you need to set aside 2 hours this week to create one. You already have a LinkedIn profile, but haven’t logged in in the last 7 days. Then it’s time, you clear the virtual cobwebs off your LinkedIn profile. Update your profile and start connecting on LinkedIn.
Your Deadline: March 14
Bonus points if you share your LinkedIn profile pic on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. Don’t forget to post with the hashtag #2016IsMyBitch.
Ready to work LinkedIn like a boss? Here are a few helpful hints to utilize as you create and optimize your profile.
First, sign up already!
Then, customize your URL. I have my name at the end of mine. This makes it easier to share with potential employers than a random string of gobbledegook. Plus, it’s your name, the one that potential employers will immediately Google or search for after your job interview. You want to be easy to find!
Also, add a professional picture. If you’ve poked around my profile, you’ll notice I used a standard school/yearbook photo.
It was free and it’s professional. Plus, it SCREAMS teacher and that’s my career field. Your picture should be professional and show your face.
LinkedIn recommends that you stay away from images that involve: drinking, parties, anything you don’t want your boss to see.
The website also recommends that you use your actual face, not a company logo, and that you use this image across social media platforms (Twitter, Periscope, Google+, etc.).
We have our own LinkedIn profile recommendations. You can read them and see examples of what NOT to do here.
Next, add your work history, volunteer positions and professional accomplishments. You’ll want to include your education, current position, and at least 2 prior positions. This showcases your background and current projects/employment.
You should also include volunteer experience, projects, awards and certifications. These are all background builders that show future employers who you are professionally.
There is a skills section, and it is recommended that you complete it. Add anything that you do that is important to your career or job path. Then, have your network “endorse” you in these areas. This validates your skills and increases your potential value for companies looking to hire you.
Now you have the basics:
- custom URL and appropriate profile image
- current and past jobs plus other professional experiences and endorsements
- all the mad skills you possess
Before you go on, take a quick peek and see if you need to shuffle up the order of your profile. You can highlight your education section by moving it to be above your summary or move a weaker area to the bottom to show off more valuable sections.
It’s time to get networking!
LinkedIn allows you to import your connections from your email accounts, like Gmail and Yahoo. This can be a little tricky.
Gmail doesn’t actually clear (or I can’t figure out how to clear) the cache of ALL the emails you have ever sent. So my list includes people that I communicated with via Craigslist, that I emailed about dental appointments and people that I might prefer not to connect with via LinkedIn.
Resist the urge to invite all or connect all of your contacts. Just resist.
I carefully screened mine before selected a few people to connect with using the contact import service.
You can also connect to your influencer network via Twitter and WeChat. Basically, your updates on LinkedIn become tweets shared to your followers there. I have a professional account, which works well for me right now.
If your account is more personal or contains questionable content, now might be a great time to clean it up or rebrand entirely.
Your account is pretty basic, so jazz it up.
You are provided with a tagline, summary section and the ability to upload work samples. Use them.
Use search engine optimized (SEO) content in your tagline and summary. Basically, these are keywords that are highly relevant in your career or profession. This can help draw people to your profile through browser searches or in-app searches.
If your field is visual/creative and you have work samples to showcase, do it! Upload high quality images, links, PDFs and other materials to increase your marketability.
LinkedIn has in-app job searching capabilities. This means that instead of using Monster.com or other job listing sites, businesses and companies are now posting jobs directly to LinkedIn.
You can create alerts for specific types of jobs or follow companies that interest you. For many of these jobs, your LinkedIn profile acts as your resume and cover letter, which cuts down the time you might have spent tailoring those items to specific jobs.
So, I’ve done all that.
Or most of that.
I still need to jazz up my summary a little bit more with bullet points and build the best tagline I can come up with.
I’m a writer, how hard can that be? Right? (Actually, really hard, just FYI.)
Now comes the hard-ish part: actually using the platform.
This seems to be the one key way to increase your success on LinkedIn. By actually being active and posting updates regularly, your face and name will appear in your newsfeed and in the newsfeed of your connections. This means more face time, more information about your professional achievements or projects being shared and more opportunities to create a connection that will lead to a job.
I plan to bookmark my profile and add it to the social media updating routine that I already do for my blog daily.
I’m still working hard on mine, but I know that my success in 2016 will rely on creating and leveraging all the connections I can make!