LinkedIn is the most important social media site today —at least if you want to get a job. Social media pages are now online resumes, helping professionals connect with other members in their fields. Like it or not, you’re now a brand. In order to score that dream job, your profile needs to promote your assets better than your sixth grade Myspace page. Experts in the field gave CM advice on how to truly take advantage of the emerging online platform.
Consider your account an online brochure.
Kimberly Blue, the associate director of Ohio University’s Career and Leadership Development Center, said the key is to strategize through a well-marketed virtual personality. Now that you know your brand status, you have to sell yourself to employers. That starts with using LinkedIn as your web-friendly personal ad, displaying your assets to hiring companies.
“Be thoughtful about it and set your online brochure so that people can quickly browse through it more than a paper document,” Blue said. “Fill out your LinkedIn page fully, thoughtfully… it’s always important for people to read about what you have done, because it’s there, in black and white. Show them who you are.”
Show your interests.
Essentially, you want the hiring forces at large to not only see your page, but also scroll through it and find your interests, maybe even commonality. Professionalism comes first, of course, but employers also like to have similarities to those bright faces they hire.
This can be expressed under the “Interest” tab. While seemingly frivolous, Blue said including personal interests is extremely important. Because who knows? Maybe your future employer is also a French New Wave fan, and that’s what will help get your foot in the door.
Use endorsements with caution.
Endorsements allow peers to glorify your talents in everything from Microsoft Excel to Latin literature. If overdone, they lose any employer appeal. Don’t ignore them per se; just know they lack purpose if your friends add them to each other’s page ad nauseam.“They often turn into likes on Facebook, where you are connected to friends on LinkedIn and they [say] ‘I’m going to go give my friend all these endorsements,’” said Crista Coven, who earned her M.A. from Florida State University with a LinkedIn-related subjects thesis. “Whether or not they know you did those things professionally or not is pointless.”
Be selective with connections.
Remember that LinkedIn is a classy social media establishment. Don’t just add every Tom, Dick and Jane to your page—make sure you’re selective with your connections. “It’s not a place where you should add people if you just meet them at the bars,” Coven said. “It should be used as a networking tool. Remember, this is your professional network.”
Although, having genuine friends on your LinkedIn archive doesn’t hurt. In fact, some pals are the most important connections for students: alumni. Whether you interact online, in person or both, Blue said, alumni are the ones with jobs in the real world and are the building blocks to a strong network. That’s why she’s so adamant graduating students use LinkedIn. They’re immensely helpful towards getting the employers contacts you want, especially if they work for the company of your dreams.
Remember that resumes don’t auto-update.
In order for this to happen, however, you have to update your profile. Constantly. Make sure everyone sees where you stand professionally at all times. A normal resume becomes lost and outdated after it’s discarded in two years time. With LinkedIn, it’s far easier, and simpler, for you to keep peers and employers updated on any of your current projects, making your professional life more visible and proficient.
With that freedom, you have the opportunity to show activities that never seem to fit on a traditional resume. Like volunteer services—redundant and space filling before, but on LinkedIn, add character and make you stand out. “You don’t have to worry about limiting content as it’s a great place to dump all those experiences you had,” Coven said. “You use it as a catch-all bucket.”
Beyond helping yourself get that job, you aid peers and future co-workers, and let the managers and employers of the world see your gifts and skills. So if you don’t have a page yet, what’s the hold up? If you haven’t updated yours in a while, get on it. These days, anyone could stumble across your page. Get off Facebook and start networking.