7 Tips for Getting the Most Out of LinkedIn
By Justin Sablich
Whether you’re thinking about a new job or not or even just networking, the following tips will help you get the most out of LinkedIn, and will make your life a lot easier should you begin exploring new opportunities.
Choosing the Right Profile Photo
As with any social network, the profile photo is likely the first thing people notice. While you can get away with goofy photos on Twitter and Facebook, it’s important to keep things professional on LinkedIn.
The platform itself recommends making sure the picture is recent and looks like you; that your face takes up around 60 percent of the photo, as long-distance shots don’t stand out and wear what you would like to wear to work.
The Headline Does Not Have to Be Your Current Job Title
Most headlines you see on LinkedIn are typically a person’s current job title. But you can get so much more out of that important space by being descriptive. If you’re currently employed, consider getting descriptive about what you do in your role. If you’re actively looking for a new job, try to succinctly sum up your experience or focus in a skill that you are passionate about.
If you can fit a job title in addition to other information, that could work as well. I am currently using “10+ Years Experience as a Cross-Platform Journalist; Contributing Writer and Editor at The New York Times” to sum up my overall experience while including my current freelance role with The Times. It’s always good to show you’re still working even if it’s temporary.
Tell Your Story With Your Summary
This is the one area I have probably spent the most time on, because it gives you an opportunity to tell potential employers who you are beyond your resume. You should treat it like you would a cover letter. You do not need to tell your whole life story, and ideally you’re not using up all the space that LinkedIn gives you, but use it to highlight skills and projects you are most proud of, and, most importantly, what makes you unique in a crowded field of candidates.
Endorsements and Skills
The most effective way to get more people from your network to endorse you for the skills you want to highlight is to focus on the connections that you think deserve endorsements of their own. This can lead to those people returning the favor.
When creating and curating the skills themselves, be selective. Stick to the ones that are the most relevant to what you do or what you want to be doing. Also, some common skills like Microsoft Office and PowerPoint are rarely beneficial, unless they are at the center of the job you seek.
Sometimes (actually, most of the time) others are better at describing your strengths than you are. At the very least, having others describe you is more credible.
These personal testimonials describe what it’s like to work with you, which is often impossible to do effectively on your own, without sounding, you know, egotistical.
When I began my job hunt, I had no recommendations at all that were relevant to my current job history. But I found it quite easy to start building them up by simply asking former colleagues who I worked closely with if they would do so, and most of them obliged happily. It’s important to only ask those who really have a good sense of what your strengths are and whom you actually worked closely with. Those are the people who will provide a genuinely positive assessment.
Customize Your Profile’s URL
By default, you’re given a long, weird URL that includes a string of random numbers. But it’s very easy to change your URL so that it best reflects your professional identity and is search-friendly, which usually means just using your full name.
If your first and last names are not available, you can try adding your middle initial, or find one additional work that describes who you are professionally, like “JohnDoeJournalist” or “JaneDoePhotographer.” This can also help when people are searching for you on Google or within LinkedIn.
Write Your Own Articles
LinkedIn has become an influential platform for publishing personal written content. You can use this to demonstrate your expertise in a particular area. For example, since I was searching for audience development and social media strategy roles, I wrote a piece on how I would cover a particular sporting event using different social media tools. You can also write about things like what it was like working on a particular project or story and highlight what you learned from the experience and what you contributed to the final product.
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