* "Only connect. . ." E.M. Forster, Howard's End

Monday, June 13, 2011

If you haven’t yet been to LinkedIn, it’s like the professional version of Facebook. Instead of listing your favorite movies and music, you list your past jobs and skills. Instead of a wall, past employers and coworkers can write public recommendations for you.

Your LinkedIn profile should be more than just a duplicate of your print resume/CV. You have the room to elaborate, and it’s a great opportunity to network with individuals who were nearly impossible to reach before. I’ll talk about utilizing the networking opportunities of LinkedIn in a separate article.

Creating an account and profile are pretty self-explanatory, so I’m not going to elaborate on the technical details. For those of you with LinkedIn accounts, you should already know the basics. I’ve created a LinkedIn account for an imaginary “Marion Appleby” so you can see the sections I’m referring to.

LinkedIn Profile Summary
This is your elevator pitch. It’s important to add substance to this section because it’s the first block of text people will see, and then they might skim over your work experience. Don’t only summarize your past experience; discuss your goals, what type of work you’re passionate about, and what your biggest accomplishments have been.

Highlight the specific skills you have in keyword form, separated by commas, like this:
marketing, branding, quality analysis, website design, media buying, recruiting, graphic design

Don’t just list the companies you’ve worked for here. For each job you’ve had briefly describe what the company does and what you did there. This includes the job you currently hold. The content here should be similar to what you would write on your resume, except you can elaborate more because you don’t have to fit it onto a 8 1/2 by 11 sheet of paper.

List your relevant coursework in this section if it’s relevant to the types of jobs/opportunities
you’re looking for. For example, if you’re applying for a graphic design job, you might want to list the advanced-level graphic design courses you completed. In the activities and societies, don’t list every extracurricular you were part of. List the ones where you had a leadership, or at least a very prominent role. Employers a few years from now won’t really care that you wrote a couple articles for the school newspaper freshman year (because really, who hasn’t?).

Other LinkedIn tips to keep in mind:
1. Get a URL
Modify your public profile URL to be: http://www.linkedin.com/in/YOURNAME

2. Add everything
Unlike your resume where you might only include relevant positions for the job you’re applying for, I like to add everything to my LinkedIn account. I use LinkedIn primarily for networking, so if I find someone I haven’t spoke to in a coworker at a past job in a couple years, I can jog their memory with a description of what I did at that company.

3. Be 100% complete
You will appear more frequently in search results if your profile is 100% complete. You need to include three positions, add a photo, and get a recommendation. If you don’t want to display a photo, you can add one and then use privacy settings to block people from seeing it. You can’t get a recommendation until you make connections, which you shouldn’t do until you fill out your profile anyway.

4. Be professional but friendly
It’s important to be professional and concise when it comes to your work experience, but LinkedIn is also a social networking site, so let your personality come out (especially in the summary section) as much as you can.

5. List websites
Don’t leave the section of websites blank if you can help it. Even if you don’t have a personal website, list the URLs of the company you work for so people can instantly get a better grasp on your experience.

Diana Freedman on November 14, 2008 UStandOut.com

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