Do you use LinkedIn? If you’re like most people, it’s the social media network that you’re a part of, but mostly ignore, until the very moment you need it.
I was a recruiter for 7 years of my career and I can tell you that LinkedIn is one of the tools you should absolutely be using when you’re looking for a job, but also tuning up constantly. Keeping your profile up to date and adding connections in real time will serve you well when you decide to flip that job search switch ON. Not only that, but it will also enable recruiters to find you (they are looking on LinkedIn constantly) when you’re not actively looking so you can form a connection and passively learn about opportunities.
I want to share 5 quick and easy things you can do now (and maintain every few months) that will enable you to take advantage all LinkedIn has to offer. Let’s start by giving it a tune up today!
1. Give your profile picture a check-up.
Ask yourself if your picture is current enough, feels professional (versus a personal photo you happened to put on LinkedIn), and is making a positive impression on anyone stopping by your profile.
The best profile photos are ones of you alone, in a somewhat professional outfit (though does not have to be a suit), and looking happy and friendly, yet professional. Avoid photos with someone else’s arm cropped out or ones taken during a night out.
2. Add recent connections.
It’s always better to add connections throughout the year versus right when you need something, so make this part of your tune up. Are you working with someone new at your job? Meet someone interesting at an event or conference? Even if you don’t add those connections in real time, doing so every few months will pay off later.
Connections are helpful for a few reasons. First of all, it’s very hard to keep track of your broader professional network, especially given how quickly people move around these days. Perhaps someone you met last year now is working at your dream company. Or maybe they have a friend (2nd degree connection to you) that works at your dream company. Ultimately, keeping track of your professional network is not only easiest on LinkedIn, but also expected. No one will think it’s weird that you connect with them on the site, versus Facebook or Instagram which tends to be more personal.
3. Make sure you have brief summaries under each job listed.
While you absolutely do not need to repeat your whole resume on LinkedIn, having a summary under each role is very helpful. Recruiters will often search for keywords that relate to the job and not all job titles will contain those keywords. I often use the example of one of my own past titles which was “Talent Acquisition Associate”. Since that type of role is more often referred to as “Recruiter” the summary was an opportunity for me to clarify that the responsibilities were the same.
In this example, here is the summary I used: “Managed full cycle recruiting process for open roles within the NYC Corporate Office & US Retail Stores. Screened, hired, and managed programming for summer, fall, and spring internship programs.” In addition to using keywords and outlining your responsibilities, you may want to weave in what the company does, especially for companies that aren’t well known. If I wanted to add that on to the example above, I’d say “…for a women’s fashion company” after describing my role.
Adding these short summaries will enable recruiters to more fully understand your skill set and present you with the right opportunities. If you’re not interested in a job opportunity shared with you, feel free to ignore the message and no harm done!
Note: While it’s not make or break while “tuning up,” another opportunity to outline your career and skills is in the “summary” section. This section is good for an overarching statement or to tell your “career story”. Prior to starting The Prepary, mine would have started with “Recruiting and Human Resources professional with over seven years of experience in the Finance and Fashion Industries” and then elaborated further on some of my areas of expertise. This section becomes more important when you are actively looking for a new opportunity.
4. Make sure your headline is current and compelling.
The LinkedIn headline is often ignored but it’s actually the first thing people see when they land on your profile (or see you in a search result) other than your name and photo. It’s that line of text sitting right under your name and is set by default to your current title and company.
While it’s ok to leave that as is if you’re not looking for a new opportunity, you should know that you can edit it. If you’re a student you might want to write something like “Senior at NYU Seeking Marketing Opportunities” or if you’re unemployed and looking for a new role you can go with something along the lines of “Marketing Professional Seeking New Opportunities”. People have different opinions on what makes a good LinkedIn headline, but I think it should be pretty literal so anyone who lands on your profile can quickly get a sense of your status. In my opinion, if you’re in a job you like and are not actively looking your title and company is just fine.
5. Browse your network and reconnect with people.
Take a few moments every few months to look through your feed, browse through your network, and send people quick messages saying hello, congrats on the new job, or anything else. I’ve always felt that to be an effective networker, you need to keep relationships strong before you’re asking for a favor. It only takes a few moments to write a quick message and check in with someone… so don’t be shy. If someone is doing something you’re truly interesting take it a step further and suggest a quick catch up or coffee.
Doing these 5 easy things now and then repeating every few months will take LinkedIn from being an afterthought to being a tool that will help you when you need it to… and maybe when you least expect it!