It is extremely important for job seekers to present themselves well in today’s social media world. This article will focus on Linkedin, the most important business-oriented social networking site for professionals. Your Linkedin profile is the key component of your social media identity. It may include your professional photo, profile activity, background (overall summary, work experience, organizations to which you belong, professional certifications, skills and expertise and education), recommendations and connections.
It is not uncommon to be overwhelmed by the advances in social media. For many it seems that as soon as they master a particular technique or skill, the medium changes and everything they have learned is out-dated.
However, as difficult as it may be to keep up, the ability to do so will help set you apart from other job seekers who are late in adapting.
From our experience LinkedIn is generally the first place perspective employers look to find out more about your credentials, and it is the most powerful avenue for identifying networking opportunities. In essence, your LinkedIn profile is your online resume; it is a complete representation of who you are and why people need to pay attention to you.
Here are a few pointers: Make your online resume easy to find. The first thing to do when creating a Linkedin account is to create a unique link to your profile. The link should be in the following format: www.linkedin.com/in/firstnamelastname (no capitalizations, spaces or dashes). Place this link in the signature line of your e-mail so it will be easy for interested professionals to access.
Equally important is to develop a well-crafted LinkedIn headline which appears beneath your name on your profile. Many people simply use their job title as their headline, however, being that your headline appears each time someone searches for your name, we advise Touro students to use it as their LinkedIn elevator pitch and provide some information that compels users to click through to their full profile. The headline should focus on what defines and sells them the best in 120 characters or less. That is no easy task, and this is usually the most difficult component in creating a winning LinkedIn profile. One headline example is: “Innovative, educational leadership.”
As an aside, NEVER put that you are seeking employment in your headline and do not pay for or place the LinkedIn Job Seeker Badge on your account, as most recruiters and decision makers see that as a sign of desperation.
LinkedIn experts have long claimed that having a professional profile picture makes your profile more enticing. Anecdotally it is said that it a picture increases the likelihood of your profile being viewed up to 7 times more frequently. Whether that is true or slightly exaggerated, it is quite clear that it is much easier to relate to a picture than it is to a blank screen. A professional headshot is an absolute must to remain competitive in the new LinkedIn profile arena.
If you have been using LinkedIn and viewed a profile lately, you have probably been asked to “endorse” a person to whom you are connected for some set of skills. Prior to this point, users had to write a recommendation, an individualized, longer statement highlighting someone’s strengths if they wanted to endorse a users’ performance.
Recommendations took time and effort to write, and as a result, were usually written by people who really believed in the skill of the person they were recommending. Endorsements are made with a single click and list of potential skills is provided to each user, making it very easy to endorse anyone. As a result, they are largely meaningless gestures and carry little real weight. Full recommendations can still be written, and that remains the best way to endorse a professional you feel is worthy of such praise.
However, endorsements cannot be ignored. It is important to note that LinkedIn is considering using the number of endorsements in their search algorithms so that those with more endorsements for a specific skill will show up higher in search rankings. Unfortunately, that will make the giving and receiving of endorsements more valuable even though they say little about a person’s actual ability.
To that end, you must make sure that you have a complete set of skills for other people to endorse. We advise Touro students to go beyond the basics here and detail a robust list of skills that show their highest level of expertise in their professional area.
Your profile also emphasizes your activity on the site, placing recent updates at the top of the profile. Previously, a user could get away with one status update a week; that is no longer the case. It is important to regularly join or comment in groups, update you status, answer questions or respond to other status updates to ensure that you show regular positive activity on LinkedIn.
Your profile also places a lot of emphasis on your background. A strong summary of your skills is now more important than ever. People tend to skim online summaries as well. Long-worded statements and long paragraphs are much more likely to be ignored. We advise the use of a more targeted, direct summary that highlights your best professional qualities in a few lines or less (focus on your intellectual, interpersonal and job skills). If you feel the need to include more information, put it in shorter paragraph form. The longer the paragraph, the more likely that crucial parts will not be read. Always lead off each section and each paragraph with your strongest points, as people who skim are less likely to go past the first few words.
Here is an example: “Motivated education professional with strong leadership and team building skills. Educated and experienced with dynamic analytical and problem solving abilities. Dedicated, pays close attention to detail. Personable and engaging with the ability to motivate coworkers and team members. Heavily invested in the success of personal, team and organizational goals.”
In addition, a bulleted section highlighting your core competencies complements your summary statement. For the maximum impact, focus your competencies on actual tasks and abilities you will be able to utilize in the professional world (e.g. social media, program development, strategic planning, leadership, etc).
As a powerful networking tool, one of the most valuable parts of LinkedIn is the ability to contact those individuals in whom you are interested. One of the ways that LinkedIn tries to make money is by making it difficult to contact these people of interest. If you are not directly connected to someone, you usually cannot send them an e-mail or see their contact information without paying $10 for an “In-Mail” (A LinkedIn generated email that can be sent to any LinkedIn user). It is hard to justify that expense for someone you don’t know when reviewing “cold” profiles, so it is crucial to make it easy for people to contact you. We advise students to put their e-mail address at the end of their summary statement so that interested parties can contact them without paying.
Social media has rapidly changed the world. It is no surprise that the agent of that change, Linkedin, is always in a state of flux. Success has always required time and effort. Students often mention that as soon as they master the use of social media, things change, and they have to adjust everything they had produced. While that is true, and it can be frustrating, the opportunity LinkedIn provides cannot be ignored. An updated profile designed to maximize your visibility and marketability is critical for success. Seize the moment and stay ahead to help you get ahead.
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