Utilizing LinkedIn to Maximize Your Job Search

Use LinkedIn to Maximize Your Job SearchLong gone are the days of paper applications and cold calling companies about open positions. Job searching has become increasingly digital with networking tools like LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a useful job search and recruitment tool and can also be a powerful means to expand your professional network. Currently, LinkedIn operates as the world’s largest professional network on the Internet1.  Over 347 million members in over 200 countries and territories utilize its services.

Whether you’re using LinkedIn to find a job or to expand your professional network, it’s important to know how to maximize your profile.

Maximize your profile

Your LinkedIn profile can be a powerful tool that showcases your talent and increases your visibility to potential employers. To begin, be sure you have a completed profile. Here are some sections to pay special attention to:

  • Headline. After your photo, your headline will be the first piece of information users will see about you. Your headline can be up to 120 characters. Consider this space as your virtual elevator pitch. It should be concise, direct and portray exactly what you’re hoping to achieve in the next step of your career.
  • Summary. Your summary can be up to 2,000 characters, but consider quality over quantity here. Utilize this space to sell yourself—highlight your background, goals and any major accomplishments. The summary is usually most effective when written in first person. Don’t be afraid to show your personality. You want the recruiter to get a sense of who are you and what you want out of your next job opportunity.
  • Skills. Here’s your opportunity to showcase your skills and abilities. LinkedIn provides a skills search tool that compares the popularity of specific terms. Try not include skills that you’re not 100% sure you can back up. As with the rest of your profile, honesty is the best policy.
  • Recommendations. The power and influence of recommendations will only be effective when they are natural. It’s okay to solicit recommendations from your professional network but they need to be authentic. Avoid using recommendations from family or friends.

Regardless of the section you’re working on, avoid heavily using buzzwords. A buzzword is a word that’s overused to the point of losing its original meaning. Buzzwords are constantly changing; do some research to discover what some of the current buzzwords are today.

Selecting the best you

A profile picture can make or break your LinkedIn profile. Recruiters see it as your personal brand—so be thoughtful in selecting your image.

Select a photo that looks like you. That might seem obvious but there’s nothing more awkward than showing up to an interview and catching the interviewer off guard because your picture was outdated, blurry or not an accurate portrayal of your current self.

Second, if you’re using a photo that you took yourself (versus a professional headshot), make sure you are actually in the frame. Avoid images taken from a distance or with other people since that can make it hard to distinguish your personal features. Also consider taking your image from the top of your shoulders to just above your head—allowing your face to take up about 60% of the frame.

Something else to take into consideration—since your photo should be a close up—is to be thoughtful about your expression. Most recruiters will likely respond to an approachable, friendly photo rather than one that is overly serious or overly silly expression.

As for attire—try to avoid printed shirts; solid colors are usually your best bet. And when you’re selecting what to wear, consider the environment you’re hoping to join. If your top choices require business attire, consider mimicking that dress code in your photo.

Remember that if you’re using LinkedIn to find a job, your profile photo is likely to be a your first impression—so make it a great one!

Accelerating your profile

If you’re currently using LinkedIn for your job search, you might consider upgrading to LinkedIn Premium.  Some benefits that come with a premium subscription include:

  • Direct messaging recruiters or job posters
  • Becoming a featured application, moving to the top of recruiters lists
  • Viewing application insights to see how you compare to other candidates
  • Knowing who’s viewed your profile within the last 90 days and how they found your profile

Now that you have a better idea of what to include in your LinkedIn profile, the next step is to keep it updated.  Even if you have a complete and thorough profile, the moment it becomes outdated its equity drops dramatically. You never know, your LinkedIn profile might just create your next career opportunity.

Image credit: Flickr/Petras Gagilas