LinkedIn is no longer optional. It is truly an indispensable component of the modern job search. Unfortunately, the effective use of LinkedIn is not intuitive. In order to get the best results, it is important to know how to use LinkedIn effectively. Over the next few months, I will provide top LinkedIn tips geared toward setting up a winning LinkedIn profile and using LinkedIn effectively to help you find a job.
The first point of focus on your LinkedIn profile is what I call “The LinkedIn Triumvirate” (any history majors?). Wherever you appear on LinkedIn, from search results, to emails to suggested connections, your Name, Profile Picture and LinkedIn Headline will show up with you. That makes these things the most valuable components of your LinkedIn profile. Let’s discuss each:
1) Name: This may seem intuitive, but I see a lot of people making mistakes when it comes to their names. People often try to find you by conducting a “name” search on LinkedIn, so it is important to use your legal name or a standard and easily recognizable nickname for your legal name (eg “Dave” for “David”). Include your maiden name in the LinkedIn provided field (if you have one) to make it easier for people to find you. Do NOT include titles and degrees (eg “Dr” or “MA”) as these may skew search results away from your account. LinkedIn’s User Agreement prohibits the inclusion of any information aside from your name in this field, so do not include other information like your email address or Twitter account even though they would be highly visible as a result.
2) Profile Picture: LinkedIn claims that users are seven times more likely to view your account if you include a profile picture. That makes a lot of sense. Your picture is your visual representation on LinkedIn. It is much easier to relate to an account when it has a face as opposed to just a name. Your profile picture should be a professional head shot. This must be a professional picture of you alone, so don’t try to crop your face out of a family photo or use your business logo, etc. I advise students to dress for their picture as they would dress if they were attending an industry networking event. That means what you wear would change drastically if you are looking to work at a bank vs a tech start-up company.
3) LinkedIn Headline: Your LinkedIn Headline is the short, 120 character description that is featured prominently in your LinkedIn profile. I believe that the headline is the most valuable and the most underutilized space in Social Media. Your Headline is your LinkedIn Elevator Pitch. It has to be what sells you! These are the critical words that will either encourage someone to click on your profile OR move on to other candidates. The Headline will normally default to your job or student status (eg Student at Touro College). Change it! Include information that illustrates why the reader MUST pay attention to you and the skills that you bring to the table. Don’t worry. It takes time and effort to create a wining LinkedIn Headline. I personally frequently enhance my own, but it is critical to utilize this valuable Social Media real estate to your best advantage!