Veterans transitioning to the civilian workforce need more than a military jargon-free resume to catch the eye of hiring managers. In today’s competitive job market, using LinkedIn for your military transition is an important step in launching a post-military career.
“LinkedIn is a major resource for anyone who is passively or actively searching for a job,” said Philip Dana, a former Navy surface warfare officer who serves as director, global talent acquisition, at NuVasive. “All recruiting teams in corporate America leverage LinkedIn in one way or another to find or network with veterans.”
Here are 15 Ways to Make LinkedIn Work for You
Peppering your profile with keywords found in the specific job or industry you are seeking is key to attracting a recruiter’s attention. “Most mistakes in social media involve not leveraging search engine optimization, meaning not putting enough meat and potatoes, not using enough terms and words that define who you are and what you want to do,” Dana says.
Borrow From the Best
For “how to” examples when creating your LinkedIn profile, turn to employees in the industry you are targeting, as well as profiles belonging to social media experts. “Get somebody who does this on a daily basis, grab their profile and copy it,” Dana says. “My own profile can be used as a template.”
Make a Statement
The headline is the “most valuable piece of real estate” on your profile because it is visible when recruiters search LinkedIn for job candidates. Use the space to advertise your skills. “Most people just put a job title there and it is boring,” says social media expert Sultan Camp, a Navy veteran and recruiter for Orion International. “For example, if I had an IT background and did sales, I would say, ‘The geek who can speak – Bridging the gap between IT and sales.’”
LinkedIn’s executive summary should be the equivalent of your “30-second elevator speech” to perspective employers, Camp says. It is an opportunity to highlight the core competencies you would bring to an employer and broadcast that you are transitioning to the civilian workforce.
Be Picture Perfect
Including a photo makes it seven times more likely your profile will be viewed. Unless you are looking to transition to a defense industry job, a professional civilian headshot is the best choice since a military photo may “create the impression you are not ready to leave the uniform,” Camp says.
Make Your Profile Visually Appealing
Similar to a resume, your LinkedIn profile should be easy to read. Camp says that means avoiding block paragraphs and using bullets when outlining job experience and accomplishments.
Avoid Sending the Wrong Message
Repeatedly mentioning your military rank and using military jargon in your profile tells employers you “want to stay where your comfort zone is.”
Translate Your Skills
When describing your military experience, include the same skills and terms found in job announcements for positions you are seeking and “marry them up” so your profilestands out to hiring managers.
Active involvement in LinkedIn Groups – both military and civilian – scores points with hiring officials who gain insights into your expertise and experiences. By joining groups, Dana says a veteran can “define who you are” and tell recruiters “what my future interest is.”
Grow Your Network
Adding connections – i.e., the contacts you ask to join your personal network – allows you to network with veterans who have a similar military background and have successfully transitioned to the civilian workplace, as well as hiring officials, friends and family who may have job leads.
Cultivate Recommendations and Endorsements
Hiring managers increasingly are using LinkedIn recommendations and endorsements as filters when recruiting potential applicants, requiring a minimum number of each. When asking for recommendations, Camp advises directing connections toward the aspects of your skill set that match your civilian career aspirations. “You are trying to build your online professional presence,” he says. “If you have a background in logistics but you also have worked in security and you want to go the logistics route, you don’t want them to highlight yoursecurity experience.”
Manage Your Settings
For recruiters to find you on LinkedIn, your profile needs to be public. You also can make changes such as turning off activity broadcasts and customizing your public profile URL.
Do not miss out on a job opportunity by forgetting to include up-to-date contact information. “Sometimes recruiters will see a great-looking LinkedIn profile, see you are transitioning and see you are a fit,” Dana says, “but if you don’t have at least an e-mail or Twitter handle in your “Contact Me” section, we may just pass on you.”
Search for Jobs
LinkedIn also allows you to search for jobs and sends job announcements directly to you that match your interests and skills. In addition, members often post jobs directly to LinkedIn Groups.
Grab an Upgrade
LinkedIn offers veterans a free, one-year Job Seeker premium account, which includes perks such as a complete list of who has viewed your profile. If your profile includes your veteran status, a pop-up window offering the free upgrade should appear when you sign into your LinkedIn account.
No matter whether you are a transitioning officer or an enlisted service member, a half-hour spentcreating a LinkedIn profile will be time well spent as you enter the civilian job market.
“The return on investment for your time and the cost, which is free, is definitely there,” Dana says.
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