Social networks of the early 2000s have been replaced by newer, sleeker competitors. LinkedIn has stood the test of time. The site remains the gold standard for professional networking and recruitment. While military-only sites like rallypoint.com see a higher concentration of veteran-only content, LinkedIn’s massive population of over 575 million users makes a LinkedIn account an absolute must for the serious job seeker.
Here are a few tips to help your LinkedIn profile stand out from the crowd.
Pick the Perfect Profile Pic
Your LinkedIn page as a whole is designed to present yourself as a competent professional. This displays that you are well-suited for a job in the industry of your choice. This profile picture should help you achieve that goal.
Your picture should be up to date, high quality, and appropriate for your industry. The picture you have from boot camp may look awesome, but it tells your employer that you’re an 18-year-old kid. Instead, you are a veteran with valuable occupational expertise. On the other hand, that swimsuit pic might show off your hard work at the gym, but it’s not appropriate for a business setting. If you’re looking for jobs in a corporate setting it’s a good idea to have a picture in a suit or other business wear. If you don’t have a high-quality picture, it might be worth hiring a professional photographer to take headshots.
Earn Credibility with Endorsements
LinkedIn offers users the opportunity to list their skills and then to invite others to validate their skills through “endorsements”. If I list that I am a competent C++ programmer, for example, that claim carries a lot more weight if I am endorsed by professionals who are already working in programming or IT.
One easy way to get endorsements is by endorsing others. Once others in your network are alerted that you have endorsed them, they will likely return the favor. The more endorsements you can rack up the more you will stand out to recruiters.
List a Complete Work History
Make sure to list all of your work, educational, and volunteer experience on your profile.
Linking yourself to schools and employers makes your profile more visible to others affiliated with those organizations. 85% of jobs are filled by networking, and there are studies to prove this. Every bit of visibility helps!
Additionally, when potential employers see your LinkedIn page, they are expecting to see a comprehensive list of all your work experience. In fact, many employers will ask for your “LinkedIn resume” when you apply. Your resume is automatically generated from your LinkedIn profile. In order to make sure your experience is all considered, make sure your profile section is complete and up to date.
Make the Most of Your Headline
The “headline” section of your profile is a place for you to say a couple of sentences about who you are and what you are hoping to accomplish professionally.
If you’re already in a position, you can mention your title and your work philosophy. When searching for a job, this is the place to specify what kind of work you are looking for. Headlines you have just says “Project Manager” it’s difficult for recruiters to tell much about you. But if you bill yourself as “an experienced project manager looking to leverage my experience to help tech companies serve customers more efficiently,” hiring managers get a sense of you, your goals, and where you’re at in the hiring process.
Forbes’ Susan Adams profiled David T. Stevens, a man who experienced extraordinary success on LinkedIn. Stevens updated his LinkedIn status upon being laid off from his job. “I’m up for grabs, who wants me?” Almost immediately he received a call from one of his connection, who connected him to a friend of a friend who had him working within a month.
Years later Stevens found himself looking for an upgrade. He saw a connection with an interesting job, messaged her for information, and soon after found himself working in his new field.
Stories like Stevens’ can seem almost unattainable. But it all starts with the basics: a clean, professional profile which clearly communicated his experience and goals to his active network.
Your network is out there, too. What are you waiting for?