It might seem like there are far too many networking sites around these days. What with Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and even the newly redesigned MySpace, it can often feel like quite a task keeping everything current. But LinkedIn is a valuable tool, and a useful way of demonstrating your worth to potential employers, if you know how to use it properly. Luckily, it’s not difficult. Sign up for a free account, and keep the following in mind when creating your profile.
You won’t have to worry too much about making your profile look visually attractive, since most of it will be formatted for you in the new design. But the main thing you do have control over, as far as the look of your profile is concerned, is your profile picture. Pick a good quality photo that shows you from the front in a good light. You want to look employable; don’t use a picture you’d be ashamed to show your parents. Aside from that, the only thing you can really do to change the look of your profile is to decide which order the different factors should appear in. Once you have everything filled in, you can click on the little arrows on each block to drag them around so that the most relevant ones appear first.
This needs to be short, snappy, and eye-catching. You also need to think a little about keywords, SEO, that kind of thing. Basically, use words that will help people find you. You’re not “just a girl who tries to make pretty things”, you’re a “Graphic Designer of Logos and Websites”.
This is the most important part after the headline. If people want to know more about you, this is what they’ll read, and they may not bother looking at anything else so it needs to include all of the key facts. Give a brief yet informative description of what you do, and follow it up with some areas of expertise to show employers why you’re their best choice: “Saxophonist with experience playing in West End productions, specialising in classical orchestral and jazz music.” You could also add some notable achievements here, like that book you just had published. While you’ll list that elsewhere, you want to make sure anyone who even glimpses at your profile knows about it. Finally, stick your website URL on its own line here so that it draws the eye. You’ll put it under contact details, but those are a little more hidden in the new LinkedIn design.
This is where you list your current and previous work. Titles should be consistent, and – again – brief. Capitalise to make them stand out. Briefly describe each role, making sure to add any special responsibilities you had. A tip when entering the name of the place you worked: if it’s part of a larger company, you can type in the larger company so LinkedIn finds it on the site and sticks the logo next to your job title and then click “edit the display name” to make it more specific. Maybe the magazine you write for isn’t listed on LinkedIn, but the publishing company that owns it might be, and it’ll have an eye-catching logo too.
Skills & Expertise:
List every skill you have that you can think of that is relevant to your career, and make them snappy: “logos, websites, banners, posters, greeting cards, business cards”, etc. Once you’ve got a big list, your connections can just click a button to endorse you for that skill. In fact, LinkedIn will prompt them to do it when they log onto the site.
You might want to list all of your wonderfully exciting interests, but you probably want to limit it to ones that are relevant, maybe with one or two extras to prove you aren’t a total workaholic. Of course, this depends on your job. A sports commentator should feel free to list the dozens of different water-sports he enjoys, even though taking part in those activities isn’t strictly in his job description. Maybe try a thought experiment in which you imagine your potential employer saying, “I would like a (your job title here) who did (interest here) in her spare time.” So designers, feel free to include “painting”. But probably leave “partying” out of it.
Just list your most recent qualifications here. If you’ve got a PHD, then don’t go any further back than your undergraduate degree, because no one cares about your A-Level results anymore. Add in a few extra-curricular activities from your time at university/college here, but – again – keep it relevant. List the most relevant first, and if you were a member of fifteen societies then you can probably forget a few of them.
Once you’ve filled in these blocks and dragged them around a bit so that the most relevant for you and your career is at the top of the page, you can think about adding a few more. Some will be more useful to you than others, but if you do find additional sections that would be relevant to you then it’s a good way to make you stand out. If you’ve spent years of your life volunteering for various causes, the “volunteering and causes” block is your opportunity to show that off. If you’ve got a whole bunch of certifications that would be useful for potential employers to know about, add “certifications” to your profile. Got a novel on the market? Go ahead and whack it in the “publications” block.