There’s a little-known LinkedIn feature that allows you to decide whether or not your network will receive notifications of your profile updates. You can turn it off so your employer doesn’t suspect that you're looking for a new job.
Once you create a profile, you need to build it out to make it work for you. If you create one and don’t populate it at all, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Here’s what you need to know to create a killer profile that will get you found and contacted:
1. The professional headline does not necessarily need to state your current job title or company name. This is the first thing someone sees next to your name and photo. You should use it to speak to the value you offer right off the bat. If you’re searching for a new job, put it in the context of where you want to go next.
2. Photos are important. Recruiters rarely (if ever) look at profiles without photos.
3. Your summary should be a few short paragraphs. You have 2,000 characters for this section. Make it slightly personal by referring to why you like what you do and why you are good at it. Describe a few challenges you can solve for an employer. Include your greatest accomplishments, any awards and/or relevant current studies here.
Résumés and CVs are factual and don't offer the chance to insert your personality. Here’s your opportunity to do it.
4. For descriptions of jobs and positions, use keywords for the types of jobs you’re interested in. An easy way to figure out what the main words in a job description are is to use a tool like Wordle.net, which will create a word cloud of the terms that appear the most. You need to use these words in a meaningful way, however, using them in your experience and summary where applicable. This will make it more likely that the right recruiters will find you.
If you’re unemployed and you don’t have a current role listed, you may be missed in searches. Most recruiters search the “current title” field when looking for candidates. To avoid being missed, create a job title that reflects what you’re seeking. You can use “seeking new opportunity” or “making a career change” in the company name field.
5. Skills should always be kept up to date, and you should use those you want to be known for and that will help you land a new role. They should be competencies ranging from “training and development” to software skills such as “CSS” or “Adobe Photoshop.”
If you change careers, develop new skills or take on new responsibilities. Add them and delete any outdated ones that are no longer as important to your field or job search.
6. Make connections, but don’t connect with just anyone. You should invite all your past and current contacts to connect with you. LinkedIn should suggest them to you so you won’t have to spend a lot of time searching on your own. Try to have at least 50 to 100 connections. If you don’t, recruiters may think you know very few people or that social media frightens you.
7. Recommendations can give you a huge boost in recruiter interest. It’s like providing references before you’re asked and giving someone a reason to want to talk to you. If you have good recommendations and other candidates they’ve found do not have any recommendations, who do you think they’ll call for an interview?
Ask three to five former or current colleagues for recommendations. Tell them what you would like them to highlight, such as your management skills or proactive attitude and approach to work. If you offer to provide someone with a recommendation, they may be more willing to return the favor. Be sure to reciprocate for those who write you recommendations.
8. Another way to get noticed is to join groups that focus on your field of expertise or other areas of interest or that include alumni from your school. Job listings are often posted in groups. Also, if you comment on or post articles of interest to the group, you may get messages from folks looking to hire.
These tricks to structuring your profile – especially injecting your personality – will help you get found. Showing a personal side will make people excited about meeting you. Let them see who you are beyond the job titles and stuffy professionalisms.
In the end, hiring is mainly about chemistry and company cultural fit. LinkedIn gives you an opportunity to showcase why you could be a good match. Don’t pass it up.