LinkedIn is a great online resource through which both employers and perspective candidates can network and find employment opportunities. Career development professionals discuss with students every day the importance of using LinkedIn as a tool to both network and conduct a job search. There are eight aspects to using LinkedIn that professionals should be aware of which will assist them in their future.
Be Strategic When Making Connections
Connecting with individuals based on the position to which you aspire is the first step in maximizing LinkedIn as a networking tool. For example, Joey has worked as a career counselor for four years at a small, mid-sized university in the Midwest. His eventual career goal is to become a director of career services. Joey needs LinkedIn to connect with other directors of career services and begin to discuss how best to develop the skills sets he needs.
Build Your Profile
Your LinkedIn profile is like a billboard. Develop each section as if you were writing a resume. Include every section that is applicable to you. The patents section is specific to the sciences, but be thinking about your language section. Maybe you do not know a foreign language, but this can be an opportunity to begin learning the basics of a new language. Your projects and volunteer sections are critical to showcasing specific experience you have both inside and outside of your professional role. These sections could also be where you include professional associations, conferences, and community-based presentations.
Carefully Read Your Connections Profiles
Find out what interests you about the individual you are connecting with. Maybe they have worked at an institution which you have wanted to work at. Maybe they have a skill set in which you want to learn. Or maybe you have a shared experience. Maybe you are alumni of the same institution. This is how you can begin a conversation with your connection. For example, when you send a message to connect with someone, include a note discussing shared work experiences or how you know your shared connections.
Constantly Update Your Profile
There is nothing worse than having an out-of-date profile. Update your profile every month with something new whether it is a new experience, project, or conference proposal. Demonstrate to your connections that you are always learning and are willing to develop new skills. For example, give a presentation to a student population you have never reached out to before. Collaborate with a student organization in a field unfamiliar to you. Show your connections that you are continuing to improve your abilities. Always update your current job responsibilities. A great time to do this is during your yearly review, as you focus on your accomplishments in the last year and what you hope to accomplish next year. Your connections will notice these little changes in your profile. You could be offered a job interview based on a connection watching you grow over a period of years.
Update Your Picture
A picture is worth a thousand words. That statement has never been truer than when using LinkedIn. Your profile picture is one of the first things connections notice about your profile. If you have a bad picture or a selfie, individuals will remember that about you. Show that you have taken the time to upload a professional picture. If you are unable to take a quality photograph, ask your university marketing department if they would be able to take a few for you. It takes just a few minutes but it will make a big difference.
Develop New Partnerships
Take your new connections to the next level by developing a partnership and initiating a new project. For example, ask one of your new connections to co-author an article with you in a career development journal. Even if you do not get published, the experience will be invaluable and you could still submit a conference proposal together. If you get accepted, this presentation will heighten both your LinkedIn profiles and future career prospects.
Follow Companies And Individuals You Are Passionate About
Do not simply follow a company because they have name recognition. Follow a company or individual that you are familiar with. For example, if you work with clients in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual (LGBTQIA) community, begin to specifically follow companies that support the hiring of these job-seekers. Follow specific individuals who communicate the messages you are drawn to. For example, follow a leader who has written a book that you have actually read and can passionately talk about.
Endorse Others Skill Sets
Making endorsements is a way to pay it forward. Endorsing skill sets shows that you support the core values of the individual’s career development profile and is a small way to begin to build a new relationship once you have connected with them.
These eight tips will help career development professionals take their LinkedIn profile to the next level. Using LinkedIn should become more than just a small daily or weekly task item. LinkedIn is a doorway to personal participation in the global economy and the marketplace of ideas in career development.
Mason Murphy, MEd, MPA, works as a Career Counselor at Texas State University. He holds a MEd in College Student Affairs, an MPA in Public Administration, and is pursuing an MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. His research interests include international students, students with disabilities, and the LGBTQIA community. firstname.lastname@example.org