Resumes have been around for hundreds of years. A new option that supplements your resume, cover letter, and professional networking campaign is to have a presence on LinkedIn.
You may not be familiar with LinkedIn if you were employed at the same organization for many years and now you have to do a job search. LinkedIn is a social media platform designed to connect professionals and executives.
The most important aspect of LinkedIn for us right now is that it gives us a way to start networking when traditional in-person networking is not possible or very limited. It will not replace in-person networking. Instead, LinkedIn will position us to network in person during the coming months.
Our experience suggests 7 actions you should take right now to use LinkedIn:
- Create your account and start a profile,
- Write a LinkedIn headline,
- Add a headshot and background photo,
- Develop your “About” and other narrative sections,
- Always include your education,
- Get LinkedIn recommendations, and
- Remain active on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is a robust social media platform that changes constantly, so our recommendations are just a starting point. This post is not intended to be a comprehensive guide to LinkedIn.
Create your account and start a profile.
Those of us that were employed for a long time, perhaps for one organization, before the COVID shutdown may have been inactive on social media. One of the first things we recommend is that you set up an account on LinkedIn.
It will take a little time to get started. About 10 years ago, many of us pasted our resume content into the dialogue boxes on the LinkedIn profile screen.
A great resume is your starting point for a great profile. Your task will be to rewrite and expand your resume content so it takes full advantage of LinkedIn’s social media functions. LinkedIn allows enough space for some storytelling, so the profile will be more fun to write than a resume.
Write a 120-character LinkedIn headline.
The content of your LinkedIn headline is reported to get a lot of weight in LinkedIn searches. LinkedIn will create a headline for you if you do not write one because it is so important. The headline LinkedIn creates for you will include your current or most recent job title, and the organization you work for or most recently worked for. My first LinkedIn headline, for example, read, “Work Readiness Specialist at Arbor Education & Training.”
You know your personal brand and the benefits you will offer to employers so use the 120-character headline to market yourself. For example, my current headline reads “Resume & LI Profile Writer ► Certified Career Management Coach ► Job Search Consultant ★ I Advance Careers!” That says a lot more to potential clients than “Resume Writer at Resumes that Shine.”
Don’t despair if you do not know what to write at this point. Prepare the rest of your profile and then return to this step.
Add a headshot and background photo to your profile.
Images are important because LinkedIn is social media. LinkedIn says that profiles with headshots receive 27 times more views than other profiles.
This step is uncomfortable for those of us that write traditional resumes because the rule-of-thumb is to never include a photo. We want to be considered on our merits, not because we are the minority candidate, or the female candidate. Nonetheless, we recommend including your headshot on LinkedIn because it greatly increases the chance you will be found in searches.
The background photo can be used along with your headline to emphasize your brand. One of my clients uses a photo related to a product he developed at his company. I use one of my certification logos.
Develop your 2000-character “About” section and other narrative sections.
LinkedIn allows us to write more than we can on a resume. For example, the About section, formerly called the Summary allows for 2,000 characters of narrative. You can also write up to 2,000 characters for each job in your Experience section. That means your About section should include more information than your resume summary.
You should also write LinkedIn narrative in a conversational, social media style. The About section, for example, should read more like an engaging verbal one-minute pitch than a resume summary.
The descriptions for your recent jobs can be written in a similar way. Be conversational and include more detailed accomplishment statements than you would include on your resume.
Always include your education.
It is especially important to include your education on the profile. LinkedIn tries to connect you with graduates of your school, especially when you include your year of graduation. Recruiters also search for schools that their client companies want to hire from. LinkedIn has a large database of schools, so look for a suggested match between the database and your school name.
Some LinkedIn specialists insist that job-seekers should always include their years of graduation on their profile to get the full advantage of alumni connections. I recommend consistency between your resume and profile. In other words, if you graduated recently, and have the graduation date on the resume, you should include the graduation date on your profile. It is a tradeoff worth making to reduce the potential for age bias.
Get LinkedIn recommendations.
An interesting feature of LinkedIn is that you can ask your connections to write recommendations for you that will appear on your profile. LinkedIn recommendations offer “social proof” of your expertise to prospective employers.
My profile includes a mix of recommendations from team members at past jobs and clients of my current business. I write return recommendations when appropriate.
Remain active on LinkedIn.
It is important to remain active on LinkedIn after you set up your profile. Post an item of industry news or other professional information about once a week. You can also write an article and publish it on LinkedIn.
Another way to generate activity on LinkedIn is to be active in relevant groups. Start by joining the LinkedIn alumni group for your school, and groups for past employers. Then participate in conversations on the groups.
We have only scratched the surface on LinkedIn. There are many more sections you can fill in on your profile, and many settings that help us control who can see what details on your profile. The important thing right now is that LinkedIn gives us all the opportunity to make initial contact with prospective networking contacts and employers that we can meet in person after the crisis. It is also a powerful way to keep in touch with colleagues from former jobs that we would lose contact with otherwise.
Still confused? Use our free consultation link to speak with us. Send me questions. I will respond in the comments and in future blog posts.