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Seven Ways to Make LinkedIn Help You Find A Job

Posted by | May 5, 2015 | Career, Job Search

Via Forbes : Now that LinkedIn is 12 years old and has more than 300 million members, most professionals have figured out how to set up a profile and build connections. But with ever-increasing numbers of hiring managers and recruiters using the site to hunt for job candidates and potential employers routinely checking LinkedIn before they make hiring decisions, it’s worth reviewing your profile to make sure it does you the most good. Here are seven basic steps you can take to make your LinkedIn profile more powerful.

1. Customize your URL. Your URL (uniform resource locator) is the address of your LinkedIn page on the Web. Customizing it will drive it toward the top of a Google search on your name. Put your cursor over “Profile” at the top of your homepage and select “Edit Profile.” Click the little wheel to the right of the URL link under your profile photo. That will bring you to a page where you can edit your URL. If you have an uncommon name, you can probably just plug in your first and last name. If that’s already taken, try your last name first, followed by your first name. If that’s taken, try adding a middle initial or a city abbreviation like “NYC.” Though I did this some time ago, I have a common name so I wound up writing a URL that’s my first name, middle initial (C) and last name, no punctuation and no spaces. This appears after the following: “linkedin.com/in/.”

2. Write a crisp, detailed summary of your career. Shoot for between 100 and 300 words, and try to tell a compelling story that includes specifics and quantifiable achievements. Use keywords and phrases you would find in a job description that would interest you. For me, this means listing the topics I cover and emphasizing the kinds of stories I most like writing and editing. Also, because a headhunter might consider me for a job in media training, since I have broadcast experience, at the end of my summary I’ve added the phrase, “I’m interested in media training.”

3. Flesh out the experience section. This is your chance to write an online résumé. Many people only include their current job. Take the time to list the significant jobs that built your career. You don’t need to be exhaustive. In my experience section, I left off two jobs I had long ago, one as a support staffer at a PR firm in San Francisco and another as an administrative assistant at a public interest law firm in Washington, D.C. I was a glorified secretary in each of those jobs. Not that there’s anything wrong with that but the jobs are only tangentially related to what I’m doing now, and they are ancient history (They aren’t on my résumé either.).
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4. List your skills. Below Experience and Education you’ll find “Skills & Expertise.” LinkedIn introduced this feature in Feb. 2011, so if you created your profile before then, as I did, you may have never fleshed this out. Take a minimum of 10 minutes and do it. This section offers a shorthand way to tell potential employers what you can do. It also gives your connections the chance to “endorse” you for those skills, an option since Sept. 2012. I wrote a separate piece about LinkedIn endorsements. The bottom line is that, while some of us find that this feature can be annoying and meaningless (I was mystified when someone endorsed me for “celebrity,” whatever that means), endorsements are here to stay, so you might as well take the trouble to make sure they reflect your strengths. Using your cursor to drag the labels, order them with your most important skill at the top of the list.

5. Get at least five recommendations. I wrote a separate article about recommendations here. In brief, though they can seem repetitive and gratuitous, they can also be helpful because not only do they show up on your LinkedIn page, they also appear on the page of the recommendation writer, and his or her connections can all read them. Also, recruiters do read them. Like your career summary, recommendations should include meaty specifics about skills and accomplishments. In the world of LinkedIn, it’s acceptable to offer to draft a recommendation for the person you’re asking to recommend you. (Admission: I haven’t practiced what I preach; I only have one recommendation, which a friend volunteered to write after I did her a favor and guest-taught her class at Columbia, but I know I should ask colleagues and former colleagues to write them.)

6. Add websites and publications that showcase your work. For a journalist, this is easier than for other types of workers, since our writing gets posted online with ready Web addresses. For a designer or photographer, this is an opportunity to include a link to a personal website, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest or other accounts.

7. Connect. Connections are the backbone of your LinkedIn profile, and what gives you the strength to network. For instance, if you’re interested in working for Company X and you see that one of your connections has a contact there, you can ask your connection to make an introduction to that contact for you. This happened to me when a friend who was living in Abu Dhabi was exploring a job at a money management firm in New York where I had a connection. I was happy to reach out to my former Forbes colleague who works there and put her in touch.

There are different views on how aggressively you should increase your list of connections. Maybe because I’m a journalist and PR people chase me, I get frequent invitations to connect with people I don’t know and wouldn’t dream of networking with in real life. LinkedIn professionals recommend you ask yourself the following questions: Do I know the person in a professional or personal context, and would I want to connect with the person on professional matters, face to face? Would I be willing to ask that person for an introduction, and would I be willing to make one for them, if they asked?

On the other hand, some people think you should connect with as many people as possible because of the compound effect of multiple connections. Forbes contributor Dan Schawbel has written a compelling argument here. He says that you appear more influential and more powerful to others if you have more than 500 connections, and if you’re including a blog on your LinkedIn page, you can drive more traffic if you have a long list of connections. I’ve also discovered that, as a journalist, it’s useful to have as many connections as possible, in case I am hunting down people to interview for a story. I now accept all invitations.

When you send a request, always override the canned “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn,” and write a personal note, even if it’s a brief, “hey, want to connect?” Better yet, put a few minutes of effort into your request. No one likes to receive a form letter.

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