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YOUR JOB SEARCH: How To Craft A Powerful Linkedin Profile | Part 1

YOUR JOB SEARCH: How To Craft A Powerful Linkedin Profile | Part 1

As you approach your job search (and manage your career going forward), LinkedIn will be the most powerful of all of your job search tools. It is the most widely used professional social networking website in the world. Just about every company recruiter uses it to find candidates on a daily basis, hiring managers are on it, other people in your new career path are on it. Read on for how to make the most of this valuable tool.

The Power of LinkedIn

LinkedIn is incredibly powerful for a few reasons:

It contains your content: It contains your experience and portfolio that is designed to be found -- and you control your content and narrative on the platform.

People can find you: Unlike a resume, it is a dynamic website. A resume requires that you send it to someone via email or application. Your Linkedin profile is designed to be found by others. People can reach out to you directly about an opening in their company.

You can find other people: Much like companies can find you, Linkedin can give you access to people that work at your target companies. 

You can apply to jobs: Linkedin has become a robust job listing site, with thousands of new jobs posted daily. 

You can research: The Linkedin platform allows you to stay current, research various topics, and earn various skills.

Your Story, Brand, Narrative

Your profile should display your brand and a narrative that tells the story of your career journey thus far, your expertise, what motivates you, and a little bit about what makes you unique (personally, and as a professional). Beyond being dynamic, your LinkedIn profile allows you to customize and personalize your messaging you send to recruiters and hiring managers. Take advantage of this opportunity to demonstrate your abilities and achievements and character. Please see this blog post to help craft your own narrative.

Forward-Facing, Relevant and Concise

Like your resume, relevancy and being concise are important when deciding what content goes into your profile. Ask yourself, “How is this particular piece of content relevant to the jobs for which I will apply? Will hiring managers care about this particular content?” Especially in the experience section, content is really about showing achievement and expertise. Interests and hobbies have their own sections and do not belong in your content section. 

Granted, many people will be reviewing your profile, and each person/company will likely have their own priorities when making decisions on whether or not to interview you. As you refine your job search focus, you should be able to gain insight into what your target companies are generally looking for. Industries aside, your prospective employers are likely targeting similar experience and skills if you are applying to similar jobs. This is your target, and your profile should speak to your target.

Focus On Engaging Recruiters and Hiring Managers

If you are switching careers, be extra mindful of your content -- ensure you are speaking the language of industry professionals. Highlight an experience that is most relevant (and omit experiences that are not relevant), and demonstrate that you are capable of doing their work. For example, if you are applying for jobs in data science (and you have not had a job as a data scientist), think about what the key skills, attributes, and competencies that hiring managers seek are. Hiring managers will hire people that have strong capabilities in harvesting, organizing and  manipulating information to find patterns, and analyzing and developing theories about how to solve problems. Chances are you have done similar work in your previous experience and/or projects. Develop and publish content that highlights achievements in those areas.

How To Craft A Powerful Linkedin Profile | Part 1 by SoloLearn

Deeper Exploration of Linkedin: All Of Its Parts

Your LinkedIn profile is where most of your content (pictures, titles, about section, skills, experience, etc) lives, and what most resembles a traditional resume. In this article, we will explore the various parts and functionality of your profile, and how to quickly fill in your content. In part 2 of this article, we will dive into fine tuning and optimizing your profile to gain more attention.  

Pictures

It is important to have a profile that both looks professional and also allows for some of your personality and character to shine through. LinkedIn does not require that you upload a profile picture, but headshots are appropriate for your profile picture. Studies show that humans find a friendly disposition more appealing, and thus more likely to engage with individuals who look approachable in their photos.

In the same way that you should smile, act friendly, and be yourself during the interview process, your first impression starts with your profile and its images. LinkedIn will also allow you to include a background picture behind your profile picture to customize your look. You can choose from a few provided design options, or upload your own. Your background should not detract from the rest of your profile, and should support the brand/image that you intend to portray to prospective employers. 

Contact Information

How will people contact you? The contact information section is where you fill in details about how you would prefer users find you outside of LinkedIn. You can control who sees this information and how much they see. If your intention is to network openly, and have people outside of your network contact you with job opportunities, open up your preferences so that everyone can see your contact information. LinkedIn provides the opportunity to list your website, email(s), Twitter, blog, and phone number.  

About (Summary)

This field is blank until you write text in it. Much like a summary from your resume, here is where you introduce your professional experience. If you already have a summary from your resume, start by pasting that summary in this field, and optimizing it once you have completed your profile. You can also include your email and/or phone number here, so that anyone can contact you. 

Featured

This is a relatively new section in LinkedIn that allows you to highlight content, media, and/or achievements that demonstrate ability and success. This section is prime real estate, as anything posted to this section appears above your work experience. This content helps demonstrate your skills and bolsters your brand. If you have published a LinkedIn article or other thought leadership piece that you would like to highlight, here is your opportunity to showcase it. Copy and paste your article URL in this field to embed the article and image. This is an optional field, so LinkedIn will allow you to move to the next section without entering information. 

Background

Historically, LinkedIn called this section “Experience”. This is the most essential section of LinkedIn as it has your Experience, Education, Licenses and Certifications, and Volunteer Experiences. 

Work experience is self explanatory. Add here each of your current and past work stints along with employment dates. LinkedIn will automatically tile the jobs in chronological order (according to the dates you input), so there is no way to rearrange your jobs in a different order. To start, copy and paste your bullet points from your resume into this section. LinkedIn does not allow you to type a bullet point, but it will accept a bullet point if it is copied and pasted from your resume. 

Education is where you input all of your education experience. College, graduate degrees, bootcamps are all acceptable forms of education. It will prompt you to add a graduation date for each, but it is not required. Leaving out the date makes it more difficult for recruiters to guess your age. In the United States, it is illegal for companies to discriminate in hiring based on your age. Ageism is often difficult to detect, let alone enforce, so best not to put that information out there. 

License and Certifications is another section where you can show employers that you have upgraded your skills. These might be essential qualifiers for your target jobs, or it might show your intent to specialize. Do put the dates for these here, especially if they were completed recently. Doing so shows that you have the latest skills, and since some licenses or certifications expire over time, it is important to show that you are up to date.  

Volunteer Section: Employers often seek candidates that demonstrate character, teamwork, collaboration, and values and have a personal mission that matches that of their company. Volunteer experience is a great way to demonstrate all of the above. If you have volunteer experience, add it to this section. It will get noticed, and potentially become a talking point when you interview with your target companies. 

Skills (& Endorsements): Add all of your hard skills to this section. Now is a great time to take inventory of all of the skills that you have learned and practiced in your career. Review your resume to ensure that you include all of the skills you have used in the past. Add the new skills that you have recently learned and are in the process of learning. Adding a skill does not indicate mastery, so include all skills, even if you only hold basic familiarity with that skill.  

Look at job postings of your target career. Almost all job postings include a required (and sometimes nice-to-have) skills section. After reviewing 4-5 job postings, how does this list compare with your list? Did you forget to add some skills to your Linkedin profile? What does your skills gap look like--are there more skills that you need to learn for your job search? Add them to your learning queue! 

One of the least understood features of LinkedIn involves endorsements, which allows others in your LinkedIn network to “endorse” you for skills listed in this section. Hiring managers and recruiters are unlikely to pay much attention to endorsements, as they carry little, if any weight. However, having no endorsements is notable in a negative way, so do solicit a few endorsements from your network and move on.  

Achievements: Publications, Patents, Courses, Projects, Honors & Awards, Test Scores, Languages, Organizations, are packed into this section. All of these help build your credibility as a working professional, so let’s dive in. 

If you have published articles on or offline, this is the place to list those publications. These will be important for positions that require expertise/knowledge in a given area, research, or that emphasizes written skills. 

The Courses section is another opportunity to boost your ability to be found by recruiters when they perform keyword searches on LinkedIn. List all relevant classes and completed coursework here. Often relevant courses contain keywords that boost your SEO efforts so that you appear higher in keywords searches. 

The Projects section is somewhat buried in your profile, but it still represents a good place to park information regarding your relevant coursework. Displaying your projects is a great way to show employers your passion for your work and gives them a glimpse into your personal interests outside of work. Projects often represent your ability to apply relevant skills, especially if you are not currently employed in your target field. 

Linkedin allows you to post links/URLs to your work. To do so, consider hosting your projects in an open repo (Github/StackOverflow) so that hiring managers can review your project in-depth and evaluate the quality of your code. You must do a little work to review and clean your code so that it is ready for prime time. If your project is something that can be demoed or demonstrated, you might also consider hosting it on a website so that interested parties may be able to tinker with it and see it in action. Once the URL is embedded, LinkedIn will assign a random graphic with your URL -- you can customize the image by adding your own picture or graphic that better represents your project. 

You can also add projects to the Experience section of LinkedIn. If you are switching careers and have completed projects that are relevant to your job target, you should strongly consider posting your projects in the Experience section. Employers care mostly about your ability to do the work they might ask you to do for them, and the best way for them to do that is to evaluate relevant work. If your projects are more relevant than previous work experience, adding projects to the top of your profile may keep the recruiter’s attention longer than not doing so. Be careful not to misrepresent your project as paid experience, and name it appropriately. If you are a student and you have completed a thesis or capstone project, this is a good strategy to attract more attention to your candidacy. 

Additional Information: Your recommendations support your candidacy in that your network is able to speak to the value of your work. Each person recommending your work should have direct knowledge of the responsibilities, scope, and achievements of current or previous work or  academic experience. Professors/instructors, Teaching Assistants, Managers, and Co-Workers are all people that are able to provide details about the work you have done. You can invite someone to recommend you on Linkedin when you are in edit mode for this section. If you are not connected to that person on Linkedin, it will require you to enter the person's email to send the invitation. 

Most employers will ask for 3 references (people that can recommend you) before finalizing their offer for employment. If you have not already organized a minimum of three people that can speak on your behalf, you need to sift through your network and line up at least three recommendations ahead of your potential offer. Employers typically request names, contact info, and your relationship to the person when requesting references.  

In the next post, we will do a deeper dive into how to optimize your profile based on content and keyword SEO. Once your content is complete and optimized, we can walk through the functionality and features that will allow you to effectively use the most powerful job search tool. Become a LinkedIn power user!

In his over 20 year career, James Van has helped thousands find their next job. James began his career as a technical recruiter in Silicon Valley and San Francisco. After nine years of recruiting, James completed his Masters in Counselor Education at San Jose State University and transitioned into career counseling and coaching. James has supported the career growth of his students at institutions such as UC Berkeley, Hult International Business School, and Galvanize. He recently joined SoloLearn , a self-paced earn-to-code platform providing excellent technical instruction. In his personal hours, James enjoys spending his time with his family, windsurfing, surfing, and cycling.