Adapting Your LinkedIn Profile When You’re Job Searching
Don’t overlook LinkedIn when you’re searching for a job. An increasing number of recruiters and hiring managers are using the popular professional social network to search for job candidates. In addition to searching for a job, you can also use LinkedIn to help potential employers find you by modifying your LinkedIn profile to complement their search for a qualified candidate.
First things first: Before you start overhauling your LinkedIn profile, go to “Settings” and turn off activity broadcasts. This will spare your connections from hearing about each individual change you make — but remember to turn the setting back on after you’ve finished your updates! While you’re tinkering with settings, make sure the resume section of your profile is public and make it so if it isn’t already.
Now you’re ready to begin with your profile “Headline.” This descriptive text appears right below your name in LinkedIn search results. If you don’t create your own headline, it will default to your current employment status. Think of your headline as your public tag-line and make sure it reflects the job you’re looking for rather than simply stating you’re unemployed. Include a specific job title that employers and recruiters might type in when they do a search.
The next area to rework is the “Summary” section of your profile. While you’re in job search mode, this section should serve the same purpose as a cover letter does for a resume. Keep it brief, since most employers and recruiters will scan it quickly before moving on to read about your experience. Highlight accomplishments and results from previous jobs that will capture the reader’s interest and make them want to keep on reading. Include a strong statement about your professional goals and keywords relevant to your industry that recruiters or hiring managers would be searching for.
Next, update the “Experience” section of your profile. In addition to listing your previous employers, provide short descriptions of your professional responsibilities and accomplishments at each job. Again, assume the reader may be skimming and only include major talking points that will really sell you to an employer. Instead of using positive adjectives to describe yourself, emphasize quantifiable outcomes, such as sales you achieved or other milestones.
Skills & Expertise
The “Skills & Expertise” section of your profile is a good place to use strategic keywords that are related to your industry. This will help make your profile discoverable to potential employers who are searching for candidates. The LinkedIn profile also allows you to add projects, publications, organizations and certifications. Include these sections if you have useful content and, again, make use of industry keywords. If you’ve completed industry-related coursework or training beyond a professional degree, add a courses section to your profile as well. This is also a good idea if you’re a recent graduate and are short on professional experience. In this case, highlight your most valuable college courses that were related to the profession where you’re seeking employment and include any information on practical projects you may have completed during those courses.
Finally, include one or two recent recommendations. Many recruiters say that the “who” of a recommendation is just as important as what they say, so try to get a management-level reference from your previous employer or a reference from someone who is well placed in your industry. If you are a recent graduate, reaching out to a former professor who is involved in the industry you seek to work in may also be a wise move.
Before you make your changes public, make sure that your profile is grammatically correct and free of spelling errors. Like a resume, your LinkedIn profile will determine a potential employer’s first impression of your qualifications and skills. Don’t let a bad online impression ruin your chances for a job!
After you’re reworked your LinkedIn profile for your job search, visit the site on a regular basis to search for job leads and update your activities. Network with as many professionals in your industry as possible and try to connect with them on LinkedIn. Do everything you can to give the impression that you are connected and involved, and not just sitting idle while you wait for a job to come your way.
Sarah Fudin currently works as an inbound marketing manager for George Washington University’s online MPH degree, which provides prospective students the ability to earn a Masters in Public Health online. Outside of work Sarah enjoys running, reading and Pinkberry frozen yogurt.