Social media has certainly been a game-changer in today’s competitive job market, and LinkedIn is a very important part of a candidate’s virtual representation of their career accomplishments. With over 135 million members and two new accounts signing up per second, LinkedIn is becoming an ever more important professional networking and job search tool. If you think having a stellar resume is the way recruiters or future employers will evaluate and vet you as a candidate, think again. Your resume, while still a key requirement when seeking a new employer, is only part of the hiring equation. I’m baffled when I talk to an outstanding candidate who has an incomplete LinkedIn profile or a profile that's… let’s just say is less than flattering.
Try to avoid (at all cost) falling into the “disqualified” category and make sure your Linkedin profile does not negatively impact your ability to land a new gig. Here are some tips from someone (that’d be me) who looks at hundreds of profiles every week:
Profile Photo– Stay away from unflattering photos of you having a beer with friends. It's just not smart. Also, lose the outdated (by 20+ years) photo of yourself in your attempt to convince the world that you’ve found the Fountain of Youth. Most importantly, use a photo of yourself – not some silly cartoon avatar. We live and work in a professional world so make sure your photo is current and represents your professional self! It’s fine to have a casual photo of yourself as long as it is in good taste.
Work History– Make sure your work history is an accurate mirror image of your resume, especially in terms of its chronology of the Who, What and Where you’ve been during your career. Make sure any between-careers gaps are reflected with a consulting role (if you've had one). If you took a sabbatical, it's ok to list that both on your resume and LI profile. Be accurate and disclose, disclose, disclose…
Contact Info– There is a section in your profile that gives the reader Advice for Contacting you. Make sure you use that field to input your e-mail address. The actual place to input your e-mail on your profile may vary depending on your LI subscription – but find a way to make your e-mail visible.
Interested In- If you want to be contacted about new job opportunities, LI has a specific place for you to “Opt In”. This section gives those sending an InMail way to contact you that matches the things you are most interested in. For example: Tim is interested in: Career Opportunities, Consulting Offers, New Ventures, Job Inquiries, Expertise Requests, Business Deals, Reference Requests, and Getting Back in Touch. If you turn this feature OFF, you are also limiting people from contacting you. Make sure you understand the importance of this feature.
Stay Current- Make sure your latest role and title are current with where you are today. So many candidates start a new job with a new organization, new title, new geography and perhaps more responsibility and forget to update their LI profile to reflect the changes. Make sure you check your profile for accuracy, and add any new content including educational courses or certificates you’ve earned.
Recommendations/Endorsements– This becomes important when a recruiter or hiring manager has a relationship or knows the person who wrote your recommendation, whether it's personal or through the HCIT industry. Make sure people who write a recommendation for you have actually been an eyewitness to your work! Having no recommendations… it’s not recommended!
Hope this helps.