Signing up for an account on LinkedIn, the popular professional social networking site, is the easy part. The hard part is making the best use of it.
More and more employers are searching for employees through LinkedIn, making the popular social networking site a necessary evil for those looking for jobs here and abroad. Many people make the mistake of ignoring their profiles and letting them sit online with only a name and a couple words. If you have one of these lazy profiles, it's better to stay off LinkedIn than to leave a bad online impression. So instead of letting your profile marinate, here are some steps you can take to improve your online presence.
Step 1: Profile Picture
Upload a good profile picture. If you don't have a professional-looking picture, obtain one. Dress in your finest clothes, place yourself in front of an unobtrusive background, and ask someone to take a picture of you. It will be the first thing others see when they search for your name.
People often make the common mistake of keeping their profile picture hidden from public view. Make sure everyone who searches for you can see your profile picture by changing your photo visibility to "everyone". You can check what your profile looks like to other people by clicking the big blue "view profile as" button in the headline section.
Step 2: Headline
After people see your photo in the search results, the headline is the next thing they look at. The headline includes your main job description, education, and location. Make your position titles catchy and representative of your actual job duties. If you have multiple jobs and fields of study, mention them all in your headline. One tip: if you write the general field you're in instead of your current job position, you won't have to update your headline every time you change jobs.
Step 3: Summary
In the "Summary" section, write a paragraph or two that summarizes who you are and what you wish to do with your career. Include your main passions, concentrations and skill sets, but stay away from clichéd descriptions like "passionate" and "motivated". Be as personal as possible, but keep the text short, simple, and concise. Recruiters are not looking for your entire life story.
Step 4: Experience
In the "Experience" section, add your job descriptions just as you would on a resume. But remember, LinkedIn can do much more for you than a one-page paper resume. At the end of each job description, you can provide links to online media, such as photos, videos, and presentations. If you've created any interesting projects during internships or jobs, the "Experience" section is the place to highlight them.
Step 5: Connect
LinkedIn is a social networking site, which means you should do more than just fiddle with your profile. Be proactive and interact with other people. Reach out to friends or old classmates in the "people you may know" section and connect with them. Endorsing your LinkedIn "friends" will encourage them in turn to endorse you. Also take advantage of LinkedIn's news feed, which tends to be more informative and career-oriented than the "viral videos" that bombard you on Facebook.
Congratulations! Once you have laid down the basic foundation for your profile, all you have to do is build upon it. Don't obsess over your account like you would on Facebook, but check it once in a while. If you have time to upload selfies on Facebook, you definitely have time to invest in your career on LinkedIn.