And Why You Should Update Your LinkedIn Profile Now
SMITH BRAIN TRUST – What is just as important as – or arguably, more important than – your resume? Your LinkedIn profile, says Rachel Loock, a career and leadership coach at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. And that’s true even if you’re not actively looking for a job.
“It’s often the first impression people have of you professionally,” Loock says.
The networking platform has more than 260 million monthly active users, with roughly 40% of them logging in every single day. It’s heavily populated with recruiters, peers, customers, potential clients, and other professional contacts. Loock says. And that’s why it’s important to make sure your profile is always up-to-date and relevant.
“If you’re connecting with people on the platform, they might be in a position to tell you about a job or refer you for a position,” says Loock. But even if you aren’t in active job-search mode, she says, LinkedIn can help you build a network and connect with others with common professional interests.
“LinkedIn is such a great tool because it can open the door for opportunities to come your way even when you’re not considering them,” says Loock. “You may be perfectly happy in your job, but find a recruiter reaching out to you because they saw what you’ve done and because you look very competitive for a new opportunity. Make sure your page is strong and up-to-date because recruiters do proactively look for candidates that way.”
Here’s Loock’s advice on how to make sure your LinkedIn page shines as brightly as you do:
Write a strong profile, not a resume.
“Your profile summary should encapsulate your work experience at a high level and tell the story of you – your areas of expertise, where you’ve had your successes, the industries you’ve primarily worked in, as well as point to your goals and passions,” says Loock. Once you’re satisfied with the summary, be sure to list your biggest accomplishments under each role. “Your actual resume will be more complete, but I don’t recommending posting that on LinkedIn,” she says. “You don’t want your profile summary to read like a resume.”
Sell your skills.
Mention all your most relevant professional skills, especially if you’re looking for a new position. Make sure your listed skills echo the ones most in demand for the types of jobs you’d like. Cover specific hard skills, like your mastery of specific programs or the education and training required in your field, as well as the necessary soft skills needed to be an effective manager or valuable team player, says Loock.
Don’t overlook your photo.
A good, professional headshot is an important part of your profile. Don’t think you can get by with a cropped photo from a wedding, for example. And don’t use a decade-old shot, Loock warns. If you need to, stage your own photo shoot. Dress professionally or industry-appropriate, choose a neutral background and use a tripod or have friend snap a good, high-resolution headshot with your phone.
Don’t miss opportunities for connections.
Include the specifics of your education, including where you earned your degrees and when you earned them. Alumni from your alma maters can be great resources for new positions or connections. Include any continuing education you’ve completed or professional organizations where you remain active. Also be sure to specify your location. If you don’t include where you live, you could be missing valuable opportunities to connect with others in the same region.
Recommendations and endorsements on LinkedIn are nice to have and can be helpful and add value to your profile, says Loock. Ask a trusted colleague, clients, customers or a mentor to write a short testimonial that showcases your professional competence and your skills in action.
Keep it professional.
LinkedIn isn’t Facebook, Instagram or a dating site. Don’t post personal information; details about your relationships, family, health and politics are all off-limits.
You’ve heard it before, but keep all your social media profiles looking presentable, says Loock, particularly when you’re job searching. More and more, employers are scrutinizing the Twitter accounts of prospective hires, and they could come across your Facebook or Instagram accounts, even if your settings are private, if they happen to know one of your friends or followers. “Just stay away from anything offensive or controversial,” Loock says.
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