As someone who works in communication, I’m constantly reminded how important my social media presence is to my career, and also my personal brand. Heck, in a recent post, I even mentioned this fact to interns looking for their next internship.
Being active on social media allows people to get to know your interests and skills, and it opens the doors for opportunities that aren’t always available within the constraints of face-to-face connections.
But oftentimes, people focus in on the big names in social media – Facebook and Twitter – failing to remember that when it comes to growing professionally, LinkedIn can be your best bet, and is a crucial aspect for the modern day job hunt.
According to a 2013 social recruiting survey by Jobvite, companies use LinkedIn as a primary recruiting network, and 92% of the 1,600 companies surveyed have hired directly from the site. So it baffles me when I hear friends and colleagues mention that they either don’t have a LinkedIn account, or have not kept their profile up-to-date.
To me that is unacceptable – whether you are looking to expand your network, or find a new job, LinkedIn can be one of the best online resources available – so why not take full advantage?
Here are five ways to maximize your LinkedIn profile professionally:
1. Make it complete. Sure, when you first create a profile, LinkedIn gives you the option to upload your resume, but you shouldn’t stop there. Write in a summary that is both informative and upbeat – don’t just say you’re looking for a job; instead, grab attention. Use that opportunity to explain your skills, highlight a key success or showcase your passion for your industry.
Furthermore, make sure to fill in as many details as possible and include keywords that describe your experience and skills. The more information you provide, the more likely your profile is to come up in search results.
2. Get recommendations. Earlier this year, LinkedIn gave people the ability to endorse a connection for a particular skill. Endorsements on LinkedIn are good, but they will never take the place of traditional recommendations. Potential employers want to know what sets you apart from other peers, so don’t be shy about displaying that.
Ask former supervisors, mentors, or professors to post short recommendations that speak to a special skill set or character attribute that you possess.
3. Update, update, update. Many people forget that LinkedIn has similar capabilities as Facebook and Twitter in that you can post updates. How LinkedIn differs from the other two is that these updates are typically used to share industry relevant content.
You should aim to post an update one to two times per week. This will help build you an active presence on the platform, and will help establish you as a thought leader in a particular space (which can result in jobs or potential interest down the line).
4. Join groups. There are millions of different groups on LinkedIn – you should try to be in at least 10 that interest you. Personally, I’ve found LinkedIn groups to be a fantastic way to develop relationships with people that share a similar interest, and to further my own knowledge on a particular subject.
Some members even use group pages to publicize company job openings, so being a part of several different groups is an ideal way to know what opportunities are available without actively seeking them out.
Tip: If you respond to a job that was posted in a LinkedIn group, and the company recognizes your name through your thoughtful engagement online, you will often be asked in for at least one round of interviews.
5. Go Premium. If you are serious about making connections via LinkedIn or using it for an active job search, their Premium version might be of value. For $19.95, you have the ability to send InMail messages, see who viewed your profile, and move your profile to the top of recruitment lists.
While it’s not a fit for every LinkedIn member, it certainly has its recruitment advantages. Otherwise, I feel confident saying that traditional engagement on LinkedIn proves to be sufficiently successful.
By making simple updates to your LinkedIn profile, and treating it almost like a “professional Facebook,” you’ll begin to see an increase in networking opportunities and interview requests.
Rachael Genson is an Account Executive at INK in Austin, Texas. Tweet her at @rmgenson.