By Annie Rosemurgy | Illustrated by Ann Christianson
Whether you’re looking for a new job, building a brand, networking or trying to increase your business’ visibility, LinkedIn is the most important social media platform for professionals. “LinkedIn identified an unmet need within social networking—that critical juncture of creating a digital space for job seekers and employers to connect,” says UW Department of Communications professor Debra Pierce.
With more than 11 million active job listings and 500 million users LinkedIn is a living, breathing record of your professional life. Here, we explore ways to put your best foot forward and optimize this powerful professional tool.
Build it and they will come—creating a powerhouse profile
“Start with some introspective work,” says Don Stanley, faculty associate in life science communication at UW-Madison. “Ask yourself what really motivates you and communicate that clearly in your profile. If something is very important to you, like working for a business that has a mission for social good, say that specifically.”
Maximize first impressions, Pierce advises. “You have just a few seconds for your profile to capture the attention of recruiters, with use of a professional looking headshot, a clear job title and intro summary. So, it’s worth it to invest a few bucks into having a headshot professionally done.”
Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through in your profile. “Give us a sense of who you are as a person, Stanley says. “Instead of saying the generic ‘data analyst’ you might say
‘I’m a total geek for the numbers.’”
Resist underselling yourself! “Maybe you were an administrative assistant by title but what you actually did at a previous job went far beyond that,” Stanley gives as an example. “People re-entering the workforce in particular can get hung up on lack of experience when they actually have so many transferable skills.” Identify the skills you developed at previous gigs, and don’t be afraid to let your talents shine.
Pro tips—become a next level site master
“Once you have a rocking profile, you can leverage the full benefits of the platform by following companies and industries you are interested in, engaging with potential employers as their posts populate your feed, setting up job alerts and even applying directly for jobs,” Pierce says.
Curate your content. “Video attracts the most attention by a long shot,” Stanley says. Shooting and editing short videos is a skill he emphasizes in his classes at UW. “Don’t get stressed out if you’re not sure exactly how to do it. Relax and play with it.”
Worried about oversharing? “In general, if it’s work you’re proud of and is relevant to your career path, share it,” recommends Stanley. “Trust your gut when it comes to volume.”
And, as always, manners matter. “Be authentic in interactions and don’t reach out blindly. Follow people at companies that you find interesting, engage with their content and comment thoughtfully, lay the groundwork…That personal touch can make all the difference,” Stanley says.