Your LinkedIn Profile is Now your Resume on Steroids

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If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile as a college student or as a professional you don’t really exist in the professional ecosystem.  Having a LinkedIn profile is more important than a resume because chances are your resume will get less than 3 seconds of attention.  This might sound dramatic but the people reviewing applicant resumes from job postings on company career sites, job boards or any other resource are reviewing some many unqualified candidates that they only have time to skim for keywords or phrases that match their job requirements. The recruiters usually tasked with reviewing resumes are not experts on the roles they screen for but are usually junior-level tasked with resume reviews to feed a more senior recruiter who completes the initial screen of the applicant. The chances of your resume ending up in the virtual trash is high unless you hit enough of those specific keywords or phrases. Scary to think your career hinges on your ability to stand out in 3 seconds from information on 2 pages that someone evaluates with no expertise in your industry.   This is where the power of your LinkedIn profile and network on LinkedIn can shift the power dynamic in your favor.



LinkedIn wants to help you get a new job and wants you to network on their database but you’ve got to own it. LinkedIn has 562+ million users (146 million in the United States), and only a tiny fraction of those people are relevant to you, so you need to find – and get found by – the right ones. So how do you make that happen?

Build a Profile That Works for You 24/7. The first step is building or updating your profile.  If you don’t have a profile then check out my previous posting about creating a LinkedIn profile, most of this post is geared toward updating underperforming or old profiles.  Research shows that adding a photo will increase your profile’s traffic by a factor of 10x.  A professional picture humanizes you and helps people make a visual connection with you, like it or not visual engagement goes a long way to people making connections and that is the world we live in. Find or create an in-focus headshot of yourself dressed appropriately for what you do, smiling, and making eye contact with the camera. refrain from cropping a picture with someone’s shoulder or random body part in the frame, looks amateurish and unprofessional.

As far as what your profile should actually say, think of it as an online resume. As you scan job listings, note keywords you see repeatedly, things like “customer-centric” and “relationship building.” I even recommend editing your profile for keywords for specific jobs you are applying for.  Recruiters and Headhunters search candidates’ LinkedIn profiles by title, keywords, and skill sets, so you want to make sure your language reflects theirs.  Be specific in what you do, highlight what your company does if your company is small or unknown but balance the amount of information on your company with what your role is there.  No one is hiring your company but recruiters are more likely to engage with you if they understand what you do at your company and what your company does in general.

Your Title: Your first opportunity to work in important keywords is with the 120-character job title that appears under your name, aka, the headline. Doesn’t have to be your literal title, especially if your title doesn’t adequately describe what you do. Don’t lie but be descriptive and use language that is easily understood outside your industry, avoid jargon or acronyms that limit outsiders understanding. Don’t be scared to use multiple titles that are related without looking like you are a jack of all trades and master of none.

Your Summary: The summary section is your 2-minute elevator pitch on who you are and what you do, you should think of this as your answer to “what do you do?” at a cocktail party.  Make it unique, descriptive, and short, and leave the reader wanting more.  Highlight your skills and be specific about accomplishments, awards, and other recognition. Use industry of job hot-button terms, but don’t just stuff the summary full of unrelated keywords or jargon. Write in the first person, let your personality shine through, and add be memorable. Don’t be too wordy, if you use the entire space, you run the risk of appearing both boring and old, we live in a bite-sized world with micro-second attention spans, write accordingly.

REMINDER: LinkedIn will notify your contacts when you make changes to your profile,  make sure you turn off the “Notify my network” function found in the right-hand column on your Profile page. Otherwise, you run the risk of annoying your contacts with a continuous stream of insignificant updates. When you are done with your updates, turn it back on and let everyone know!

Stay Engaged. Visit LinkedIn’s home page at least once a day and see what others are posting to stay current in your industry. Like and comment on those posts to be seen as an industry knowledge leader. After you have a feel for what’s trending, begin adding items yourself every day or so. The easiest way to do this is to find interesting articles, stories, photos, and videos that involve your profession and make intelligent comments.  Be sure to balance your comments and engagement to be relevant without being annoying, This is a professional network so recommend minimizing personal Facebook-like posts or comments.  I recommend evaluating your posts and comments as if your boss our company leadership now and in the future would be the first to see them.  Always error on the side caution.  When in doubt wait 24 hours before posting and reevaluating, things on the internet are never really deleted.

Use Multi-Media. LinkedIn has made sharing photos, videos, white papers, portfolios, and/or reports easier.  Multimedia will engage those in your industry and give you more credibility quicker.  Post your work itself, especially if you are a visual or performing artist, culinary pro, or contractor. (Be mindful of client confidentiality and copyrights, of course.) Won an award or doing some volunteer work, snap a photo and share that.  Keep it professional, your lunch is not relevant.

Asking for Help. LinkedIn is a professional network and you should use that network to engage people who have the ability to connect you to decision-makers or provide you with information.  Don’t be reluctant to ask for help in your job search if you think he or she can be of assistance, that’s what LinkedIn is for.  Be direct in your request for help, identify what you are trying to accomplish, how they can help, and what you could provide in trade should they be interested.  Not everyone is able to help because of time constraints, maybe they are not comfortable with the request or maybe they don’t want to help, that is their prerogative.  You can always find other ways to get what you need to be done, be professional, and say thank you.

You Reap What You Sow. Stay engaged with your network beyond just when you need something.  Send short notes to people to comment on new positions, birthdays, job anniversaries and other accomplishments via the Keep in Touch section in the Connections channel. It’s important to reinforce your connections with LinkedIn contacts; a network of people you barely know or never engage with is less likely to make any effort to help you when you ask. Flip side of the coin you need to make the effort to help those in your network if you expect them to help you when you are in need.  Treat others on LinkedIn like you want to be treated.

LinkedIn is a Very Deep Rabbit Hole.  Even if there’s no job that matches the exact criteria you’ve entered in the Jobs search, so, sometimes that is a good thing. LinkedIn is good at suggesting companies that might have a suitable opening but the research is on you, luckily it’s easy.  Think about where you want to work, location/geography then what companies are located in that city, then identify who the top employers are in that city and start creating lists of target companies. Next do those companies you are interested in have jobs that match your skill set, open roles, or not?  Then who is in those roles?  Once you have a short list of target companies where your ideal job resides reach out to those people in the department to connect.  What LinkedIn groups do they belong to, do you belong to, if not join?   

If you swim in the same pond as others in your industry or role the greater your network and the higher the chance you have for other opportunities. On LinkedIn, you create your network and that network will be the universe that you engage the most so put the time in to reap the reward.

LinkedIn has enormous amounts of background information available on companies. This info will help you identify target companies, learn about company culture, and company structure and provide you with the foundational information you will use during interviews to separate from the common candidate. Companies spend a lot of time and money cultivating their brand so learn about them and use that information to engage with them and speak their language.  A family-owned regional marketing company will have a distinctly different brand than a global publicly traded marketing company.



Consider Joining LinkedIn Premium. Starting at $29.99 a month, LinkedIn’s paid service is a little pricey, but a short-term subscription may be worth it. One of the Premium services takes a page from Google’s paid search: It moves your correspondence to the top of the mailbox of whoever posted the job you’re applying for. Sure, the potential employer knows that the reason you’re the “featured applicant” is because you paid to be, but that doesn’t necessarily negate your advantage of being first.

Via Premium, you can also see complete information about who viewed your profile. It can be a bit of a red herring to know that someone has looked at your profile since you still don’t know why they looked – it could simply be that you share a name with the person they were really seeking.

Probably the most valuable element of the paid service is InMail, which allows you to contact anyone on LinkedIn directly, even if he or she is not a current contact. However, you are only allowed three InMails a year (pricier plans allow more), so you have to be extremely prudent about how you use them – they are not a cold-calling tool. Reserve the privilege of making contact with a key decision-maker for your dream job or other critical communication.

More Info & Resources. We recommend items from time to time that we have used and recommend.  Below is a link to “LinkedIn Profile Optimization for Dummies” a great resource for those looking for more information and more in-depth “how to”.

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