Having a profile is a great first step, but if you're like many professionals, you could probably leverage LinkedIn better to help you reach your career and job search goals.
Take a close look at your profile and how you use the network and make sure you aren't making these mistakes on LinkedIn.
1. Your profile isn't 100% complete.
You set up a profile, isn't that enough? Not exactly! Check your profile and make sure LinkedIn tells you it is "100% complete." If it's not, take the steps needed to fill it in. Perhaps you need to reach the required 50 contacts. Have you added your education and filled in some skills? Have you included your zip code, and filled in all of the sections? Do you have a Summary and have you described your work experiences? Don't forget to include a photo; people are much less likely to want to learn more about you if you don't add a picture to your profile. When your profile is not complete, you will be harder to find on LinkedIn, and you don't get the full benefit of the network.
When recruiters or others search LinkedIn, they see many results listed. What will inspire them to select your profile? To start out, make sure you use a friendly, but professional looking photo. Create a headline (the information right under your name) that makes it clear why someone should want to learn more about you. Don't use your current job title as your headline; be descriptive and tell people why you're great at what you do. When you compose your descriptive headline, or pitch, be sure to include keywords, the words people are most likely to use when they search for someone with your background. Take advantage of the opportunity to tell your story in your LinkedIn profile.
3. You never modify your profile.
Social networks don't work as well when you "set it and forget it." Keep an eye on how often your profile comes up in search and how many people view your profile. (You can see this information when you view your profile - scroll down and look on the right side of your screen.) If the numbers are low, update your titles and your headline and tweak your descriptions to try to capture additional search traffic.
4. You haven't customized your LinkedIn URL.
The most obvious sign of a LinkedIn novice: a non-customized URL. When you edit your profile, look under your photo. If the URL listed is a series of random letters or numbers, be sure to edit it and select your name, or some version of your name if you aren't able to secure your name as a URL. Once you customize your URL, it makes it a lot easier to share it on your business cards and your resume.
5. You never post updates.
There's a reason LinkedIn is called a "social network." The point is to share insights and information with your network. You can do this via the "update" feature. What should you say? Share ideas, links to interesting articles, and pass along links people in your network share.
6. You're not following companies.
You can learn a lot by following a company on LinkedIn. Even if they don't consistently update their page, you can easily see people in your network who work for the company and use the data at your fingertips to see if the company promotes from within (check "Insights"), and where they tend to recruit. Of course, you'll also see any jobs they post, and have the opportunity to be one of the first to apply.
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