LinkedIn: a free social networking tool providing recruiters and hopeful employees the chance to expand their business or start their career from the palm of their hand or the by the click of a mouse. LinkedIn, for many, is the place where it all begins. Boasting users in a vast majority of fields from business and marketing to healthcare and farm hands and everywhere in between.
Lets focus on a potential employee's perspective. You’ve just signed up to LinkedIn and created your first free account. Having never been on the network, you struggle to navigate it. You’ve managed to write a short and quite frankly underwhelming summary of yourself and it’s looking pretty bleak. You’ve also managed to put down two of your past jobs that don’t have much relevance in regards to what you’re wanting to do now; but, surely they still count for something, right? You know you’ve got much more to give but just don’t quite know how to give it yet. Until right now. So here it is:
Make yourself a known pro
Got friends or coworkers on LinkedIn? Get them to ‘endorse’ you for any skills you’ve listed on your profile. Endorsements are like vouching for someone or putting a good word in for them, but online. The problem with endorsements is that they are bound by unclear lines. Probably don’t put down ‘Digital Publishing’ as a skill if your only digital publishing skills is putting up Facebook Statuses.
The same goes for ‘Recommendations’ on LinkedIn, where users write recommendations for others which can then be viewed on their page by recruiters, working to create credibility to their character. Recommendations don’t come free, though, as quality ones will need to come from people who have actually witnessed your greatness.
Take advantage of the ‘Add Past Position’ section
Doing this helps recruiters find you. This section basically gives users the chance to write a bit of a resume. You don’t need to include every single job you’ve ever had, but all those with relevance. If you worked flipping burgers at McDonalds five years ago then that probably won’t contribute to your potential future career in Social Media. If you worked in marketing for McDonald’s posting updates on their Facebook page, then that could be seen as a step in the right direction. If you’ve completed work placement in High School or work experience at Uni in, for example, in a newsroom for a local paper, that would definitely be a strength that you’d want to build on. Keeping your LinkedIn account current is key but including past positions to highlight all possible experiences is hugely beneficial.
Connect, Follow, Engage
As mentioned earlier, LinkedIn boasts hundreds of millions of users in just as many jobs. LinkedIn allows users to join field-related groups which can allow for future business relationships resulting in more ‘connections’ within the network. Finding connections is as simple as going to ‘My Network’ where you can import all of your email contacts to LinkedIn. Or, depending on your previous or current job status, you can view all those on LinkedIn who have worked at the same company or in similar roles as you. On the flip side, if you ever meet like minded people at conferences or events face-to-face, then you can stay in touch by connecting with them via the LinkedIn network too.
LinkedIn is currently offering a free premium upgrade for a one month period. Of course, after that month is up you’ll have to pay twenty-five australian dollars to remain part of the exclusive club. A premium account will enable you to send a small number of messages to recruiters in order to get yourself noticed. You’ll also be able to see who’s viewed your profile in the past 90 days and how they discovered you, take online video courses that’ll enhance your skills, as well as gain access to salary details of your dream job. Upgrading will also grant you the magical skill of jumping straight to the top of recruiter's applicant lists when you apply for jobs, as well as letting you check out how you present in comparison with other applicants.
Don’t be afraid to post updates
LinkedIn gives its users the chance to ‘Share an article, post, or update’ on the Home Page. This section bears a close resemblance to Facebook’s Home Page and can be taken in the similar sense that you can actually post an update; Although, LinkedIn isn’t exactly a place users broadcast photos of their kids or kittens. LinkedIn is more a place where you’d want to offer an insight, provide some food for thought and an opportunity for some quality banter. Ever posted a blog? Link it via sharing an update on LinkedIn. Make yourself stand out from the crowd.
Taking all this into consideration when creating your LinkedIn profile, don’t forget to smile, post a picture of yourself in your sunday best and look ahead. This isn’t just a job, it’s your future.