LinkedIn is an online social networking platform, just like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, but mainly for professional purposes.
Instead of making “friends”, people make “connections” on LinkedIn. Instead of sharing personal lives and hobbies, people share their professional experiences and achievements.
As you might know, networks and connections make a huge difference in career development, and LinkedIn is the most popular tool to build and nurture professional networks. It has more than 675 million members worldwide, including executives from all of the Fortune 500 companies.
How to use LinkedIn and why it’s useful
1. Search for Jobs
LinkedIn is a convenient job hunting platform for several reasons:
You can view the company page to learn more about the company
You can find employees of the company on the company page to ask questions or ask for referrals
You can directly apply with your LinkedIn profile
You can set up job alerts: LinkedIn will notify you when an opening appears
You can use search filters to help find the right job for you
If you pay for a premium subscription, you can have access to even more features such as seeing where you stand compared to other candidates.
2. Expand Your Professional Network
The main purpose of LinkedIn is to build a professional network. Beside interacting with your existing connections, it also enables you to expand your network without looking like a fraud or a creep.
First of all, different from most social platforms, LinkedIn shows you how far away you are from other individuals, such as 2nd or 3rd degree, meaning that the person knows at least one of your connections, or the person knows at least one person who knows one of your connections. These weak ties are usually the ones you can reach out to by asking mutual connections to introduce you.
Secondly, it is easy to find someone in common through LinkedIn profiles, such as those who went to your school or those who worked in a similar space as you did. Reaching out to these people is a great way to start expanding your network.
Whether you’re looking to draw attention from potential employers, clients or colleagues, LinkedIn can help you create your personal brand.
For example, headhunters can share their stories about how they helped a candidate land an ideal job. Designers can share their projects and what they learned from the experience. Executives can also share their points on people management or industry trends.
LinkedIn is a space to talk about your work comfortably while maintaining your personal brand at the same time, which opens doors to further opportunities.
For example, you can follow industry experts and influencers to catch up with trends and insights. For example, Bill Gates posts about major social issues and his insights frequently, gaining 29 million followers.
You can also join groups or follow certain hashtags to expose yourself to more professionals and knowledge. If you’re looking for a more systematic approach, LinkedIn Learning contains a rich list of online courses with certifications for you to add to your LinkedIn profile.
Top 5 tips to build a job-winning LinkedIn profile
1. Keep your LinkedIn profile updated.
Unlike a resume document which you can update before sending it to someone, you don’t know when your LinkedIn profile is being seen. You don’t want a potential employer or business partner to see outdated information, so make sure your job title, company name and location are all accurate and up to date.
2. Use a professional LinkedIn photo.
When you appear in the search results, your profile photo makes the first impression and helps people decide whether they should check your profile.
LinkedIn is a professional space where people look for reliable and trustworthy professionals - you should at least look like one. Avoid goofy selfies, group photos, outdated photos and photos that simply don’t show your face clear enough.
3. Deliberately craft your LinkedIn headline.
Other than your LinkedIn profile photo, your headline also shows up on a search results page. It also determines whether you show up in the search results.
For example, if someone searches for “social media” and your headline shows “social media curator”, you would be among the top of the results. However, if you choose to write “creative writer”, you might not show up on the page at all. Therefore, do some research on the terms and keywords that people often use regarding your expertise and integrate them into your LinkedIn headline.
Don’t make it too long though - it might look spammy and less trustworthy.
4. Make great use of your LinkedIn summary.
The About section on your LinkedIn profile is a great place to sell yourself. Think of it as a longer, more flexible and more creative resume summary. You can talk about your career goals, achievements, motivation, core skills and even personality or interests outside of work. There is no right format - just keep the text within 1-2 paragraphs so that people will actually read it.
5. Request LinkedIn recommendations and ask for endorsements.
One major difference between LinkedIn profiles and resumes is the feature of recommendations and endorsements from your connections. Having them makes you look more trustworthy and reliable, especially because people can further check the source. It’s a great idea to request recommendations from your former boss, client or colleagues because they actually worked with you.
After you build a strong LinkedIn profile, you can start sharing insightful posts and nurture your professional network. If you're hunting for a job, consider adding a link to your resume in your profile too!
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