You hear it from all of your job search experts: leverage your LinkedIn profile! Build your network for job search success! And those are absolutely true—these days, LinkedIn is a necessary tool for any job hunt. But the question is, how do you turn your LinkedIn profile into a lean, mean, opportunity-generating machine?
Let’s look at 9 LinkedIn profile hacks that can boost your job search like crazy.
1. Bulk Up Your Profile
“Fill in your profile” may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people just fill in the basic outlines, thinking they’ll go back later and do the rest, and never quite get around to it. Meanwhile, recruiters and hiring managers are searching LinkedIn, and you want your name to pop up for tailor-made opportunities.
Make sure you’re including these elements in your profile, at a bare minimum:
A Professional Pic
Pick a headshot that’s flattering, and professional enough that you wouldn’t mind having your mom, your boss, or the HR rep at your dream company see it. Yes, your pet is awesome, but your selfie with Mr. Fluffypants the iguana is better-suited to your (private) Facebook page. If you can, get a professional photographer (or at least your cousin who’s perpetually trying to get that photography business off the ground) to take your picture.
A 1-2 Sentence Mission Statement
This is your elevator pitch. It’s a quick summary of your professional identity/brand. Be creative—don’t just recycle your job title. You want it to be short, sweet, and chock full of keywords that are important to your industry.
Your Personalized URL
All LinkedIn users get a generic URL. But did you know that you can also get one that’s shorter and more personalized? While you’re editing your profile, select the Edit link next to your public profile, and you’ll have the option to select a new URL. Again, keep it professional, and use your name. And if you happen to have a common name, keep the variation as simple as you can. This is not the spot to add creative words like “ninja” or “rockstar.”
Your Job History
This is important for two reasons: a) your LinkedIn profile is like a living, breathing resume that you can update as often as you want; and b) LinkedIn uses the data in your profile to forge links with companies and other users. You want this section to be as up to date and comprehensive as possible, to increase your networking opportunities.
Like the job history, your education information can help boost your natural networking opportunities. You can select school, course of study, and any activities you too part in while there. This helps build connections that you might not have been able to get to otherwise. For example, I went to a very large state university, and knew only a small fraction of my graduating class. I also tend to hit “delete” automatically on alumni bulletins in my inbox. But via LinkedIn, I’ve gotten more insight into classmates I never even knew existed, and can see how our careers fit together, even if we never crossed paths back on campus.
This is a great place to showcase skills that you’ve picked up along the way, even if you don’t use them in your current position. This section also allows your connections to weigh in and “endorse” you, showing how awesome you are at said skills.
This is the longer version of your headline, including context information that you want potential employers to see. You don’t need to go into every responsibility you’ve had at every job, but you have 2000 characters to create a pretty solid collection of your greatest hits.
Your profile should look and read professional, but that doesn’t mean you can’t let your personality shine through. Witty and clever is good—but again, don’t go overboard. You want someone to be able to “get” you at a glance, not just your summary of accomplishments.
2. Get Involved
Once you’ve set up your profile, don’t just walk away and wait for people and opportunities to come to you. Be a good community member—that means looking for connections, endorsing others, and interacting with others as much as possible on the platform. It shows that you’re engaged and personable.
If you join groups in LinkedIn, that lets you send messages directly to second- and third-degree connections, so this is a very useful tool to have.
3. Know What to Leave Out
Spambots love public social media profiles, so don’t post your personal email address in any of the public fields unless you want to be weeding out weird spam messages for the rest of eternity. Anyone who reads your profile and wants to get in touch via the LinkedIn platform can do it without having MeMyselfAndI95@hotmail.com in the headline. You want your LinkedIn profile to be complete, but you don’t need to go overboard.
Your LinkedIn profile doesn’t have to march in lockstep with your other profiles and job search materials. For example, your resume and your LinkedIn profile should be a bit different.
4. Build Your Rep In Your Field
While you’re off being a good LinkedIn citizen and recommending people in your network, also work on answering questions in your field (assuming you know the answers—don’t make stuff up just for the sake of getting your name out there, because you also don’t want to undermine your professional credibility). Answering questions helps get your name out in your industry’s circles. And who knows—maybe something you post will go LinkedIn viral, and you’ll gain exposure to people in your field that you wouldn’t otherwise have been able to reach.
5. Keep It Current
Update your status daily, if you can—or at the very least, a few times a week. The key to LinkedIn success is engaging with the platform as much as you can, so that you’re maximizing your information and your connections. When you update, don’t default to things like “here are my thoughts on this political thing,” or “here’s what I’m doing for dinner tonight.” Post an update that’s relevant to your work or your skills, so that your target market sees you’re committed to your professional brand. For example: “Just attended a great webinar on productivity, and am excited to try out Steve’s 4 Steps to Productive Greatness.”
6. Use Keywords
This is especially helpful in your “Skills” section. If your industry has a very specific set of skills, make sure you list them—that is, if you actually have them. It would be pretty easy to disprove that you’re not fluent in Italian and Swahili, no matter what your LinkedIn profile says. If you’re looking for a job in social media, make sure you’re listing all the platforms you’re familiar with, and keep the section updated as new ones come out.
7. Work Your LinkedIn Profile Into Your Application Package
LinkedIn has the potential to be a more dynamic tool than, say, your resume. Once you hit “send” on your resume or print it out for an interview, that’s it. No changes for this particular job application. But if you include your LinkedIn profile URL (remember that personalized URL we talked about?) with your contact info on your resume header, then your reader can go and find out all the wonderful extra information about you, your experience, and your skills beyond what fits in the short-and-sweet resume version.
8. Spy On Yourself
If you use the LinkedIn app, you can search anonymously, but still see who’s been reading your profile. So if you can see that someone from XYZ company was interested in your profile, you can add some custom keywords, skills, or information to better appeal.
9. Save Your Searches
LinkedIn has a “save searches” function, which can help you keep track of specific job keywords or listings that you’re interested in seeing. You can also set up alerts that let you know when these keywords pop up, so that you’re not obsessively reviewing your searches all the time (unless, of course, you want to).
No matter how you look at it, LinkedIn has the potential to be an MVP in your job search. You get to decide how much (or how little) you want to interact with it, but the more you use it to your advantage, the more rewards you’ll get from the platform and the people and companies who rely on it to find great people for open jobs. Good luck, and happy linking!
Want More Content Like This?
Get TheJobNetwork's Latest Career Advice &
Job Seeking Tips straight to your inbox