In a world where social media platforms are constantly vying for our attention, LinkedIn, launched in 2003, has long asserted its staying power. Beneath its reserved appearance (no bunny ear photo filters here), LinkedIn is a powerhouse of connectivity. Today, over 180 million workers in the U.S. and 830 million people worldwide have LinkedIn profiles that connect them to news, dialogue, and job postings from the nearly 100,000 U.S.- based companies present on the platform.
Indeed, with six people getting hired every minute via LinkedIn, the platform’s broad appeal is perhaps its credibility as a place where actual people finding actual jobs is the rule rather than the exception. If your attempt to launch an Instagram influencer career falters, LinkedIn is where you turn for bread and butter employment opportunities.
With its many profile sections and settings, along with the platform-specific nuances of doing the whole social media thing among colleagues and prospective employers, we tapped Erik Harbison, lead instructor for UVM’s Digital Marketing Fundamentals Professional Certificate program and co-founder of The Marketing Help, to provide expert pointers on how to make the most of all that LinkedIn has to offer.
1. Remember LinkedIn is More Than a Resume
“LinkedIn has gone from being your digital resume to your digital reputation for your personal brand. And your personal brand has become so important,” says Harbison. LinkedIn has serious first-impression power, since “it will often be the first thing someone will find about you before your resume.”
To take stock of how well your page represents your personal brand, start with your About section. “A lot of people don’t want to write long About bios because they don’t think people are going to read it – but this is false,” Harbison explains. The key here is to create short, skimmable lines in lieu of long, dense paragraphs.
“Your About section should succinctly tell how you got into your craft, name your greatest accomplishments to date, and the types of environments that you work best in,” Harbison advises.
Another tip for this section? Use keywords that will help the hiring managers and recruiters to find you – and use the name pronunciation tool, so they’ll know how to address you.
2. Create a Custom URL and Unique Headline
If your personal LinkedIn URL contains an automatically generated series of numbers and hyphens, you’re missing out on a premium opportunity for your personal brand. “Make sure you make your URL unique to you – JaneSmithMarketing or SamEspinozaVisualEffects, for example. Your URL is your chance to own your personal brand. It’s your digital vanity plate,” says Harbison. Changing your URL is simple; just click on your Contact Info and select the pencil icon to edit your URL, website, or email.
Next, take a look at your profile headline. Is it descriptive and specific to you – or is it perhaps too general? Think of it this way, says Harbison, “the headline is where you put your personal, unique value proposition.” Harbison suggests naming your exact expertise instead of leaving people guessing. For example, an effective headline could contain three examples of your core strengths or expertise: “Content marketer specializing in writing social media captions, email newsletters, and video scripts.”
3. Stay Present and Engaged
Maintaining an active social media presence takes real-time. But keeping your LinkedIn page fresh and current doesn’t require superuser efforts, scrolling, posting, and connecting every day. Small doses of regular maintenance go a long way if you’re actively job searching, or even interested in receiving passive inquiries from recruiters or former colleagues. A current page is a quick way to communicate “I’m open for business!”
Adding recent work as Featured Links is a great way to show what you’ve been up to. Providing links to recent projects gives folks a glimpse into your talents and reinforces what you’ve described in your About section and in the Skills section, where you can select skills to feature in your profile.
Your Activity section also indicates what you care about, showing not only your recent posts but also the posts you’ve liked or commented on. Even a brief comment – congratulating someone on a new job or accomplishment or voicing your support for a post about a workplace issue that matters to you – sends the signal that you’re engaged and available. LinkedIn can also be a valuable forum for folks who are looking to crystalize their status as thought leaders. If this is your goal, you will want to create engaging, conversational posts multiple times a month.
If you’re looking for a career refresh – or overhaul – check out job search resources, interviewing technique tips, and professional development courses offered through Upskill Vermont. For eligible Vermonters looking to take advantage of future Upskill Vermont scholarship funding, join a waitlist for any courses that you are interested in. You’ll be notified if any seats open up in courses offered as part of the Upskill Vermont Scholarship Program.