LinkedIn is quite possibly the most valuable tool in your arsenal when on the search for a new job. Recruiters use it daily to find the perfect match for the positions they have open. LinkedIn can provide a lot more information than other job sites out there, so it’s best to utilize it to your full potential! In this entry for the Linux Academy blog, I have outlined some tips that can really help your LinkedIn profile stand out among the competition!
When optimizing your LinkedIn, the first thing you should optimize is your picture! Sure, that sounds a little vain, but it is one of the first things someone will notice when looking at your profile! You don’t have to be a supermodel in this picture, but you certainly need to look professional. “Professional” doesn’t necessarily mean suit and tie; you want to dress for the job you want. If you are trying to work in IT, this can vary from company to company. Do your research to find the attitude and the values held by the company or companies for which you would like to apply. Look at pictures of other employees in those companies to determine the typical dress code and demeanor of those people. This can provide valuable insight into the culture at these companies. If you are still unsure, you can certainly use a picture that is neutral. Try to keep the colors tame and the clothing conservative. You can then spice things up a little with your “banner image.”
The banner image is the image that is used as your background. You can always set a conservative picture for your headshot but use a picture of a beach, a mountain, a server rack or something that reflects your interests. It’s probably better to attract attention with your background image than by wearing flashy or outrageous clothing in your picture.
Finally, make sure the picture is high resolution and is only of you. This is not Facebook. This is only about you and your work accomplishments, so make sure you only feature yourself in the photo.
The headline is one of the other items that everyone who looks at your profile will see. Make sure you have it completed and accurate! Ensure that it reflects what you are currently looking for. Do not waste this space on some very broad or overused quote. This is your “attention getter!” Take a look at the positions for which you wish to apply and read them carefully. These job postings will provide valuable insight into what you want your headline to say. If you see a lot of job postings that say “looking for a hard worker,” you may want that to be reflected in your headline. Sure, that’s a little broad, but it’s an example.
Your Current Position
Make sure you are honest here. If you are currently looking for work, you need to specify this. Do not, I repeat, do not use this to be humorous. Things like “Stay at home mom for mommy inc.” and anything with the phrase “hustle” will not look good to a recruiter. I would keep this fairly serious and leave the creativity to the headline and other areas of your profile.
Your educational background will be important to many recruiters. Make sure you are honest here as well. Do not pretend you graduated college if you didn’t. If you don’t have a college degree, the IT community is typically very forgiving as long as you have work experience and/or certifications to back up your qualifications.
Your Experience and Projects
The experience section of your profile is the second most important section of your LinkedIn profile, after your intro. This is where recruiters will really start to analyze your potential for the positions they are offering. This information should match your resume. Ensure you utilize verbs, such as “performed,” “managed,” “utilized,” etc. The tense of the verb should be based on whether you currently work at the job you are describing or not. You want to really focus on your accomplishments here. Make sure you tailor each position to reflect the requirements for jobs you are currently applying for. If you are applying for a Linux Systems Administrator role, you might not want to go too deep into your Windows experience. Showing you are versatile is good, but you want to ensure you show potential recruiters you are focused on Linux and not just learning after many years in a Windows environment (whether this is true or not). You can save further details for the interview.
If you don’t have a lot of job experience, you should definitely try to find volunteer experience or create your own projects to show you know what you’re talking about. Make sure you add any GitHub repositories, websites, applications, etc. to your LinkedIn. Projects and real life experience are VERY important to recruiters, even if you weren’t paid for them.
In your accomplishments section, make sure you include all of your certifications. If your certification is expired, do not lie about it! Make sure you are honest about the status of all of your certifications as it doesn’t take much for a hiring manager to look them up. Make sure you include dates and the certification number. You can also link to the certification page or even the certificate if it’s hosted somewhere.
Recommendations and Endorsements
Endorsements can be good to show that you know what you’re talking about, but try to keep your skills focused. If you add a lot of skills that aren’t relevant to the jobs you’re looking for, this can cause a lot of unwanted messages from recruiters representing positions you may not be interested in. For instance, if you are trying to become a Linux Systems Administrator and you list a lot of sales experience and skills, you will be inundated with messages regarding positions in car sales, insurance sales, and other positions you do not necessarily wish to receive messages about.
There are other sections of your LinkedIn profile that may or may not apply to you. Make sure you go through all of them. Everything you include helps bring your profile to “All-Star Profile” status. When you reach this status, it shows you have completed most of your profile and it will stand out more. The more information LinkedIn has about you, the better it can tailor job results to you and the higher your profile will show up in recruiters’ feeds. If this makes you a little uneasy from a privacy standpoint, this may not be the medium for you, but it has certainly helped me and many people I know. LinkedIn is a great way to get yourself “out there” and into the job of your dreams!