Learning Linkedin

Learning LinkedIn: Adult Social Media

It’s that time of year: Pollen counts are high, toes are peeking out of shoes, and bright-eyed graduates are spilling out of classrooms and into the job market – the world of adulthood. Looking for work is reality and I don’t mean TV! So, let’s say TTYL to telling your story on Instagram, Facebook Live, and Snapchat, and say hello to LinkedIn.

Yes, LinkedIn!

Our TalentFront LinkedIn 101 Guide has everything you need to know about making your LinkedIn profile standout from the crowd!

The first thing you need to know about LinkedIn is: Yes, you do need a profile. As of January, the site boasted more than 457 million users. (For perspective, the U.S. population is about 320 million). That’s one heck of a network. The trick, of course, is that you need to be a part of the network, and stand out from the herd. Knowing what’s expected, and how to make the most of the platform, is invaluable. With that in mind, we are going to spend the next couple of blog posts delving into LinkedIn. From the granular to the big picture, I’ll show you how to use this powerful tool. Welcome to the realm of adult social media!

For starters, you are using LinkedIn to tell your professional story — the story of who you are, where you came from, and where you hope to go, professionally. If you think of LinkedIn as a story, you’ll see how each piece integrates to form a complete portrait.

LinkedIn 101: Your Profile

Tip #1: Take a Great Photo

And speaking of a complete portrait, let’s start with your picture. It should be a good one. If at all possible, enlist another person to assist you in the taking of it. Selfies do not scream “Future VP.” Next, find a nice backdrop. Move away from all the exits. You don’t want a door in the background of your photo – there are more photos of doors on LinkedIn than in Lowe’s or Home Depot! You do want a backdrop that connects your summary to you. So, if you’re an outdoorsy bio-engineer, a photo of you against a gorgeous nature backdrop is a good call. But please, don’t be cutesy.  No photos with anyone poorly edited out of the frame – if you can see even a finger nail, that is the wrong picture. Wedding and graduation portraits should be reserved for your parents’ mantle. And the focus should still be on you – not that gorgeous backdrop – so make sure you’re well zoomed in.

Finally, post photos for the job you want, and which reflect both the experience you have and the facts you’ve shared with your audience. Don’t wear a suit and tie if you’re hoping to become a hoodie-wearing software engineer – and don’t wear a hoodie if you’re answering postings from corporate law firms. Bottom line, you need to look the part.

Tip #2: Headlines State Who You Are and What You’re Looking For

LinkedIn lets you introduce yourself, in boldfaced type, at the top of your profile. This is called the headline, and, like a headline of any good story, it should contain the critical info: who you are and what you’re looking for. Someone scanning through dozens of profiles should be able to get the gist of yours – and to be able to tell if they want to read more – just from your headline. If you want to be a Magic Carpet Sales Rep in the DC Metro Area, your headline should say so. Are you a recent grad looking for big data jobs in Chicago? Bingo. The headlines practically write themselves! Don’t be tacky. Don’t be coy. Do be clear.

Tip #3: Write a Smashing Summary

If the Headline is your story’s headline, your Summary is your topic sentence. Your Summary should reflect your personality, passion and experience. If you are a statistical analyst who is also an energetic cross-fitter with a focus on health, I want to know that. Keep summaries short, but informative.

But summaries must be more than short – they must make you shine. Here, you must act as your own PR agent. This may feel awkward at first, because our society likes to tell people they shouldn’t talk too much about themselves. But that’s ridiculous! You need to be able to talk about yourself, in a positive light, throughout life: on first dates, in interviews and, one day, on Shark Tank. Still, it can be difficult to toe the line between humility and tooting your own horn. Stay away from superlatives (don’t say you’re the “best” anything unless you have a current gold medal to prove it) and focus on skills and talents the rest of your profile will provide the proof for.

It’s not hard, but it does take practice. So get over it, and get to LinkedIn to get started!

Download our TalentFront LinkedIn 101 Guide!

Tip #3: Resist the Urge to Copy + Paste Your Résumé

The experience portion of your LinkedIn profile is where you fill in the rest of your story – your professional history, and what you’ve learned and accomplished along the way. Here, you may be tempted to cut and paste chunks of your résumé. Don’t. When it comes to filling in your experiences, dust off your writing skills.

If you want your reader to keep reading, write well. So, if your job title was Special Events Intern, do NOT write “Special Events Intern” as your first job duty. Your bullets should fill in the detail – hiring managers want to know what you did and what you want to do. Provide clear, concise information about what you’ve done and the skills you’ve acquired.

Recent grads are expected to showcase two to three experiences – no more. Meaningful internships, work-studies, co-op programs, and summer jobs are all part of your professional history. And “meaningful” doesn’t necessarily mean curing cancer (but that would be nice). If you have restaurant experience, tell the story of that job and the lessons you learned there. Babysitting for your neighbor during high school could be meaningful or not, depending on your life’s ambition. If you’re an early childhood major, it’s not only important, it’s critical. Focus on importance and relevance first, prestige second.

These are the first steps toward building an excellent LinkedIn profile. Next week, we’ll discuss how to continue maximizing LinkedIn, including choosing an industry and a market, and rounding out your story with additional details like volunteering, certifications, endorsements. Our final course covers how to adjust your LinkedIn settings to make sure the people you want to see your profile are in fact seeing it. So be sure to check back in.

And congratulations . . . you’re now using social media for business. I got luggage when I graduated. I’m giving you a tool-kit for life. Who got the better deal?

What makes a great LinkedIn profile standout from the crowd? Download our TalentFront LinkedIn 101 Guide and find out!

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