LinkedIn – where social media meets professional networking! LinkedIn is like holding a resume megaphone at the world’s biggest networking event. Currently, 93% of companies use LinkedIn for recruiting (Jobcast) and among those who found their job through social media, 40% cite assistance from LinkedIn.
If you use Facebook in your job search, you must balance a professional and a casual social presence (check out our guide on Facebook for job seekers), but LinkedIn allows you to present yourself solely as a professional entity. Everyone on the site has the same intention: to expand their professional network. This makes it easier to differentiate between what is appropriate and what is not.
Currently, LinkedIn has 133 million users in the United States alone (Omnicore) and 94% of recruiters use LinkedIn to vet candidates (DMR). With so many eyes on you, you must be prepared to wow!
Remember that the job market is in the candidate’s favor. Even if you are a passive candidate (working, but open to new opportunities), a polished profile can help you further your career. You only get one chance at a first impression—don’t let yours be unprofessional! Think of LinkedIn as an online resume with a little extra personality. Your profile should be both eye-catching and effective.
*Disclaimer: These are only recommendations. There are no requirements on your social media behavior. The tips listed are only intended to be helpful insider information from our hundreds of recruiters.
Privacy: Go Public
There’s no good reason to keep your LinkedIn profile private. On sites like Facebook or Twitter, it makes sense to reserve most information for your friends. However, on LinkedIn you want recruiters to find you – which means you want to be visible to strangers. Keeping information private means you might get looked over.
To change your privacy settings, log in and click on your profile.
Then click on “Edit public profile & URL” on the right hand side.
Here, you can select what you want to make public. It’s best to select every box, but at the very least we recommend including your:
- Current Experience
- Past Experience
While you’re in this section, edit your profile URL.
When you first signed up, LinkedIn assigned you a random URL. Edit this into something that’s easier on the eyes, also known as a vanity URL. Just as you would with a professional email, make sure it is appropriate and reflects your name. For example, if your name is Bob Smith, try something like linkedin.com/BobSmith1234 or linkedin.com/BobSmithLosAngeles. Do NOT choose linkedin.com/badboy97 or linkedin.com/pro4ubsmith.
Once you have a vanity URL, you can include it on your paper resume. Recruiters can check out your profile and learn about experiences that wouldn’t fit on your one-page resume.
The intro is what people will see most frequently. When you land on a recruiter’s search, this is the information they will see.
This includes your photo, name, headline, current position, location, and industry. You can customize nearly every aspect of this – just click on the little pencil in the corner.
Keeping this information current can help you land more offers. According to DMR, keeping your positions up to date makes you 18 times more likely to be found in searches by recruiters and other LinkedIn members.
Compose a headline that succinctly and accurately represents you. Never make up a title or refer to yourself as a “Guru” or “Ninja.” These made-up positions don’t mean anything to recruiters and they don’t provide any credibility to your profile. Instead, choose something that briefly lets viewers know who you are and what you do.
- Branch Manager at Ultimate Staffing
- HR Consultant helping companies hire the right people faster
- Freelance grant writer working with non-profits in Los Angeles
While it can feel superfluous to feature a picture on a professional site, a photo enlivens and gives credibility to your profile. LinkedIn profiles with photos get 21 times more views and 36 times more messages (DMR).
Embrace the human element of LinkedIn and use a photo! However, don’t just copy and paste your Facebook profile picture. Having the right picture is crucial.
Photos taken by professionals are always best. Photos with professional headshots get 14 times more views (DMR), but if that’s not an option, here are a few tips for snapping the perfect, job-winning LinkedIn picture:
- ALWAYS wear professional clothes in your photo. Appropriate clothing can vary from one industry to another. If you’re unsure what constitutes appropriate attire in your industry, check out what other LinkedIn users are wearing in their profile pictures. When in doubt, err on the side of formality.
- You can take a photo of yourself, but be wary of the angles you employ. For a selfie, take it straight on, preferably from the chest up. It’s usually best to grab a friend and have them take the picture. That way, your arms aren’t awkwardly positioned in the frame. Additionally, a photo that is too close can make viewers uncomfortable.
- Whatever you do… NO CAR SELFIES. NEVER. NO MATTER WHAT. ABSOLUTELY NOT. The lighting might be in your favor, but it’s incredibly unprofessional, looks lazy, and can even suggest narcissism. Don’t do it. You’re worth so much more.
- Do NOT crop a group picture. Employers can totally see your friend’s shoulder and cropped pictures are rarely good quality.
- Don’t use photos from your wedding. Just because you got professional photos taken, it doesn’t mean they are appropriate. Pictures from weddings, graduations, and other non-professional events are often too personal for LinkedIn. However, if you have a professional photo session coming up, bring a shirt and a blazer and get a couple of specialty business shots.
- Most importantly…say cheese! What’s the first thing you do when you meet someone? You smile. It’s a natural human cue to indicate that you are safe, nice, and welcoming. No matter how artsy you are, no staring pensively into the distance, no duck face, and no maniacal laughter either. Humans rely heavily on eye contact for social relationships, so look into the camera and don’t wear sunglasses, ever. A nice warm, regular smile is all you need.
If you have a resume, then you know how fill in this section. Make it easy to read, quick to reference, and accurately reflective of your past positions.
To add experience, click the little plus sign and add all relevant work experience.
To optimize this section, consider these tips:
- Link each position to its respective company page
- Start descriptions with a brief and prompt overview of your position
- Utilize bullet points to further describe the position and achievements
- Employ action words (managed, created, grew, reduced, etc.)
- Include supporting documents and links to other media
- Use the appropriate tense (past-tense for past jobs, present-tense for current job)
- Always double, triple, and quadruple check spelling and grammar
The key here is using brief, clear language to speak to your skills, responsibilities, and accomplishments. If you need help with your resume, reach out to your Roth Staffing representative for general resume tips and apply them to your LinkedIn profile.
We also have a handy-dandy resume guide online.
How much detail you include in your education section depends on how long you’ve been out of school. Potential employers aren’t likely to be invested in activities from long ago.
If you’ve been out of school for a while, your main focus should be the Experience section. Under education, list only basic information (school and degree) and major accomplishments (graduating Magna Cum Laude). You can also list organizations to which you belonged if you think they might help you network (such as fraternities and sororities).
However, if you are a recent graduate, go more in depth in the education section.
List your college degrees, activities, societies, and major projects (if they have a professional application). Include awards won, research conducted, and honors received. If you have a college degree, you do not have to include high school, but you might still choose to if you would like to connect with fellow alumni.
Click on the plus sign to add information.
This section gives your profile dimension and shines light on your passions. Include past and present volunteer experience. However, make sure this experience is significant.
If you list the one Saturday you spent serving at a soup kitchen, it may come off as an attempt to fill up space. List repeat volunteer experiences, or events where you took on leadership roles. If you coordinated a charity walk, definitely list it. Include all the responsibilities and tasks as these can speak to your skills.
Skills & Endorsements
Recruiters can search by skills, so make sure you flaunt yours! LinkedIn users with at least five skills listed on their profile receive up to 17 times more profile views (DMR).
Be honest. Don’t list skills you “kinda know.” If an interviewer asked you to demonstrate a skill on the spot, could you perform it with flying colors?
Your connections can endorse these skills. A good way to increase your endorsements is to endorse others.
Your connections can write you recommendations, which are extremely powerful when searching for a job.
Ask people with whom you’ve worked closely to recommend you. Whenever possible, reach out to people in person or by phone prior to requesting a recommendation. If they agree, submit a request by clicking on “Ask to be recommended.”
Follow each step accordingly and customize your message at the bottom. Check out our tips on asking for a reference.
LinkedIn is the place to brag about yourself. In your Accomplishments section, list relevant recognitions and associations. Don’t shy away from “softer” accomplishments that could highlight your cultural fit with an organization.
In this section, you can add:
- Honors & Awards
- Languages Spoken (only if you are fluent)
- Test Scores
This section highlights the influencers, companies, groups, and schools you follow. Definitely expand this area, but try to avoid potentially controversial figures or causes – anyone can see who you follow.
Join groups that pertain to your interests and follow any organization you’d like to work for in the future. When their posts pop up in your feed, like and comment, making sure the organization sees you – follow the same rules for posting, sharing, and commenting outlined below.
Follow publications so that informative articles appear on your feed – it’s a great way to catch up on industry news, and you’ll have more interesting conversation topics to bring into interviews. Employers want to hire people who have a pulse on the industry.
Now that your profile is ready to mingle, it’s time to keep it active. When recruiters click on your profile, they can see your recent activity. No recent activity – or the wrong type of activity – can leave the wrong impression.
When adding connections, being with people you know, but don’t be afraid to branch out to others in the industry or even recruiters. When reaching out to distant connections, always go beyond the template and include a custom message.
Professionally and succinctly, tell them why you are interested in connecting. Quickly get to the point, include aspects of their profile that caught your eye, and don’t be afraid to compliment them. A good message can mean the difference between a connection and a bad first impression.
Here are a few examples of typical messages you might send:
A Casual Acquaintance
I’m glad we had the chance to meet through [connection]. I’d love to learn more about your work in [industry], particularly [topic]. Is LinkedIn your preferred method of contact?
Someone you met at a Networking Event
It was great speaking to you at the [event] last month. I enjoyed hearing your ideas about [topic/industry], and I am very intrigued to see what will happen next. I’d definitely like to stay in touch and keep up on the latest in your career.
I have been following [organization] and I came across your profile and couldn’t resist reaching out. I have been working in [industry] for ___ years, and currently seeking new opportunities. I’d love to talk about whether my background might be a fit for the organization – and also keep up on the latest within [organization] from your perspective.
Recruiters get a lot of messages, so don’t feel discouraged if you don’t get a response. Once you’ve connected, comment and like their posts and continue to message without being overwhelming.
You can freely message any of your connections. However, if you want to message someone you’re not connected to, you will have to purchase InMail capabilities. If you’re wary of dropping the cash, check out these tips from our social media manager, Valerie Killeen.
Tips from Within: InMail
Valerie oversees and sets the guidelines for all of our social media channels. Check out what she has to say about InMail:
No InMail, no problem! For professionals without a premium subscription, communicating on LinkedIn can be a bit frustrating. If you’d like to send a message to someone you’re not connected to, you can join a common LinkedIn group (you can send 15 free messages per month to fellow group members).
- LinkedIn group memberships are identified at the footer of each profile.
- Once you’ve been approved to join a group, you can search for fellow members within the group and select the envelope icon near their name to compose an InMail message.
- The best part? If your InMail receives a response, you can communicate back and forth as many times as you’d like without deducting from your 14 remaining InMail messages.
Posting & Sharing
Posting on LinkedIn increases your visibility, but only if you do it right. Anything you ever like, comment, or post can be seen by every single one of your connections. And if someone in your network likes or comments on your post, then it is visible by every single person in their network. It would not take long for a single inappropriate comment to find its way around the world.
Generally speaking, these are the best reasons to post on LinkedIn:
- Professional accomplishments
- New ideas or inspiration that relate to work life
- New development in your career or in the market
- Industry announcements or trends
- Job postings
- Professional events that you are attending or promoting
If it doesn’t fall into any of these categories, it may be better suited for a different platform. Experts recommend posting a few times a week, but no more than once per day.
Post articles. It’s a quick and simple way to engage with your connections, as long as you remember your R’s: Recent, Relevant, and Reliable.
You can also create your own articles. Share your expertise with the world. Just remember to keep it recent, relevant, and reliable. Don’t underestimate the power of your perspective.
Make sure anything you post comes from a reputable, professional source. For maximum engagement, include a quick sentence on why you find the article interesting.
Pro-tip: People love to interact and share ideas. Ask a question that can lead to more than a yes or no answer. For example, you can say, “I find it interesting that this expert discusses x and y as the driving factors, what have you found in your experience?” Now the conversation is flowing and you’re learning from your connections.
When posting, make sure you monitor your post appropriately. Don’t check it every five minutes, but be sure to correspond with those who comment in a timely manner. If someone is acknowledging your post, acknowledge them – engagement goes both ways.
A quick like, a “Thank you,” or a “Totally agree!” can go a long way. Reciprocity is key.
Beware the 7 B’s:
- Better Half: Unless you’re introducing your significant other to an online connection, or highlighting a professional accomplishment – there’s no need to post about them or your relationship. No anniversaries, no wedding photos.
- Booze: It’s no secret that your crazy weekend stories have no place in the office, and there’s no place for them on LinkedIn either.
- Bipartisan: Politics are a sensitive subject for many, and they can lead to heated arguments quickly. Quite simply, it’s just tasteless to discuss politics in a professional space.
- Bucks: Discussing salary on LinkedIn is a big no-no. This may scare away potential employers.
- Beliefs: For many, religion, or lack thereof, is a very personal topic, and it should remain personal. Avoid religious posts, even if they are positive.
- Battleground: Do not start arguments on LinkedIn, as that would be incredibly unprofessional. Also, avoid complaining about any current or past jobs.
- Blades + Blasters: Weapons have no place in the workplace. Weapons-related posts can make people feel uncomfortable, so it’s best to avoid these.
The rule should be: if I wouldn’t share it in an interview, I probably shouldn’t post it publicly.
NO SELFIES. EVER. NEVER EVER EVER – unless they depict something business related going on in the background, such as a prestigious award ceremony. You wouldn’t stop a coworker as they walk down the hall to show them a selfie you took in your car, so don’t post it on LinkedIn.
Posts that include a photo will get more attention, but the photo must be appropriate. If you won an award or attended an exciting professional event, by all means post. However, you must make sure you still uphold professionalism, outfits included. That means no photos of you in a bathing suit poolside at a conference, or in any other outfit you wouldn’t wear to the office.
You may be saying, “but the posts that violate these rules are the ones that get the most likes and comments,” and that’s true. It’s not necessarily a good thing that the post received so much attention. Don’t try to go viral for the sake of going viral. You shouldn’t be posting for likes; you should post to educate and share ideas with your connections.
Liking & Commenting
A friendly reminder: all of your connections can see everything you like and comment. Liking inappropriate posts or making off-putting comments can ruin your professional image.
Tips from Within: Don’t be that guy
Our social media specialist, Victoria Hayes, spends most of her day on LinkedIn. Check out her list of the 10 most annoying people on LinkedIn. Her advice? “Don’t be that guy.”
- The Facebook Police – These are the people who berate others for inappropriate posts, or simply comment “Facebook,” insinuating the post should only be on Facebook and not LinkedIn. No one likes a party-pooper – if a post is truly inappropriate, report it.
- The Complete Stranger – These users try to add connections seemingly at random.
- The Selfie Queen – Let’s face it; you’re not fooling anyone by captioning your (often provocative) selfie with an inspiring quote or recap of a recent career success. You wouldn’t pull that out in an interview.
- The Social Spammer – We don’t need to see your Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook posts ALSO on LinkedIn. Post appropriately on each channel.
- The Creep – They comment inappropriately on photos or posts. Again, if you wouldn’t say it in the workplace, don’t say it on LinkedIn. http://www.ledgent.com/about-us/news/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/edit-profile-19.png/li>
- The Narcissist – The person who likes their own post. Of course, you like it – you wrote it!
- The Troll – We’ve seen this guy on just about every social media platform. They disagree with every post and aren’t shy about saying so – and usually not in a respectful manner. It’s okay to introduce differing ideas, but it’s not okay to start an argument. If an exchange of ideas gets heated, know when to tap out.
- The “Guru” – “HR Guru” and “Recruitment Ninja” are not real titles. Just be yourself!
- The Philosopher – These users are always liking and sharing quotes. There’s nothing wrong with a few quotes every once in a while, but you should be focused on sharing your ideas.
- The Over-Sharer – They share their professional stories, but weave in way too many intimate details.
Once you have filled in your profile, you are ready to hunt for a job. Head to the top menu bar and click on Jobs.
Here, you can search for jobs of any kind, anywhere.
Each job posting will have its own requirements and its own application process.
In this section, you can let recruiters know that you are open to new opportunities – without anyone at your current organization seeing. LinkedIn’s new Open Candidates feature privately signals to other employers that you are interested.
On the Jobs tab, click on Career Interests.
Then you can fill out their guided form. Your “Note to recruiters” should read like a cover letter, speaking to your skills and showing genuine interest. Add any and all job titles you are interested in and qualified for. You should also list locations you are willing to work in, including specific cities or entire areas (such as “Greater Los Angeles Area”). You can even specify whether you’re looking for full-time, part-time, internships, remote, freelance, or contract positions.
Recruiters will then have the opportunity to reach out to you. However, this does not mean that you should sit back and relax. Continue to search and apply for jobs.
Should I go Premium?
If you’re looking for work, a premium membership might be beneficial. Premium memberships allow you to:
- Reach out to recruiters or job posters with InMail credits
- See who’s viewed your profile in the last 90 days and how they found you
- Move to the top of recruiters’ applicant lists
- See how you compare to other candidates
- Gain access to online video courses
- See salary details when browsing jobs without sharing your personal data
There is a one-month free trial you can take advantage of, but monthly payments start at $25.
It’s important that you stay active on LinkedIn even when you are not looking for a job. While 70% of Facebook users engage daily, only 13% of LinkedIn users do the same (Pew Research). Make sure you’re not only active when you need something. Recommend other and endorse their skills, assure you have a symbiotic relationship with your connections.
Comment, like, and post even when you are happily employed. Engage with your employer and boast your current work and other workplace events. Share company content and don’t be shy about your accomplishments. LinkedIn is not just for job searching. It’s primarily an online network for professionals to share expertise, get inspired, and build your professional credibility.
Roth is passionate about helping you in your job search. You have the smarts, experience, and passion to catch the eye of a top employer – use Roth Staffing and LinkedIn to make sure you get there.