Category Archives: LinkedIn

3 reasons why your Articles & Activity section is important

When reviewing a client’s LinkedIn profile, I look at the typical sections: Summary, Experience, Educations, Skills, Volunteer, etc. I also look at one section of their profile that is very telling. Can you guess?

linkedin-alone

To stop the suspense, I’ll tell you. I look at their Articles & Activity section. I can tell from looking at this section whether they’ve been good or bad. More to the point, whether they’ve been engaging with their network, or simply spending very little time on LinkedIn. Below is an image of a profile of that has no Article & Activities section.

No Activity

This section lies between the Summary and Experience sections. What you see above tells you that this person has been dormant on LinkedIn. Here is a look at my Articles & Activity section.

Articles and activities

Showing engagement on LinkedIn will 1) encourage potential connections to invite you to their network, 2) impress recruiters with your knowledge and expertise, and 3) show you’re better than the average LinkedIn user.

Keep visitors on your site

I am reluctant to visit and continue to read someone’s profile if I see no pulse. Am I necessarily concerned if the person doesn’t have any of their own articles to share? Not really. I realize some, or most, people don’t want to publish their original ideas.

According to one source, “only 1 million professionals have published post on LinkedIn.”

However, if I don’t at least see engagement, I know the person is not serious about LinkedIn. I’m not the only person who spends attention to my clients’ Articles & Activity section. Hiring authorities are also paying attention.

Impress recruiters with your knowledge

Close to 94% of recruiters use LinkedIn to find talent, so the more time they spend on your profile, the better. True they want to see your titles, employment history, years of employment, and education. This said, recruiters also want to see your activity because it tells them if you:

  • like or comment on articles you find of value to your network;
  • write original thoughts or ask illuminating questions;
  • share a insightful, tasteful quotes;
  • announce certifications you earned;
  • contribute to a growing discussion; or
  • post videos that are relevant to you occupation and industry.

These are merely a few examples of what a potential candidate could show as activities. I go into greater detail in a post on how to optimize your engagement on LinkedIn. I discuss the difference between being active and engaging.

For example, when you comment on someone’s post, it’s not enough to write, “Great post, Sarah. Thanks for sharing.” Instead explain why you enjoyed the post and, perhaps, politely write about what you disagreed with. In other words, put real thought into comments you share.

I strongly suggest that you write articles to share on LinkedIn, as this will show recruiters your expertise in your industry. I tell my clients that they’re still “experts” in their field. Being out of work doesn’t change that.

However, I understand the time, effort, and courage it takes to put yourself out there.

Show you’re better than most LinkedIn users

The source I cited above also claims that “an average user spends 17 minutes monthly on LinkedIn.” That’s pitiful. LinkedIn has the potential to increase your chances of getting a job significantly, but only if you put effort into your LinkedIn campaign.

This means more than optimizing your profile by filling out all selections and employing keywords. You also have to develop a focused network and engage with your connections, which will be apparent by looking at your Articles & Activity section.

You should be using LinkedIn at least four days a week, half an hour a day. Does this sound like a lot of time? Divide your day in two; spend 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes at night. But don’t just go to LinkedIn’s Jobs feature and look for jobs; practice some of the ways you can engage mentioned above.


Four days is the minimum amount of time I recommend to my clients. Ideally you should be using LinkedIn daily, maybe taking a day off during the week. What’s important is that your Articles & Activity section shows quality engagement, and hopefully articles that demonstrate your area of expertise.

Advertisements

5 ways on LinkedIn to let employers know you’re unemployed

This post is written in response to a growing discussion on LinkedIn. 

I get the question all the time in my LinkedIn workshops: “What’s the best way to let employers know I’m looking for work?” My answer has been somewhat noncommittal, but some of my clients want potential employer to know their status.

question-mark-jpg3

Here are five options, none of which are entirely optimal.

  • Leave your most recent employer as current for a short period of time.
  • Create your own “company.”
  • End the tenure at your previous employer and address this in your Headline.
  • End the tenure at your previous employer and explain your story in your Summary.
  • List volunteer experience in the experience section.

There are problems with each tactic. After all, being out of work is … being out of work. And some ignorant employers still prefer to hire passive job seekers over job seekers who are actively looking for employment.

No matter how you spin it, employers will know the story. Let’s look at the potential solutions from worse to best:


Leave the employment date or…

5. Leave your previous position open

Of course, indicating you’re still employed when you’ve been laid off, let go, or have quit is dishonest. When job seekers ask me if they should do this, I tell them that, ideally, they should end their employment at a company a day after they lose their job.

That being said, pretending you’re still working for no more than three months is somewhat acceptable. Herein lies the problem: when a recruiter asks if you’re still at the company, you have to make up some story about how you haven’t gotten around to closing out the job. You’ll have to do some fancy dancing, and this may end the conversation immediately.

One could argue that at least you’ll have the opportunity to have a conversation with a recruiter or hiring manager. And that recruiter or manager might buy your tale.

4. Create your own ‘company’

While it is important to maintain All Star status and, thus, get more visits to your profile, you need to do so with style and a value add. I’ve seen profiles with “Unemployed” as the company name. How much value does this add to a person’s profile? None.

My colleague, Laura-Smith Proulx describes a solution in a post she wrote for www.job-hunt.org that let’s employers know you’re unemployed, while also demonstrating your value to employers. As she explains, “no current experience is a competitive disadvantage.”

A company name for Plant Engineer Supervisor would simply be: Plant Engineer Supervisor. This would show as current experience. The job title would be: Plant Engineer Supervisor Pursuing Opportunities in Manufacturing.

The description of said job needs to show your value. Laura provides a great description for the Plant Engineer Supervisor: “I offer a broad operations background, including Lean Six Sigma, team management, production supervision, and plant engineering skills.” You might also include a quote from a supervisor to demonstrate your expertise.


End the employment date

3. Tell employers in your Headline

Obviously, the worst thing you can write in your Headline is only “Unemployed,” “Seeking Next Opportunity,” or “Actively Looking for a Project Manager Position.” Any of these statements alone fail to express your value. Sure, they tell employers about your situation, but that’s about it.

Instead, show your value to the employer right out of the box: I will increase your production flow 85% by utilizing Lean Six Sigma, Manufacturing experience, and proven leadership” 

Keep in mind that space in your Headline is limited.  You’re allowed 120 characters, so make the best use of it. The example above is 119 characters. Whew.

2. Tell your story in your Summary

Whether you want to inform people of your situation immediately, in the middle, or at the end, you need to be positive about your situation. Potential employers won’t be concerned about how you lost your job as much as they will about what you can do for them.

Writing the following sets a positive tone, “After three years of an exciting stint in IT in my previous company, I’m ready to take on new challenges. Read my profile on how I can help your company’s IT needs….” Of course your LinkedIn profile must be strong and support your desired occupation.


Doing actual work: volunteering, that is

1. The best way to cover the employment gap – volunteering in your field

A Forbes article suggests including volunteer work in the Experience section. I tend to agree. I can hear the critics bemoaning this practice—after all, it’s not paid employment! While this is true, volunteer work is exactly that—work. In some cases, you may even work harder than you would in paid employment.

If you are going to include volunteer work in your LinkedIn Experience section, be sure to make a note of it by writing “Volunteer Work” next to the position. Do not mislead potential employers into thinking it is paid employment. (Some pundits don’t believe indicating that it’s volunteer experience is necessary.)

The volunteer work you list should be substantial and relevant. For example, if you’re a web developer, spending 20 hours a week developing a nonprofit’s website is a great way to showcase your existing skills and the new ones you may be learning.

Another thing to note: You can include recommendations with your volunteer experience, but only if you list it in the Experience section of the profile. If you leave your volunteer work in the volunteer section, people will be precluded from sharing recommendations.


Then there’s LinkedIn’s Career Interests feature

For job seekers who are being pursued by recruiters who have access to LinkedIn’s recruiter premium account, this features allows them to see who is currently looking for work, whether employed or unemployed.


So, is it necessary to point out your unemployment status or falsify information on LinkedIn? Probably not. Covering an employment gap with volunteer experience is the best method, in my mind.

Which brings us to the topic of volunteering. I’ll save that for another post.

A version of this post originally appeared in recruiter.com.

Photo: Flickr, Tom Waterhouse

It’s okay to connect with strangers on LinkedIn

“That’s weird. I can’t connect with strangers,” my daughter said. “Look, I’m at a coffee shop. I gotta go.” And then there was phone silence.

Networking2

This is three days after she made me proud by joining LinkedIn; I imagine because her career advisor suggested she should. So, more than a post addressed at my daughter; I’m reaching out to the college career advisor who suggested my daughter join LinkedIn.

First, I need to say, “Thank you very much.” And, second, you also should tell my daughter that it’s okay to connect with strangers on LinkedIn. It’s not “weird.”

Let me amend this statement. It’s okay to connect with the right strangers.

I get the same skepticism—which my daughter conveyed—from my older clients, but in different words. They tell me they feel “uncomfortable” asking people to join their paltry network of 80 LinkedIn members.

The short answer I give them is the idea of being on LinkedIn is to develop a network and to use it to gain assistance, as well as help others.

Then they’ll ask me, in effect, why anyone would want to connect with them. To answer their question, I explain that the power of LinkedIn is joining like-minded people. Regardless of the employment situation, my clients are still part of the workforce.

Still reluctant to connect with LinkedIn members?

I tell my clients that they should imagine themselves at an in-person networking event. They’re there because they want to meet people who can provide advice and, perhaps, information that could lead to their next gig.

Then I say there are two scenarios. The first is that they speak to as many people they feel comfortable with. They have a great time getting to know these people; it’s liberating. They’ll develop relationships with some of them; with others they won’t.

The second scenario is somewhat different. Instead of deciding to meet new people, they stand in a corner of the room and wait for people to approach them. As well, they put their heads down avoiding making eye contact. They will not develop relationships with any of them.

There are rules, though

1. Chose the right people to connect with

This is one of the rules I preach often. Know who your students will benefit from, and how they can help their new connections. Stress it’s a two-way street.

The first people your students should invite to their network are their classmates, people who are studying the same major. Engineering majors connect with engineering majors, English Lit. majors connect with English Lit. majors and so on.

Next they should connect with other majors. Bio Chemistry majors can connect with Physic majors. Psychology majors may want to be really crazy and connect with Math majors.

Next connect with students at other schools. Tell them to send invites to students at local schools, at first. There are many schools in the Boston area, so an Early Childhood Education major could connect with the like at other universities in the area.

The huge victories are connecting with the alumni of their school. These are the people who are able to help your students when they graduate from university. A business major needs to reach out to higher level employed alumni, announcing themselves as college students who would like to join their network. The best LinkedIn tool for finding alumni is “See Alumni.

This tool allows students to search for their classmates and alumni by these classifications:

  • What they are skilled at
  • What they studied
  • What they do
  • Where they work
  • Where they live

2. Know how invite LinkedIn users to their network

Students can’t just click the connect button on the profile of the intended connection, and then hit “Send Now.” Instead they must send a personalized invite. Many students probably wonder what they should write in their invite.

Have them write a generic message or two or three that fit the situation. Here are a few they can store on their desktop and modify to fit the situation.


To classmates

Hi (name). I’ve just joined LinkedIn and because we’re in the same major, would like to add you to my network. Perhaps we can learn from each other how to navigate this valuable platform.

(Student’s name)


To professors

Dear (Professor’s name)

I enjoy/ed your class and learned a great deal about (topic). I hope you don’t find this too bold, but I would like to connect with you on LinkedIn so we can stay in touch with each other. By the way, I encourage my classmates to take your class. That’s how much I enjoy/ed it.

(Student’s name)


To alumni

Dear (Name)

I’m a student at (school) and am starting to build my network. I see that you studied the same topic that I did. One of my objectives is to create focused online relationships. I understand how busy you must be. It would be great to connect and help each other when the time arises.

By the way, you and my mother worked at Dell at the same time. She’s working at IBM now.

(Student name)

3. Follow up with their new connections

What separates people who know how to use LinkedIn and those who don’t is following up with their connections. Students can’t simply invite someone to their network and leave it at that. After sending the proper invite, and being accepted, students should send a short note thanking their new connection for accepting their invite. This can facilitate more conversation.

I warn against accepting any invitation. If a student gets the “weird” feeling, it is not an invite to accept. I haven’t discussed this step with my daughter yet, but I’ll make sure that the stranger and she have a commonality, such as they are studying the same major, or have the same career goal, or simply attend the same school.


Really our jobs are not much different, dear college career advisor. We both have to help our clients get over the “weird” feeling of connecting with strangers. Tell them that other LinkedIn members are on the platform to meet people like our clients. Also tell them they should reach out to like-minded people, and that there are rules. College students understand rules.

The Ultimate LinkedIn Guide, Engaging on LinkedIn: Part 3

In part two of this series, we looked at how to optimize your LinkedIn network. This post will address how to engage with the connections within your network in various ways. When I explain this concept to my clients, I tell them that they can have a stellar profile and large network, but if they don’t engage their connections, it’s like they don’t exist.

linkedin-alone

Being Active Vs. Being Engaged

First let’s talk about the distinction between “active” and ”engage.” It’s possible to be active on LinkedIn, while not being engaged. When you’re active, you’re simply there and not making an impact. Whereas when you’re engaged, you’re truly communicating with your connections.

Let’s first look at examples of being active, followed by being engaged. Think about what you’re doing and if you need to change how you interact with your connections.

Being Active

Liking What Your Connections Post

There’s not much you can say about simply liking what your connections post, other than your connections might appreciate the number of Likes they receive. Then they’ll wonder, “What did Bob think of what I wrote?” This is the ultimate example of simply being active.

Sharing What Your Connections Post

Similar to liking what someone posts, simply sharing a post is clicking the Share button. Again, people will be grateful that you shared their post or article, but couldn’t you do more? “I’m glad Bob shared my article,” they will think. “But why did he share it? What did he think of it?”

Posting a Picture and Sharing a Quote

Posting a picture is nice. It adds color to peoples’ homepage feed. They may pause to look at it. A picture says a thousand words, right? Wrong. You want to explain why you’re sharing the picture, not have people guess. The same goes for sharing a quote without an explanation as to why you shared it.

Writing Brief Comments

Writing comments to what your connections post is a step toward the right direction, but your comments should be meaningful. For example, “Great article, Susan,” is not very meaningful. It is similar to Liking what someone posts.

One excuse I’ve heard from my clients is that it’s difficult to write a lengthy comment with their smartphone. My reply is wait until you’re in front of a computer, if that’s the case.

Asking a Question and Not Responding to Answers

Asking questions is fine; I do it all the time. However, just letting the responses you receive sit is disrespectful to the people who provided the answers. Make sure you ask meaningful questions, though.

Endorsing Connections for Their Skills

This doesn’t constitute engagement. You are simply clicking on your connections’ skills. Further, you might not have seen them perform the skills for which you’ve endorsed. My opinion of endorsements is well known by my clients. The opposite of endorsements are recommendations (discussed below).

Engagement

Writing Comments that are Meaningful

The opposite of writing a brief, meaningless comment is putting thought into what you write. The best way I can illustrate this is by sharing one I wrote for this article:

“Great post, @Susan Brandt. Your statement about a company lacking a social media campaign being akin to living in the dark ages really resonated with me. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and other platforms can create that ‘like, know, and trust’ relationship between the company and its’ customers. You’re also correct in stating that all platforms should be connected, as well as linked to and from the company’s website.”

Note: always remember to tag a person with @name so they will be notified in LinkedIn’s Notifications. I was scolded once for not doing this.

Sharing Original Updates

To stay top of mind, your shared updates must show engagement. LinkedIn encourages you to share an article, video, photo, or idea. Take the opportunity to engage with your connections by providing valuable content that elicits responses. A sign that you’ve succeeded would be the number of Likes and, more importantly, Comments you receive.

Note: Many LinkedIn pundits suggest keeping your status updates to one or two a day. I blatantly break this rule.

Responding to What Others Write about Your Updates

One type of update I find successful is asking an illuminating question. If you’re going to do this, be diligent in replying to your connections’ and followers’ responses. Failing to reply to your connections who answer your question does not demonstrate engagement. I am impressed with people who take the time to answer every reply they receive. I try to reply to all the feedback but, alas, I am only human.

Sharing Your Connections’ Articles AND Commenting

Unlike the aforementioned example of simply sharing someone’s article, you will go a step further and share a short synopsis of the message it delivers. This says, “I’ve taken the time to read the article, understand its meaning, and will elaborate on it for the benefit of the readers.” To be a curator is the true definition of networking.

Writing and Sharing your Articles

Writing an article with unique and fresh content takes engagement; it shows you’ve considered what your audience would benefit from. My primary audiences are job seekers and career coaches, so I write articles focusing on the job search and using LinkedIn in the job search. You can write an article on the LinkedIn platform or share one from a blog, such as this one.

Note: refrain from only sharing your own articles. This gives off the sense of superiority.

I include creating and sharing videos under engagement. This is a fairly new concept—probably a year old by now—but it’s catching hold among LinkedIn members. If you are going to share videos, make sure you’re consistent and produce videos your connections will appreciate.

Sending direct messages

Sending individual messages to your connections is the most obvious form of engagement. This is where relationships are cemented, or not, depending on the interaction you have with said person. I received from a client a question about sending mass messages. This is not considered proper policy; but if you need to reach many people at once, you are allowed to message 50 people at a time.

Writing Recommendations for Your Connections

Unlike endorsing your connections for their skills, writing recommendations take thought and time. To write a recommendation requires having supervised a connection or witnessed them as a colleague, partner, or vendor. This is a true form of engagement, but isn’t getting the respect it deserves. Listen to my interview on The Voice of the Job Seeker podcast.

Following Up with Your Connections

To truly show engagement, you must follow up with your connections. I have developed many relationships by reaching out to my connections via telephone, if they live a distance away. If they live closer, I’ll meet them for coffee. One of my connections and I had been exchanging discussions via LinkedIn. Yesterday we had our first phone conversation. Although we will not do business together, it was great finally “meeting” her on the phone.


Perhaps the most difficult part of a successful LinkedIn campaign is engaging with your LinkedIn connections. To do so requires you to extend yourself; perhaps reach outside your comfort zone. One of my clients told me, “I don’t know what to write.” I told her to write what she feels.

If you enjoyed this post and want to share it, please explain why you shared it.

2 recent LinkedIn changes: one good, the other MEH

I consider myself to be a fair guy. When LinkedIn does right, I complement them. When they do wrong, I criticize them.

linkedin-alone

This time LinkedIn made a smart move by joining multiple job titles to fit under one company icon (see below). But in the same fell swoop, LinkedIn truncating each position. More on this later.

New experience2

Good move: joining positions

GOOD WORLDWIDE LLC LOGO

Previously, if you wanted to list all your positions at one company, you  entered a “new position” and your company’s icon appeared for each position. This got confusing, because at quick glance it appeared as if you worked at two, three, four, or more companies.

Note: the process is still the same in terms of entering your titles, but LinkedIn shows the line joining the positions, displaying the company icon only once.

My solution to the multiple-icon fiasco for one company was to write another positions within the original entry and separate them with a line. Unfortunately, it limited how many characters I could use for each entry.

Another problem with showing multiple positions under one entry was diminishing SEO. (Titles are weighed among the heaviest of the areas on your profile.) So it was to one’s benefit to enter as many job titles for each company. Still, it looked confusing and and disorganized.

MEH: truncating positions…again

MEH3

Remember when LinkedIn showed a person’s first position and truncated the rest of them? I do, and I thought it was a terrible move. Here’s what it looked like below the full first job description:

truncated-experience

Well this brilliant move more than a year ago must have disappointed LinkedIn members, because LinkedIn went back to expanding all but a few positions, which I loved. I just couldn’t look at a profile which only displayed titles, companies, and tenure of employment.

When LinkedIn reversed its decision, I wrote this in a post:

The good news is that LinkedIn has reversed it’s decision of showing only the first position in its entirety and truncating the previous ones. On May 26th, 2017, I noticed that LinkedIn corrected this faux pas. Now we can see most of the positions expanded.

LinkedIn meets its users halfway

Currently LinkedIn has decided to truncate people’s positions to a point (approximately 60 words). This includes your first position, as well. Visitors to your profile can still see the rich media areas, but there’s still that thing about clicking to “See more” that leaves me sour.

Note: these 60 words have to be grabbers. I suggest they’re written in first person point of view, contain a value statement, and are kept to three lines at most. Three lines at most because you should show a bulleted accomplishment. An excerpt of my first job description reads:

I’m more than a workshop facilitator & designer; I’m a career and LinkedIn strategist who constantly thinks of ways to better market my customers in their job search. Through disseminating trending job-search strategies, I increase our customers’ chances of finding jobs.

HIGHLIGHTS

► To meet the needs of my customers, I have developed more advanced workshops that have garnered high praise

I get it. LinkedIn wants a streamlined profile that doesn’t take up too much space. And the nice move it made by joining positions might not look as appealing if the position are expanded. I guess I’m a traditionalist who likes to see a profile that resembles a resume outline.


What do you think about these two changes? I’d love to hear your opinions, even if you disagree with me. Especially if you disagree with me.

The Ultimate LinkedIn Guide, Part 2: How to Optimize Your Network

In Part 1, we looked at a checklist you can use to optimize your LinkedIn profile. This post will address optimizing your LinkedIn network; how to connect, with whom to connect, and connecting etiquette.

linkedin-alone

As we address the three stages of optimizing your network, check off the ones you feel you are succeeding at.

Why Connecting with LinkedIn Members is Important

It’s not evident to enough people that the foundation LinkedIn is built on is making connections and nurturing relationships. Yes, creating a strong profile is important, as is engaging with others (which we’ll address in part 3); but building your LinkedIn network is essential.

There are approximately 560 million LinkedIn users worldwide. You are allowed to connect with 30,000 LinkedIn members. Am I suggesting that you build you network to 30,000 people? No. What I am suggesting is that you reach out to an amount of people you’re comfortable with. Most important is that you reach out to the right people.

1. How NOT to Connect

The number one rule when connecting with LinkedIn members is to send a personalized invitation. There is no deviating from this rule. To click “Send now” lacks creativity and is lazy. Instead, always choose “Add a note.”

Invite box

We’ll get into writing the proper invitation note later in the post. Let’s first look at the improper ways of connecting with LinkedIn members.

The following ways to connect will not give you the opportunity to send a personalized invitation; rather it will simply state your name and give the recipient of your invitation the option to Ignore or Accept (see below). When I receive invites like these, I click “Ignore” with no remorse.

Invite without message

Number one on the list of connecting improperly is through the feature, “Your contact import is ready” and then choosing to send mass invites to your email contacts. You’ll find this option under “My Network” on the top navigation bar.

Connecting through email

Second on the list is, “People you may know.” This option is also under “My network.” When you click Connect, your invite goes straight through to the recipient. No chance to write a personal invitation.

People you may know

Finally is connecting with someone on your mobile app by simply hitting the connect button. This, like the aforementioned ways to connect will send along the default message.

2. The Correct Ways to Connect

Connecting correctly means taking the time to read a potential connection’s LinkedIn profile, and then writing a personalized invitation. Following is an example of a personalized invite.

Personalized invite

You can connect with second and third degree contacts. For third degree contacts, LinkedIn hides the connect request under the three horizontal boxes beside the message box. (See below.)

Connecting with 3rd degrees

Contrary to what many believe, you can connect with the LinkedIn mobile app and still send a personalized invite. It’s tempting to simply click “Connect,” but open the person’s profile first and then select the drop-down box (seen below).

phone-invite

3. With Whom to Connect

Your LinkedIn network is your life blood. Without a strong network of people, you will not be successful on LinkedIn. If you are weary of reaching out to people you don’t know, you’ll have to get over it. I tell my clients that the only way they’ll get to know people is by inviting them to their network, or vise versa.

How Many is Enough?

LinkedIn members have opinions on how many people should be in one’s network. Some believe a smaller, more focused network is better; whereas others believe the more the better. How many people you have in your network is your prerogative.

Note: If you have less than 400 connections, you might not be taken seriously by some recruiters.

Regardless of how many people you would like to connect with, there are tiers of people you will want to approach. In the pyramid below the more important or relevant people ascend from the bottom to the top.

pyramid of connections 2

1st tier: Your former colleagues and supervisors, as well as vendors, partners, etc. Connecting with these people first makes the most sense, as they know your work and can vouch for you.

2nd tier: Same occupation, same industry. As an example, you’re an accountant in the manufacturing industry. You will search for other accountants in your industry.

3rd tier: Same occupation but different industry. They have less in common with you, but can also be of assistance. An accountant in the information technology industry may know accountants in manufacturing, and therefore can introduce you to them.

4th tier: Recruiters are an important group of people for many job seekers. I always suggest to my clients that they reach out to recruiters, as they have a pipeline of employers job seekers are unaware of.

5th tier: Target companies. People at your target companies are your quickest way to get to know important employees who work for companies for which you’d like to work. Try to connect with people at your level or a someone who might supervise you.

6th tier: Your alumni can be beneficial to you because of the bond you share. This tier of people is particularly helpful to post grads entering the workforce who need connections to certain companies.

4. Finding Potential Connections

LinkedIn is a powerful database of professionals throughout the world. Finding people will not be difficult if you know how to use LinkedIn’s features. The most obvious way to look for someone by occupation is to use “Search.” A search for Program Manager garners 1,974,989 people. (See below.)

 

People search, program manager

However, to conduct a more focused search, you’ll use “All Filters.

All Filters

From the diagram below, you can see I’ve searched for program managers using the following filters:

  • Title: Program Manager
  • Degree of Connection: 2nd
  • Location: Greater Boston Area
  • Company: IBM

search for program manager

This garnered 37 results to match the criteria. This is a manageable amount of people to consider connecting with.

5. How to Write Proper Invite Messages

The art of connecting with LinkedIn members is in the message you craft. There are essentially three types of messages:

The cold message: This is the most difficult to write successfully. In your message you need to provide a reason why your desired connection should join your network.

Using a reference: This message should garner success as long as the person you reference is well known and trusted by your desired connection. It’s important that your reference agrees to being mentioned in your invite message.

Asking for an introduction. A separate message, or email, from a trusted reference must be sent to the intended person. The person making the introduction must be a first degree connection with you and the recipient.

For the full article on how to send connection invites, read 3 Proper Ways for Job Seekers to Send Invites to Potential LinkedIn Connections

Read part 3 of this series.


 

The Ultimate LinkedIn Guide, Part 1: How to Optimize Your Profile

This article is the first part of a three-part series that will guide you through LinkedIn.

In today’s article, we’ll look at how to optimize every section of your profile. Next week, we’ll discuss connecting with LinkedIn members. In the third and final part, we’ll examine ways to engage with your network connections.

linkedin-alone

Consider this article a checklist that can help you stay on track when crafting a great LinkedIn profile. This article contains all the same checklist items I use when guiding my own clients through the process.

Brand or Message

This is more important than many people realize. If you don’t create your profile with a clear brand or message in mind, you’ll have an unfocused profile. Consider the following sections components of your branding strategy.

Optimizing Your Profile

Although keywords are not enough to raise your profile to the top of a recruiter’s search results, they are still important. Keep in mind that some areas of your profile are weighed more heavily than others when it comes to keywords — specifically, your headline and job titles.

Major Profile Sections

As we go through each section below, check off the ones you feel are strong. If you can’t check off some of the sections, read about how to make them stronger.

1. Background Image

Your background image is your first chance to brand yourself on your profile. It is important to use a photo that is relevant to your work or what you enjoy doing. Your image should be sized at 1,584 by 396 pixels for the best results.

2. Profile Photo

If you think a photo is unnecessary, you are sadly mistaken. A profile sans photo gives the impression you can’t be trusted. In addition, people won’t recognize and remember you. LinkedIn says profiles with photos are 21 times more likely to be viewed than those without.

Your photo is a huge part of your brand. You don’t have to necessarily dress to the nines for it. Just look professional and presentable.

3. Headline

Perhaps the most critical component of your branding, your headline tells readers your title and areas of expertise. Don’t scrimp on this one — it carries a lot of weight when optimizing your profile. You have 120 characters to use — make them count.

4. Hyperlinked Information

Fairly new on the scene, this is a welcome change. (See boxed section of photo below.) When they click on the information in this box, readers are brought to your place of employment, education, contact info, and/or your connections.

Hyperlink area

5. Summary

Much has been written about LinkedIn summaries, so I’m going to spare you the verbiage and simply say your summary must tell your story. It needs to articulate your passion for what you do, how well you do it, and a call to action (how you can be reached). You have 2,000 characters, so I would use them all.

6. Dashboard

The dashboard area contains a lot of handy information: views of your profile, views of your latest post, and the number of searches you’ve appeared in. In addition, you can ask for career advice, turn on “career interests,” and check out the salary range for your position.

dashboard2

7. Articles and Activities

This area below your dashboard is visible to everyone who visits your profile. Visitors will see how many articles you’ve written and the number of posts you’ve shared. When I see very little info in the activities section, that means you haven’t made an effort to engage with your network. (More on this in the third part of this series.)

8. Experience

Too often, people skimp on the details in their experience section. This is particularly the case with C-level job seekers. You don’t need to include everything, but your major accomplishments are required. Note: Your job titles carry significant weight in terms of keywords.

9. Education

Don’t be afraid to add a little more character here than you would on your resume. Were you a D1 athlete? Mention that under “Activities and Societies.” Did you complete your degree while working full-time? Mention that in the “Description” area.

10. Volunteer

Don’t neglect this area. Employers appreciate people who give to their communities. This is also a section where you can showcase your personality. Your volunteerism doesn’t have to be job-related. If it is, list it in your experience section.

11. Skills and Endorsements

You can list a total of 50 skills, and others can endorse you for those skills. Take advantage of this section, as recruiters pay attention to the number and types of skills you have. When you apply for a job through LinkedIn’s “Easy Apply” feature, the number of skills you have for the job are counted.

New Skills and Recommendations Section

12. Recommendations

Once considered one of the top features, recommendations have been relegated to the basement of your profile. Should you continue to ask for and write recommendations in light of this change? In my opinion, yes. Recruiters will continue to read them.

13. Accomplishments

One of the major blunders LinkedIn has committed is anchoring this section in the basement of the profile. I say this because important information lies within, including lists of projects, organizations, publications, and patents.

14. Interests

This section shows visitors your interests in influencers, companies, groups, and schools. Recruiters might glean some information about you, based on the groups you’ve joined and the companies and schools you follow.

Profile Extras

15. Rich Media Areas

Rich media areas reside in your summary (shown below), experience, and education sections. Here, you can post videos, audio files, documents, and PowerPoint presentations. See this as your online portfolio.

Media Area

16. LinkedIn Publishing

LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to blog on topics of interest and share the posts with your connections. If you’re consistent in blogging, you’ll develop a following. Promoting your blog is entirely up to you. In the past, whenever you published, your connections would receive notification of your posts. Not so anymore.

17. Video

Video is becoming more important to standing out on social media. A good video must contain content that is relevant to your network. Small technical things like smiling, proper lighting and sound, and a steady camera are important. This video from Steph Cartwright is a good example of what your videos should look like, if you choose to make any.


If you are diligent about completing the sections of your profile covered here, you will be a third of the way toward a great LinkedIn campaign. Next read part 2 of this series!

This post originally appeared on recruiter.com.