The world of social media is constantly changing. For casual users, it can be nearly impossible to keep up with. There’s Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus, Snapchat, Instagram, Kik and Vine. All of these sites focus strongly on the “social” aspect of social media. They’re about engaging and interacting with others in a social and typically casual way, and they can help users find anything from book recommendations to new favorite movies. There are numerous online platforms that offer a lighter, more fun experience, but one site that stands out as something different and perhaps quite a bit more meaningful is LinkedIn.
LinkedIn describes itself as a “business-oriented social networking service.” LinkedIn is something different. It’s professional. LinkedIn has more than 120 million users and the average user is in his or her mid-40s. Clearly this social networking site is offering something important the others don’t.
What I think LinkedIn is offering is potential. Real potential. Like Twitter of Facebook, LinkedIn doesn’t offer fleeting fame or attention. It isn’t the best place for a friendly, casual conversation. There’s a time and a place for sites like this. I won’t pretend that I’m above the fun of Twitter or Facebook. Twitter is my favorite social networking site, but the older I get, the more I realize that it simply doesn’t offer the kinds of things that other sites, such as LinkedIn, offer. If you’re looking to land a job or perhaps find a better, higher paying job, LinkedIn is going to be a lot more help than Twitter. There’s really no question about that.
Now, I must admit that even I haven’t fully realized how important LinkedIn can be. I confess that I haven’t taken the time to develop my LinkedIn profile the way I’ve developed other social media accounts. That’s because, quite honestly, LinkedIn isn’t very fun. Maybe that’s why it’s the important one. It’s a bit more like work. Developing a strong LinkedIn profile is a lot like writing a strong resume. It’s burdensome and easy to put off, but in the end it is worth the time.
Because I don’t personally know a lot about LinkedIn, I did quite a bit of research better setting out to write this article. What I’ve found is this: Of course LinkedIn can help you land a higher paying job. There isn’t a doubt in my mind that when it’s used well, LinkedIn can be the perfect way to find a better job. However, simply making an account isn’t enough. In order to access LinkedIn’s professional potential, you have to perfect your profile, give it the attention it deserves and demands and know what you’re looking for. Without a good deal of effort on each user’s part, LinkedIn is just another way to pass the time online.
After completing my research, I was able to find what I think are the best tips toward using LinkedIn to find a better job. Here they are:
Present Yourself Well
Upload a pleasant, recent photograph of yourself. Make sure that you don’t make any spelling or grammar errors on your profile. Always be polite and courteous to those you interact with. While these things might seem like common sense, they’re still extremely important on a site like LinkedIn. Appearance is everything online. Just like in “real life,” you can’t redo a first impression. Make sure that what you show people on your profile represents you well. When in doubt, remember that anything you post on LinkedIn, your boss could and probably will see. So always keep it professional and respectable.
Tell Your Story
Instead of looking at LinkedIn as another chance to provide your resume, look at it as a chance to tell your professional story. Potential employers are going to see your resume eventually anyway, so give them a little more with LinkedIn. Take the opportunity to go into a little more detail about what you did at each of your jobs and what you did well. Talk about how you got where you are now, and if you’re looking for a chance, talk about that too. Include specific and respectable professional achievements, and try to include key words and phrases that could help potential employers find you. If you’re particularly interested in a certain kind of job, say that. If you want to work in journalism, talk about your experience and your goals. Don’t go overboard and get too longwinded, because no one’s going to read it — potential employers included — but don’t just copy and paste the text portion of your resume onto your LinkedIn profile. You can do a little better than that.
Get a High Number of Recommendations
It might feel gratuitous and excessive, but as a general rule, the more recommendations you have, the better you’re going to look. Future employers want to know how you work, and the best way to tell them is to let someone who has actually worked with you do it. You can type all day about what a hard worker you are and how well you cooperate with a team, but in the end, it’s going to mean so much more when someone else says it. So ask your old bosses. If you’re young, maybe ask a respected professor. Bottom line: ask someone. Shoot for three to five recommendations, and remember that even if that feels over the top to you, it’s going to look really good to a potential employer.
Upload and Include Links That Show Examples of Your Work
Don’t make people take your word for what you’ve done. Try to include legitimate examples of your work that can wow potential employers. If you’re a writer, this is the easiest thing in the world. Upload a few stories. If you’re published, include a few links to your stories. Bam. That’s it. If you aren’t a writer, this could get a little trickier, but whether it’s through photographs, a professional website or impressive reviews from your old customers, post something that proves you can really do what you’re claiming you can do.
Have a Goal
Know what your objective is when you’re perfecting your account. If you’re trying to connect with a large number of other professionals, be aware of that. If you want to find a better job, keep that in mind. Simply knowing what your goal is with your account will help you decide what to do next, what users to connect with and how to interact with others. Choosing a goal and keeping it in the forefront of your mind will also help to keep you focused and moving forward.
Connect and Engage
Despite the fact that LinkedIn is a different breed of social networking site, it is still a social networking site. Don’t neglect the social aspect. Connect with people that you’ve worked with, gone to school with or befriended. Connect with people that you want to work with, that you’d like to know professionally. There are different schools of thought regarding whether or not you should shoot for an incredibly high number of connections or not. Some say that a high number of connections makes you appear more influential and can help you drive website traffic to the links posted on your profile. But others say that an excessive number of connections loses its merit and doesn’t actually put you ahead at all.
In the end, it’s a judgment call that is yours to make. I can see both sides of this argument. My advice would be not to shy away from a high number of connections, but try to connect only with people with whom you would actually be interested in working with. If you have a high number of connections from every field, they probably won’t be able to help you much. But if you’re an aspiring film critic and you have a huge number of connections with other successful critics, there’s a good chance you can learn from those people and even score a job. Regardless with how many people you choose to connect with on LinkedIn, you must engage with them. Talk to them. Keep up with their posts and where they are in their professional lives. Comment on their articles. Keep your name in people’s minds by engaging and being an active LinkedIn user. When they’re trying to think of someone for a job opening, make sure your name is one that they know.
After all of my research on LinkedIn, I have come to one main conclusion: I need to work on my LinkedIn profile! As always, thank you for reading, and if you want to contact me, you can find me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SkyyTweet. Also, feel free to add me on LinkedIn! My profile is listed under my name: Schyler Martin.
If you want to read more of my work regarding social media, you can find it here.