Are you looking for a job? Happy with your current job but working toward a longer-term career path? Friends and mentors might have recommended LinkedIn as a networking tool. It’s definitely where people network in 2021—but you have to learn to use it effectively.
Building Your Profile
Once you create an account, you need to create a profile that pops. Even if you haven’t started adding contacts, potential employers will search for you, and you want to put your best foot forward.
Pro tip: build your profile before reaching out to connections. Once you have connections, your profile edits will show up in your friends’ feeds, and you may find them congratulating you for a “new job” you’ve had for years. If you already have connections but want to do some editing, you can turn off updates to your network under “Privacy Controls.”
This isn’t Facebook—don’t headline your profile with a beach selfie. Try to use a picture that looks like what you’d wear to an interview. As they say, “Don’t dress for the job you have, dress for the job you want.” If you want an office job, wear a suit or dress in your photo. If you’re in a more creative profession, you can show a little more flair. Either way, professional headshots are better than selfies.
You can also add a background photo to headline your page. A shelf of books? A graphic you designed? Think professional but also interesting.
Consider this your chance to introduce yourself. Who are you, professionally? Don’t just put your current job, but your career path and skills. If you see yourself as an organizational genius or a creative maven, put that! In your profile summary, you describe your personal brand, the type of worker you are.
By looking at profiles of people with the job you want, you can get a sense of keywords they tend to use. Do they always mention their proficiency with certain platforms? If you can use those too, say so. But don’t waste time on meaningless words like “hardworking” or “innovative.” Instead, describe something you’ve worked hard on or an important way you innovated at work.
The Rest of Your Profile
The LinkedIn search algorithm favors the most complete profiles. Fill in as many sections as you can. You can add links to your completed work or your personal website, your professional certifications, and volunteer work you’ve done. Make sure to add all of your work history, and that it matches up with what’s on your resume.
Using LinkedIn to Network
Once your profile looks good, start adding your professional connections. Your coworkers are an obvious first choice, if you get along well with them. Also add friends, family, professors, and college classmates who might remember you. Anyone you’ve met or worked with is fair game—a personalized message with your request will help them remember who you are. And if there’s someone you haven’t met but admire professionally, it doesn’t hurt anything to ask.
Staying active on LinkedIn boosts you in the algorithm so potential contacts will have an easier time finding you. If you have a professional blog, podcast, or YouTube channel, sharing your content on LinkedIn regularly will both drive traffic to your website and improve the look of your profile.
Another helpful feature is the ability to recommend someone. You can write a brief recommendation for someone you’ve worked with, and you can also request recommendations. Just go to their profile, click “more” next to “message,” and select “recommend.” Then you fill in your personalized endorsement of their skills. You can also ask them to recommend you!
Every social media platform has a few unspoken rules. To avoid committing a faux pas on LinkedIn, remember these guidelines:
- Don’t wait until you’re searching for a job to build your profile. If everything looks new, potential employers will know you made it just for this job search. An older profile with some history looks better— and appears more often in search results.
- Do go ahead and add everyone on LinkedIn you’d like to connect with. You don’t have to be best friends to be professional contacts.
- But don’t send requests to hiring managers or members of a hiring panel when you’re in the running for a job. They’ll look at your profile, but that doesn’t mean they want to connect with you until they’ve hired you.
- Do personalize requests to connect or requests for recommendations. If you remind someone of how you know them, they’re much more likely to respond positively.
- Don’t recommend people whose skills you don’t actually know, or whom you can’t honestly endorse. You can politely beg off by saying you don’t know them well enough.
- Post often, but not too often. A few times a week is good. A few times a day will drive away your connections.
- Never post about politics or religion. You can shut doors for yourself by voicing controversial views or starting arguments.
Planning Your Career Trajectory
If you aren’t currently looking for work, this all may seem unnecessary. But it’s part of having a long-term plan for your career. Instead of settling into a job and hoping it lasts, you can plot a trajectory of who you want to be in the future. Networking, on LinkedIn or anywhere else, will help you do that.Career planning is just one facet of your total financial picture. The right career can give you the income you need to meet savings goals and have enough to invest. For more financial help, contact us to reach a financial advisor who can help you make a long-term plan.