Q & A: Refresh your LinkedIn knowledge

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If you haven’t logged into your LinkedIn profile for a while, the new year might be a good time to update it or create a profile if you don’t already have one. 

When I worked in Talent Acquisition, LinkedIn was a tool I used daily to find prospective candidates and I am considered a LinkedIn super-user. I often get questions about the platform and I hope to provide some information by answering those questions.

If I create or update my LinkedIn profile, will my boss think I am looking for a job?

No, so this should not be a deterrent for you to join or update your profile. LinkedIn went global back in 2008 and now has over 467 million users worldwide. These days, it is as common to have a LinkedIn account as it is to have a Facebook or a Twitter profile.

Many people use LinkedIn to keep track of business contacts, former colleagues, former classmates etc. so while it is a useful tool for a job search, it has many other functions.

What should I put in my profile?

Your profile should be professional and reflect who you are. Some people have very punchy and creative profiles and some profiles are more conservative and informative. Neither one nor the other has a “better” chance. Here are some guidelines:

  • Picture: You should put a profile picture. Hiring managers respond well because it helps them associate a person to the profile. I have known some hiring managers to think profiles are fake or inaccurate when they don’t have a picture. Keep your profile picture simple and professional. You should be able to clearly see your face and no one else, so no cropping people at the shoulder and no pictures of animals or objects.
  • Headline: The headline is a description of what you do, so you can be creative if you choose to. The only time you should write in your headline that you are looking for opportunities is if you are currently not working or if you are wrapping up a contract and it has already been agreed that there will be no extension.
  • Summary: The summary is one of the most underused sections that can bring you the most value. Your summary is your chance to play up your strengths and speak to some interesting things that you do or specialize in. Hiring managers like seeing a well-written summary because it gives them a snapshot of the person as a professional. If you are a Montrealer like me, and you are fluently bilingual, you can write your summary in both languages. This is an effective way to demonstrate your proficiency.
  • Experience: This section should include the jobs you held, the companies you worked for, the dates and a description of your role and/or your achievements. It does not have to be an exact replica of your résumé, but should at least include your main areas of responsibility.
  • Education: It helps to add your college and/or university studies because it will open up your connections and make your profile more searchable. I would recommend only including the institutions where you have completed a degree. If you have completed high school but no further degrees, I would recommend leaving this section blank.
  • Skills: This is another underused section that can really help you. The skills section is basically a free chance to put in keywords that will make your profile more searchable. As long as you have a working knowledge of the skill, meaning you can execute independently, I would recommend that you add it.
  • Recommendations: Recommendations are a “nice to have” that hiring managers are neither for nor against. Generally speaking, it’s polite to exchange recommendations, meaning that when you ask someone for a recommendation, you should offer to write one for them. It’s good to get a mix of recommendations, so not only colleagues, but managers, suppliers, clients, professors etc.

Should I join LinkedIn Groups?

LinkedIn Groups can be helpful to stay up-to-date with your industry and serve as a forum to ask questions. When looking for groups, it’s good to take a look at who the group members are and where many of the group members are located as LinkedIn is a global platform.

Closed groups have benefits because the administrators ensure that the group acts as a forum for its industry members and minimize irrelevant content or solicitation by sales people and/or recruiters. With that said, group members often share job opportunities, so just because a group is closed does not mean that there will be less chance of finding a great new job there.

Do I have to post regularly?

This is the nice thing about LinkedIn; you don’t have to post often for your profile to be found in searches or to stay relevant.

If you complete your profile strategically, you will be found easily. You don’t need to copy/paste your entire résumé onto your LinkedIn profile. What recruiters, HR professionals and hiring managers are looking for is the overall experience the person has, so it’s not a question of the one with the most complete profile “wins”.

I would actually argue that you should not post to your network too often. Remember that LinkedIn is a professional platform and your entire network see what you post and comment on. Think of it as running through the halls of your workplace and yelling out to anyone who is there. If you’re sharing an article by a thought leader specific to your industry, this is a good idea because it’s professional and can help people. A meme however? Not so much… Remember that each social media platform has its function: save the fun you for Facebook and keep it classy on LinkedIn.

Who should I add to my LinkedIn contacts?

LinkedIn is a great way of staying in touch with your professional contacts. If you go to a networking event or a conference and you meet people, definitely add them to your LinkedIn. Think of it like exchanging business cards.

My rule of thumb is that if you have met the person in real life, you can add them to LinkedIn without it being in poor taste. If you are reaching out to someone who you don’t know, it’s basically the equivalent of cold-calling them. Some people will accept your invite, and some will not. If you see someone with the acronym LION in their headline, they are a LinkedIn Open Networker. This means that the person accepts everyone who sends them a request, and this will typically be a recruiter or a sales person.

You don’t need to be connected with a lot of people in order to be found, but I would recommend connecting with at least 10 or 20 people. As with every social media platform, LinkedIn also has fake profiles and the dead giveaway is generally the number of contacts. Many fake profiles have no picture and fewer than 10 or so contacts.

You’re all done!

If you have gone through these questions and answers and found that you have checked everything off, congratulations, you can pretty much “set it and forget it” and opportunities will come to you.

While LinkedIn offers much more, these are the basics to help the tool work for you. If you want to get active in your job search for 2017, feel free to check out my article How to conduct a thorough job search with less effort.