14 Simple But Effective LinkedIn Tips (Why You Need a LinkedIn Part 2)

In my last blog post, I talked about the importance for any aspiring or working professional (inside OR outside of HR) to not only have but actively use LinkedIn.  When I say “actively,” I mean actually use it.  Many people will set up a sub-par and boring profile, and will only get on the site when they have a new invite connection.  Having a LinkedIn just to have a LinkedIn defeats the purpose of it all together.  You don’t put all that time and effort into constructing a resume to not use it.  Same goes with LI (abbreviation for LinkedIn…kind of like FB for Facebook).  It is still a social networking site, so you need to be social.

I will give you some simple but effective tips to amp up your LinkedIn page.

1) Picture: You need to have a photo of yourself.  I find it very annoying (and I’m sure recruiters do as well) when you see this faceless image on someone’s profile.  It should look professional, so a good head shot of you in interview attire is great.  I currently do not have any good picture of myself in a suit or tie, but when I do I am changing it immediately.  Now, some people are afraid of discrimination or something.  First of all, recruiters should know the law and wouldn’t risk doing that.  Plus, if a recruiter actually does not have any human decency and would discriminate against you because of what you look like then would you really want to work there?  Now, if you have a picture of yourself shotgunning a beer that may be different (e.g. DON’T do that), but if you follow my advice with the head shot then you should be good.  I mean, you don’t go to a career fair or an interview with a bag over your head?

2) Tagline: Most individuals’ taglines will say their current positions at their jobs.  It also already says that in your work experience section.  Instead, it should be something about you that is distinctive.  My tagline says “Budding HR Professional and Graduate Student”.  Maybe not the most impressive title but it is still a much more interesting than “Human Resources Specialist”.

I’ll use my best friend Eric J Dosch for example.  His LI profile currently says “HR Intern at ExxonMobil.”  First of all E, your internship is over.  Second, I almost slipped into unconsciousness from reading that tagline.  A better version would be “Experienced Veteran and Graduate Student Emerging Into The HR Profession” (or something along those lines).  This comments on his a) work experience b) veteran status because many employers look for that with their EEO stuff-my past internship did and c) that he is emerging…aka has HR experience but needs a job.  You’re welcome Eric. 🙂

3) Posting:  YOU NEED TO POST.  It shows that you are actively on LinkedIn and that you can be contacted.  As I said before, some people don’t use LinkedIn, and if you don’t look like you use it than a recruiter may not make the effort to contact you.  Now you don’t have to go crazy like Twitter and they should not include how excited about the EOTW you’re going to like on Facebook.  I normally like to post things that are work related or things that I am doing at work.  However, they should not be things you complain about, because you don’t want your coworkers you’re linked to to tell on you.  My team had a retreat on Wednesday, so I posted about that.  If I can’t think of anything, I will normally try to post something related to the business or the HR world (or whatever your profession/career might be).  Today, I posted a link about how the US economy has added 103, 000 jobs in the month of September.  This also shows that you’re knowledgeable about your field, the world of business, and that you care about the news (hint: Twitter is a really helpful source of info in, more or less, real-time).  I check LI at least once a day I’m at work to post something.

4) Recommendations:  You know how employers do reference checks? BAM.  No need if you already have a professional who has given you a strong recommendation.  The more the merrier (for my current job I would love three).  I currently do not have any recommendations, because my old boss doesn’t believe in LI and isn’t social media savvy. But I’m working on it …

5) Website:  Putting a link to your company, student organization, or school website is good.  TIP:  LI will give you a list of options like Personal Website, Company Website, etc and then you can add the link.  When you go to someone’s LI, it just says “Personal Website.”  INSTEAD, you should use “Other” and then you can put a name to your website.  So instead of “Company Website”, I have “Columbus St. Community College”.

6) Summary:  Once again, try not to be boring.  I talk about what I do, what I want to do, and eventually a generalization of my experience and skills.  But you also want to demonstrate you aren’t a robot and was born with a soul, so I also put some personal information about how I support Nationwide Children’s Hospital and have a link to my BuckeyeThon page so people can donate money.  I would leave out stupid quotes and how you like cars or shopping from this summary.

7) Specialties/Skills: Definitely have them, but be real about them.  Just because you took a Research Methods class, does not mean that is your specialty.  No one likes a liar, and that is embarrassing if you can’t demonstrate it in an interview.

8) Resume: There is a nice feature that allows you to upload your resume.  Make sure you adjust the formatting, and if you have already put up some positions, make sure you delete them so that it doesn’t show that you were a GA five times on your work experience.  NOTE: Just because you have the option to write more about your experience doesn’t mean you should.  No one cares about every single thing you did…keep it standard resume length.

9) Publications:  This may not apply to a lot of people, but we are in grad school.  You may want to include a thesis, long paper, or anything published here.  I was a journalism major in undergrad, so I posted all the stories I wrote.  I will probably delete them later in my work experience since I have switched career paths.

10) Education: Include it.  Also, this is where you can include that extra stuff that your one page resume did let you fit in about student organizations and leadership positions you were involved with.  You can also get recommendations, but that is not as important as the ones from your employer (maybe helpful if you don’t have that much work experience). ALSO: Listing “Graduate Student” I think is fine if you’re unemployed for occupation but listing that you’re the “President at [Student Org]” under Education is something I wouldn’t do (but that’s a personal opinion).

11) Groups: JOIN THEM.  Ones in your profession, ones in industries you are in/would like to get in.  This allows you to expand your network with strangers.  And many recruiters will join groups related to their industry to find talent.

12) Honors and Awards: Once again, I don’t have room for this on my actual resume so list them here!

13) Contact/Personal Information:  You should have the information you want posted so that you can be contacted.  You should also have an open profile so that recruiters can look at you, and definitely do not make it so that someone needs to know your email to link with you.  Also, make sure people can InMail you.  Don’t give people to much work to contact you or they may not bother.  PS: information about your birthday and marital status are irrelevant.

14) Using Connections:  Once you’re linked with someone you can go through person’s links as well in your search for whatever (so get started!).  Also, there are a number of search features you can use to ID what you want to look for.

Like FB, when it comes to LI, you shouldn’t just go and link with random people.  You’ll look like a lunatic, and it will probably get denied anyway.  The best thing to do is to ask if it is okay to link with someone you don’t know by sending them an InMail.  Normally, if you explain why you would like to link with them, instead of doing it, you appear like a rational human being, and it is more likely to be accepted.  Plus, by establishing communication you are doing that whole networking thing.  Asking to be someone’s LI friend really isn’t that much networking.  Recruiters tend to do the same.

Sorry this was lengthy but hope this was helpful.  Feel free to link in with me here (no need to InMail)

Why You Need A LinkedIn Profile

Well it is currently that crazy, exciting/nightmarish (depending on how many offer/rejection letters you receive) time of the year known as recruiting season.  Unfortunately, due to our soon to be “deceased” quarter system, Fisher graduate students have historically been at a “timing” disadvantage in getting internships and jobs since many students at other universities have already had midterms by the time we finally have had our first day of class.  Fortunately, though, the Fisher graduate programs are amazing as are their students.  Thus, many big companies are very willing to wait the time for Ohio State/ Fisher graduate students to start and get them into their company.

One of the biggest things I tell students to do as they search for employment is to create and actively use a LinkedIn profile.

LinkedIn is the largest professional networking site in the world.  Notice how the word networking is in bold.  Every time you see your career advisor, or anyone you ask “how do I get a job” related question in Fisher, he or she will tell you to NETWORK.  Last year I just wanted to say to people “Ok. WE GET IT.”  As many times as your ears may ring from hearing that phrase, get some gauze because it is extremely true.  But let’s face it, networking can be uncomfortable and sometimes really awkward face to face.  That’s why LinkedIn is so perfect!  It allows you to professionally network and remove the initial awkwardness.  And by the time you have established some communication with someone over the Internet and actually encounter them in person, it can take away a lot of that initial awkwardness.

(Don’t go just “Linking In” with people you don’t know or you’ll look like a crazed freak.  More on this next week).

My organization, Columbus State Community College, just started using LinkedIn and paid a decent amount of $$$s to set up a contract with LinkedIn.  The reason I deem this important to put into this blog is due to the fact that we are in a transition of having a transactional HR department to a more strategic one.  We don’t even have recruiters or someone who mainly focuses on bringing in our talent … our HR Representatives do it (among the million other things they have to do).  However, our department thought, in our steps to evolving as an HR department, that it was very important to start using LinkedIn.  If a local community college deems it important, than I can guarantee practically every person you are talking to at career fairs are using it.

LinkedIn is transforming the way recruiters recruit.  From an HR side, it gives us access to millions of people/resumes/profiles that we can search for down to what we want.  It has made things so much easier.  I sat in on a webinar a few weeks ago and this recruiting consultant who does training for many corporate recruiters praised it up and down, and he said he enjoyed using it so much that if he weren’t so “experienced” he would be a recruiter again (since this tool was not available to him at the time he coming up through the ranks).  It is also nice because it is one of the few social networking sites that tends to be acceptable to be on at work.

Now, some may disagree that using this at work means you’re trying to leave your job.  Perhaps – but it is actually better if more employees are connected.  It is a lot easier to sift through the connections of your employees (who know good people) than random people who you may not be able to see their entire profiles, because you’re not connected.  All employees should be encouraged to broaden their network (so your HR department can use you through your networks).  Any employer who doesn’t encourage this is limiting themselves, and making the lives of their recruiters a lot harder.

I was going to insert my personal tips on how to use LinkedIn, but I think this post has been long enough.  So I will save that for next week.  Plus, Ringer is about to come on.


Networking that is social

It’s drilled into our heads that we need to network, network, network.  Network to make professional connections, network to meet your colleagues, network to find an internship, network to network for networking sake.

It sounds boring and arduous and burdensome, doesn’t it?  So let’s make it dynamic and aligned with our daily lives and our recreational activities.

One of the incredible things that resulted from our orientations was this realization:  when I added my classmates on Facebook, we already had mutual friends.  Some of them made sense, like my friends that worked for the university knew my new classmates who worked for the university.  Some of them were a bit more incredible, like my new classmate happened to be the former manager of one of my friends when they worked together at Starbucks.  Another classmate knew a friend of mine from back home in DC.  Small, small world that gets smaller with each connection.

Now imagine if we applied this to Linkedin.  Instead of just having a new friend to chat with on Facebook during class or funny Halloween profile photos to look at, imagine if your new connection connected you to someone who can help you get your dream internship, or if they themselves could connect you to that internship.

By now, you are probably connected to most, if not all, of your classmates.  What about new connections?  Remember that hilarious new friend that you met at the bar?  What if you dug a little deeper and started talking to them about their work life, profession and affiliations?  Connect.  You never know who you might get linked to.

So instead of adding them on Facebook, or even in addition to it, add them on Linkedin.  And it’s easy to do too.  A Linkedin app is available for the iPhone and the Blackberry.  Try it and see what happens!