Connect, Link—and Score

These tips will help you create a LinkedIn presence that plays to your strengths.

Membership in this social media networking service has been growing like crazy, with more than 225 million members worldwide including 77 million in the United States. Think of it as Facebook, only for your professional self. It’s a great way to find people you might know at companies you’re interested in.

Recruiters are increasingly making use of LinkedIn, too, which means if you’re looking for a job, you need to be on it, says David G. Robins, a trainer, facilitator, and consultant who teaches LinkedIn workshops at Jewish Vocational Services in San Francisco. In fact, you should have a presence on the network even if you’re not looking for a job. It’s becoming an increasingly valuable tool for making connections, tracking trends, and showcasing your professional accomplishments.

HEAD SHOT

Include a professional head shot. “Recruiters won’t look at a profile without a photograph,” Robins says.

SHARING

Broadcast judiciously. While you’re getting started, go into your privacy settings and turn off the broadcast feature. That way the people in your network won’t be notified of every new element you add to your profile. (Just be sure to turn it back on when you’re done and ready to go public.) Once you’re up and running, be thoughtful about what you post and share.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Fill out your profile with recommendations from former bosses and co-
workers. Robins is less enthusiastic about the service’s new endorsements feature, which lets contacts endorse you for a particular skill with a single click. “Endorsements are too easy,” he says. “I get endorsements from people who never saw my work.” But references, he says, are taken seriously.

TITLE & SUMMARY

Make sure your headline and summary read really well. You want to be succinct, but you have more leeway than on a résumé to convey your personality. In the description of your career, the value you provided to your employer should be clear.

GROUPS

Join a group or three related to your professional interests and take part in discussions. If you’re job hunting, posting comments that demonstrate your expertise may help get you a recruiter’s attention.

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