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RDC Career Services: Improve your LinkedIn profile

Submitted by
Michelle Brown

It’s a tricky time for job seekers right now. Our economic environment paired with COVID-19 restrictions make it challenging to connect with potential employers and professional networks in traditional ways. This fall, RDC Career Services shares tools and resources that can help you search for career opportunities in a virtual environment.   

When you’re looking to purchase a product or try a new restaurant, what’s your first step? For most of us, it’s an online search. You probably read about the product on an online store, or seek out reviews and more information, like size or materials. You might read Trip Advisor reviews to learn more about a new restaurant or check out an online version of the menu.  

Think of LinkedIn as the same type of resource for employers who are hiring. Whether they’ve looked you up specifically or you’ve ended up in their search results, your LinkedIn profile is your virtual professional presence and it should give the same impression you would hope give an interviewer, recruiter or potential employer in person.  

You might think that the platform only has value for business, entrepreneurial or marketing professionals and, as a social network, some of the most widely shared resources might be most useful for these types of fields. However, maintaining a profile is useful for anyone who is looking for work, open to learning about new opportunities, or who wants to contribute to developing the field they work in.  

Even if the social networking aspects don’t appeal to you, you should consider creating and maintaining a professional profile. Whether you’re in trades, health care, education, visual or performing arts, or any other field, you can benefit from spending a little time ensuring that your profile accurately reflects your professional self. We’ve compiled some tips for putting your best virtual foot forward on LinkedIn: 

Your professional presence: 

  1. Your profile image: 
    The image should be a professional looking photo of you. Consider what you might look like if you were meeting recruiters and employers at a career fair and emulate those standards. Visit the profiles of other users in your field and think about what their photos say about them.  

  1. Your profile summary: 
    A strong profile summary is both your elevator pitch and a tool to help you show up in searches. The summary should be just a few sentences, but try to include the key skills, traits and experiences that are important for your industry. Choosing words strategically will help you rise to the top for searchers. At the same time, it should feel authentic and specific – you want to stand out, so think about what makes you unique, or why you do the work you do. 

  1. Be honest: 
    Don’t embellish or misrepresent your skills, experience or work history. That’s never a good look but, in a virtual environment, you can expect to be called out for it by past employers or coworkers.  

Showcasing your skills: 

  1. Skills & Endorsements: 
    Creating your list of skills will help your profile appear in searches by recruiters and potential employers. The more skills you add and the greater the variety, the more likely you are to show up these searches. If you’re having a hard time articulating your skills, review job postings in your field for inspiration and the right words. As you build a network, your coworkers can also endorse these skills. 

  1. Demonstrate your skills: 
    You can post about specific experiences, projects or activities on LinkedIn to demonstrate the skills in your list. Maybe you have images of a construction project you worked on, or a moving story about leading a project team. Sharing a post about the work you’ve done and are proud of is one way that you can “endorse” your own skills list. You can use the Featured section of your profile to highlight these posts or posts by other users about work that you’ve done.   

  1. Add your Education, Certifications and Volunteer experiences, as well as work experience:
    These can help you show a broader and more varied list of skills, underscore your passions and values, and add to your professional network.  

Your network: 

  1. Endorsing skills: 
    This is the easiest and quickest way for you and your network to support each other. Once you start endorsing the skills of others, LinkedIn will notify those users and ask if they want to endorse skills for you. Spend a little time regularly endorsing the skills of your connections. 

  1. Recommendations: 
    Don’t be shy about asking your network to write a recommendation for you. Ask instructors, coworkers, former employers and supervisors who speak to the different characteristics that you want to emphasize. Think of those key skills, experiences and traits from your profile summary, and try to select individuals who can speak to those. 

  1. Join groups:
    Jumping into the main feed of your LinkedIn network can be intimidating, but you can join smaller groups with a specific focus and network with those individuals. Most of the time, active members of these groups post useful resources, tools and opportunities for users in a specific field. Group members can also serve as an important source of support and encouragement as you continue to develop in your career.  

LinkedIn is often the first stop for the person reading your resume or following up on a recommendation, so be aware of what your profile looks like and make sure that it’s describing you in the most accurate and useful way possible.  

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