Is just filling out the basic information in your LinkedIn profile enough? Maybe, but why not take advantage of the other features available to really make your profile stand out?
LinkedIn is adding more sections all the time. To add a new section, look for the option on your profile to “add sections” which appears just below your profile summary box. A few to take note of:
At first glance, this seems redundant when compared to the Specialties area already in existence. What makes this a gem worth adding to your profile is that this is actually creating a database of skills on LinkedIn. If someone is looking to network with – or more importantly hire – someone with a particular skill, they can search the Skills section to bring up profiles with that specific skill listed. Additionally, you have the option of choosing where your skill level is at (number of years, etc.) An advanced people search can be done via keyword to bring up members with that word (in this case a skill), but the results can be overwhelming and may require the searcher to plow through each profile to determine whether that individual really has the skill they are looking for. Your profile risks being lost in a sea of results.
Many individuals have wanted to list volunteer experience in their profile, but weren’t sure where to put them. I still recommend listing significant volunteer opportunities in the Experience section just like a paid job. This makes it more visible and also allows the user to receive recommendations for the work performed. Sometimes, however, brief volunteer experiences or those of a smaller role may not lend themselves to a separate listing and may begin to clog up the Experience section if you are very active in the community. LinkedIn has provided a solution with a new section to list those volunteer jobs.
There is now a place to list the organizations you belong to, but may not hold a volunteer position with. Suppose you belong to a bird-watching club. Going out to watch birds with a group of like-minded individuals may not seem like an activity worth promoting professionally, However, if you are applying to a company that does environmental work this would demonstrate that you have a personal interest in that area. You may want to be judicious in what you list here if you belong to numerous organizations. If you belong to a political or purely social organization for example, you may carefully consider whether including that on a professional profile will help you in your career search.
If you hold the Certified Administrative Professional designation or other professional certification, then you certainly want to mention that on your profile wherever it is prudent to do so (Summary, Skills, Specialties). Now, there is one more place to do that. A section specifically created for you to list your certifications.
Other additional sections to take note of: Honors and Awards, Publications, Languages, and especially helpful for students, a section to list Courses that have been taken if competency in a particular area needs to be demonstrated.
Applications are another great way to beef up your profile and demonstrate your abilities. There are two ways to add them, first you can choose them from the “Add Sections” window or you can find them by mousing over More in the static menu that runs across the top of the LinkedIn page. Here are a few:
Box.Net is by far my favorite application. This one should be on every user’s profile. Box.Net is a file storage website which allows you to upload and share files with others. While the LinkedIn website provides a “print to PDF” function to create a “resumé” that can be printed, it is not formatted well and will be much longer than a traditional resumé. Instead, why not add the Box.Net application and upload a copy of your résumé? I do recommend removing most of your personal contact information before doing this unless you are comfortable having it available to potentially all LinkedIn members. If you have formal letters of recommendation, you can upload those as well (you might consider removing personal contact information from these and/or asking permission from the writers). Box.Net allows multiple file formats to be uploaded although free members of Box.Net are limited in storage capacity. Even better, viewing and downloading is not limited to LinkedIn members. Each file uploaded has a unique web address which you can choose to share with anyone.
Are you attending a workshop? Or perhaps you are hosting a networking dinner. Events is a calendar application that allows you to let others know what events you will be attending. The Events application even lets you send a message out to your contacts with a link to the event listing and display RSVPs to the event. You can search for events in a specific location and also see what your contacts are attending.
Google Presentations and SlideShare Presentations
Have you created a really great presentation? Perhaps it shares really insightful information about your industry or maybe you have created a visual résumé for yourself. LinkedIn gives you two options to put presentations on your profile with Google Presentations and SlideShare Presentations. A bonus tip: if you have created a video and want visitors to your profile to be able to see without leaving the website, embed the video in a presentation.
Tweets, Word Press and Blog Link
Do you have a Twitter account or blog with a professional bent? LinkedIn makes it easy to show your Tweets and/or blog postings on your profile with these applications. Make sure the content is professional and of interest to your connections. If you don’t regularly update your blog or Twitter account, then I wouldn’t recommend using the application as it won’t represent you well to have out-of-date information on your profile. A bonus tip: there is an option with the Tweets application to only post Tweets to your profile that include the special LinkedIn hashtag. This way only the Tweets you want your connections to see are displayed and you avoid overwhelming your connections’ activity feed if you Tweet a lot.
Updates can be a great way to keep your name in front of your connections and to engage them. The first rule of thumb is to limit your updates to about once a day, especially if you also Tweet regularly and have your Twitter account connected to your LinkedIn profile. Don’t annoy your connections with frequent posts that crowd out updates from their other contacts. The second rule of thumb is to keep the updates professional. What may be appropriate for Facebook, may not be appropriate for LinkedIn. Remember, many of your connections may not know you on a social level and may prefer to keep your relationship professional. For example, if you just ate at a great restaurant you would like to rave about, on Facebook a post such as “Just ate at Aunt Mary’s Diner and it was fantastic!” would be fine. Not so much on LinkedIn. However, you can turn that into an appropriate LinkedIn update by inquiring whether anyone has used their catering services before or if someone can introduce you to the owner. Updates are a great way to let others know about projects you are working on (be careful not to reveal anything confidential!), a speaker you heard, a book you just finished, or link to an article you found particularly interesting. Some users will ask open-ended questions as an update to hear from their connections and possibly help people “meet” each other. If you have a Twitter account, LinkedIn gives you the option of creating a Tweet out of your update. You can also choose to display the update to anyone that visits your profile or limit it to only your contacts.
There are several other applications available including the Amazon Reading List, Polls, and My Travel – an application which tracks your trips and mileage.
As LinkedIn continues to add new features and change the way professionals think about résumés, it is important to make use of what the site has to offer. Don’t let your profile get left in the dust!