Facebook is Great, but What’s it Doing for Your Career?
If you are a typical Facebook user, you spend over 15 hours a month connecting via the site. It may be great for your social life (although the jury is out on that one) but one thing I know for sure, it’s not doing a whole lot for your career.
Don’t get me wrong. I love social media, the value of it’s unique reach and what it can do to support your career, it’s just that your personal Facebook feed does not represent you well as a potential employee.
LinkedIn is where the juice is
LinkedIn has successfully established itself as the recruiting / job placement resource on the web. Whether you are on the “buying” or the “selling” side of the job search, LinkedIn is a destination you have to visit. To some, this may appear to be stating the obvious…yes, we’ve all heard about LinkedIn and many of us have done the initial set-up for our profiles. The problem is that it usually stops there, with no updating and barely a thought about building our professional “friends” list. Trust me, I’ve met many IT pros whose LinkedIn profiles are unimpressive, to say the least.
Are you proud of your LinkedIn profile?
You should be. It is often the first professional impression you will make.When someone wants to check you out as a professional, they’re going to look on LinkedIn. When you’re looking for a job, LinkedIn should be the first place you look for connections and leads. When recruiters are looking, they’re going to be looking at your LinkedIn profile…guaranteed.
What if you took half the time you’re currently spending on Facebook and spent it on improving your presence on LinkedIn? What would 7½ hours a month give you in moving toward your professional goals?
With even a small investment of time, you can vastly improve your LinkedIn presence. Make it a game for yourself and it could even be fun. After all, there’s a lot of the same connecting, reconnecting, catching up, sharing and chatting that makes Facebook so compelling, but LinkedIn provides it for the professional side of your life.
Complete Your LinkedIn Profile!
Just having the basics in place is a huge improvement over a half-completed profile that looks abandoned.
Your profile should show where you’re heading, not just where you’ve been.
Get the following in place:
Picture: People want to see a picture, and for people you’re reconnecting with, or met once at a networking event, it will help them remember who you are. Have a current picture in which you look professional. “Professional” means, look like the person who has the job you want.
Summary: Look at examples and think about what will best represent you: short and no nonsense? longer and more of a story? Whatever style you choose, make sure you state your strengths, major accomplishments and your professional direction.
Experience: Fill out your job descriptions with skills and accomplishments; include relevant volunteer positions
Education: List your degrees and relevant non-degree training
Skills & Expertise: Add at least a dozen keywords to this section. You know you have more skills than that! Highlight the skills you would most want a future employer to see.
Recommendations: Give and Get
Recommendations on LinkedIn should be short and to the point. Start by writing recommendations for a few people you’ve worked with, this includes colleagues and superiors…yes, you can recommend a boss too! You’ll be surprised what a few kind words about a former employer can do for getting a powerful recommendation back from them.
Ask people you have strong relationships with to write recommendations for you. Let them know the skills you want highlighted. Have them send the recommendation to you before submitting it through LinkedIn so that you can request any changes to substance or to correct a typo. Don’t be bashful about making any correction requests! Ideally, you want at least three strong and specific recommendations relevant to your current career goals displayed on your profile. If you don’t have three, not a big deal, but you have to start somewhere. Get one done, and build over time (just as you do with Facebook). It doesn’t have to be perfect out of the gate.
Expanding Your Network
You need a critical mass of connections to leverage your presence on LinkedIn. The more connections you have, the more people will find you and the more people you can find. When you are looking for a connection at a company you are researching, it could be a connection’s connection that is just the person you want to be introduced to.
LinkedIn can search your email contacts for suggestions for who to invite to connect. Use the advanced search feature to find people who have worked at the same companies as you or went to the same school. Invite, invite, invite.
Join professional groups that match your career goals and make yourself known by making intelligent contributions to conversations. And by asking intelligent questions! Connect with alum and other shared interest groups to expand your network even further.
A Special Note on Connecting with Recruiters
Even if you’re not looking for a job right now, it is always good to be ready for a job search. If a recruiter approaches you and you are not interested, respond to them anyway saying that you are not currently available, but would like to stay in touch for the future. Make them an actual LinkedIn connection. This will help keep you on their radar for opportunities that arise, and you will know who to contact when you want to initiate a job search. As a bonus, the recruiters will be updated whenever you make a change to your profile.
You can also search for recruiters on LinkedIn and invite them to connect with you. You can then send them a message introducing yourself and explaining what you are looking for, or that you are connecting for the future.
Maintain a Presence
Like with all social media, you need to check in regularly, keep your information current, and stay active in communities to reap the greatest benefits. But even a little will go a long way.
So, next time you’re thinking of checking in on Facebook,
swing by LinkedIn first and put some of that energy into your career.
It might even be fun.