Heather Livingston is a career counselor at University of Phoenix. When advising students on how to get ahead in their job search, she always recommends that they create and maintain a LinkedIn profile to build their professional network and stay in the know about upcoming job opportunities. More specifically, using LinkedIn is a proven tool for personalizing your online brand and helping your application stand out from other candidates.
If you are wondering why LinkedIn matters so much when building your online brand, the metrics speak for themselves. According to Livingston, “LinkedIn is an ideal place to build your online brand because when you create a LinkedIn profile, you become part of the world’s largest online professional network.” Over 600 million professionals have a LinkedIn profile, and over 40 million LinkedIn members occupy roles that drive business decisions. Livingston notes that these “hold director-level positions and above.” Additionally, nine out of 10 recruiters use LinkedIn to find talent and vet candidates before an interview. To make LinkedIn’s metrics even more impressive, over 6.8 million of the website’s members are C-level executives.
What even is LinkedIn, anyway?
It is clear that strategically using LinkedIn can help you get noticed by influential members of organizations you admire and aspire to work for. People categorize LinkedIn as a social media platform, but its function and content are unique from anything you have ever seen before. Livingston says that LinkedIn is “a professional networking site designed to connect people to opportunities.” Because it connects professionals with opportunities of interest, you should not use LinkedIn as you would any other social media platform.
Of course, you should be professional in all of your online activity, but you should especially put your best foot forward on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is not a place to upload photos from your weekend vacation, even if your caption has something to do with work. If your social circle is mostly from work, that does not mean you should communicate with coworkers on LinkedIn the way you would on Instagram or Facebook.
Remember that LinkedIn is a place to enhance your online brand, not detract from your professionalism. Although LinkedIn requires more mindfulness than a strictly social networking website, that does not mean you cannot highlight some personal accomplishments. It is also worth noting that connecting people to opportunities offers value to organizations. A growing number of companies are turning to LinkedIn to promote their recent accomplishments and share that they have new roles to fill.
How do I know if my profile is complete?
Building a LinkedIn profile does not have to be time consuming. You can get up and running quickly by following Livingston’s criteria for a complete profile.
First, you will need to choose a profile photo to put a face to your name. According to Livingston, “this should be a high quality image with a neutral background.” In your photo, your attire should show that “you’re dressed appropriately for your profession.”
Listing your educational accomplishments on your profile is another excellent way to build your network. Says Livingston, “Including your education enables recruiters to find you by searching for the school you attended or the degree you earned.” You will also want to be mindful of the location and industry you select on your profile. Livingston notes that your location and industry “information also make it easy for recruiters to find you when they are looking for talent by region or industry expertise.”
Next, be sure to have at least 50 or more connections on your LinkedIn profile. Livingston finds that “if you have less than 50 connections, it probably means you are not engaged in your professional life or maintaining your professional relationships.” You will also want to list a minimum of three skills on your profile that are unique to your desired industry. Livingston explains that “skills act as keywords” on LinkedIn “because they are searchable by recruiters who are looking for people with your talent.”
Lastly, be sure to include your current employment along with a description and two of your past positions on your profile. Top it all off with a compelling, succinct summary of your professional background and goals, and you are all set to use LinkedIn as a brand personalization tool.
About University of Phoenix
University of Phoenix opened its doors in 1976 with the specific intention to make higher education more accessible to anyone looking to learn. Nearly 50 years later, the University continues to fulfill this commitment through its robust online learning programs. These flexible remote modules empower students, especially adult learners, to earn an education with the flexibility needed for their busy lives from home.
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