A little over a decade ago networking with colleagues and potential employers was done directly for the most part. As part of our society’s transition into the digital era, we have digitized this process into what we call social networks. One of these networks in-particular has emerged as a professional networking tool that connects potential employees with prospective employers and gives the employee a chance to sell themselves via a digital profile. This is, of course, LinkedIn which launched in 2003 and serves as a professional network to over 259 million users as they last reported.
The basic functionality of LinkedIn is available to anyone, so making your profile standout among the others competing for your position is worth putting effort into. Researchers at the University of Brussels recently conducted a study, on the influences that social networks have on recruitment and selection procedures, in which they found that nearly 71% of employers use LinkedIn to find additional information on potential employees. Knowing how to maximize the positive influence your profile could have on your prospective employer could be a huge benefit if done properly.
So how do we make the most of our LinkedIn profiles? The first thing that should be done is completing the basics of the profile (i.e. your industry, current/past positions, education, profile picture, etc.), LinkedIn itself walks the user through this part, so there is no excuse to not have this completed. While filling out these details, your profile should be as detailed as possible, don’t be coy, show off your qualifications to your employer, your LinkedIn profile is your chance at marketing your skills and experience (Caers, 2010). Your profile may also serve as a indication of your personality to the employer as well; this is why you’ll want your profile picture to be a simple and professional head-shot that establishes the perception that you are professional.
Making the profile look good is half the battle, if you want to truly optimize your LinkedIn profile, making it visible will greatly increase its benefit. Part of this is growing your network out via friends, past and present coworkers, or other people you know on LinkedIn. Connecting to all these people makes you more relevant in their search results, a good position to be in if they ever need your advertised skills. In terms of visibility, having a fully completed profile helps us out once again, by having all this detailed information completed; search engines are more likely to pick out keywords relevant to your area of expertise in your profile and far more likely to populate the search results, of a search query by a recruiter possibly, with your profile as one of the results.
So there you have it, building an effective LinkedIn profile is worth the relatively small time investment, getting your skills and experience out onto the internet for employers to see could connect you with many opportunities that could have otherwise eluded you.
Caers, R., & Castelyns, V. (2010). LinkedIn and Facebook in Belgium: the influences and biases of social network
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Seiden, J. (2013, July 17). How to Create an Effective LinkedIn Profile. Retrieved October 19, 2014.