Ten tips to enhance your job search on LinkedIn

April 2, 2009

Alison Doyle's (About.com) post on LinkedIn

[Editor’s Note: This belongs to a series of contributing guest author posts from LinkedIn users. Alison Doyle is a job search expert with many years of experience in human resources, career development, and job searching, with a focus on online job searching and job search technology. She has covered job searching for About.com since 1998.]

When you’re job searching, and even if you’re not currently seeking employment, LinkedIn is the one site you should be using to enhance your job search and boost your career prospects. The best way to do that is to make sure you are using the full power of LinkedIn to maximize your employment potential. Here are ten tips on optimizing your job hunting experience on LinkedIn:

1. Edit your Profile. The first step is to make sure your LinkedIn Profile is complete.  The more detailed your LinkedIn profile, the more chances you will have to be found and to be contacted. This is important because your profile is what you use to connect with people how you get found on LinkedIn.  Complete your LinkedIn profile as carefully as you write your resume and provide prospective employers with detailed information on your skills and experience.  If you’re currently unemployed, list your current position as "Open to opportunities". If you don't have a LinkedIn profile, sign-up.

2. Include a Photo. You can add a photo (a head shot is recommended) to your LinkedIn profile. Note that the photo can be no larger than 80x80 pixels.  Do make sure your photo represents the professional you, not the personal you, because LinkedIn is all about professional networking.

3. Professional Summary. The Professional Summary section of your profile is a good way to highlight your experience. Select an Industry, because recruiters often use that field to search. Don't forget the Headline, because that's right at the top of the page when someone views your profile. It’s your first chance to make a good impression.

4. Include Keywords and Skills. Include the keywords and skills from your resume in your profile. This will make it easier for your profile to be found in search results.

5. Contact Settings. Your contact settings let your connections (and hiring managers and recruiters) know your availability. Options include: career opportunities, consulting offers, new ventures, job inquiries, and reference requests. Even if you're not actively seeking a new job, it's important to be flexible, because you never know when an opportunity to good to pass up might come along.

6. Profile Website Links. The Links section of your profile is a good way to provide even more information to potential employers and to your contacts.  If you have blog or a personal web site that is business related, include those links in the Links section of your profile.

7. LinkedIn Applications. LinkedIn Applications are a terrific way to share even more information in your profile. The blog applications enable users to feed their blog directly to their profile, so other LinkedIn users can see the most current posts automatically.

8. Your Public Profile. Don't forget to make your profile public - that's how the world can find it.  Also, customizing your URL will give you a link that's easy to share.

9. Grow Your Network. Connect with other members and build your network. You can find connections you’ve worked with, done business with, went to school with, or are otherwise affiliated with. The more connections you have, the more opportunities you have, but don't randomly connect with people you don't know. The point is to connect with people you do know, so they can help you and vice versa.

10. Get Recommendations. To a potential employer, a LinkedIn recommendation is an opportunity to read a reference in advance. Having strong references can only help you when it comes to getting selected for an interview or for a job.  The best way to get recommendations is to give them, so take some time to write recommendations for your contacts and they will most likely reciprocate.

Feel free to share any additional LinkedIn tips on successful job hunting in the comments section