LinkedIn is the professional networking tool you know you’re supposed to use, but you’re not quite sure how to. Luckily, I sat down with Yomaly Suero, a former business owner and NYC human resources professional with 10+ years of experience in recruiting, career coaching, and resume writing, who has taught workshops specifically on improving job seekers’ use of LinkedIn. Check out her tips below!
1. Use it.
“Most people just put their resume information up on LinkedIn and leave it at that, hoping employers will just find them; they don’t put any effort in,” Yomaly says. Her advice? Fill out your profile entirely and be proactive — just like you would go up to someone and introduce yourself at a networking event.
2. Absolutely include a photo.
Statistically, people who have pictures on their profiles are more likely to get seen — viewed on LinkedIn, and called in for interviews — than those who don’t. “HR professionals use LinkedIn as a database,” Yomaly says. “If they don't see your photo, they think you're not active and they won't contact you, and that's a missed opportunity.” Of course, make sure your profile photo is clear and professional. Think a high-quality, professional headshot with a neutral background — not a girls’ night out photo you cropped someone out of.
3. Craft your summary.
Your summary is key to helping you explain who you are and what you’re looking for to potential employers. “It's basically your answer to the ‘Tell me about yourself’ question, but on paper,” Yomaly says. And the main advantage? It doesn’t have to be as short as you would answer that infamous first question in an interview. “You can add more qualities and relevant strengths, things that your resume can't easily demonstrate, maybe more soft skills,” she says. Don’t overlook your headline, either — LinkedIn defaults it to “Current Role at Current Company,” but you do have the freedom to change it something less generic and more impactful!
4. Build your network.
“Add HR folks,” Yomaly says. “That's one of the biggest mistakes jobseekers make. They add friends and family, which is fine, but LinkedIn is for building business connections in your field!” She advises adding hire managers, CEOs, and VPs, as well as assistant managers, supervisors, and those who supervise interns or volunteers. “Anyone who makes a hiring decision. You want to be on their radar.” As you build your network, you should also be intentional about collecting effective endorsements — your profile should include five prioritized skills and endorsements that are specifically relevant to each one!
5. Fix your wording.
“You are indexed by your job titles, not by the lengthy descriptions you may (or may not) write under each job title,” Yomaly explains. “So make sure those titles fit what you want; then you can flesh out the job descriptions.” Similar to the way certain keywords should be on your resume, according to your industry, the same method applies to your LinkedIn profile. And absolutely show progression! If you had multiple roles at the company, it’s important to list each one and show that you were amazing enough to get promoted. Plus, additional relevant job titles never hurt anyone. She also added that while endorsements and recommendations are great, they’re ultimately not the make-or-break for calling someone in; for recruiters, it’s more about the job titles and accomplishments listed in the description sections.
6. Connect — personally.
Yomaly advises reaching out to make connections with anyone you think could be a great contact, even if you’re not actively job searching, and especially if you’ve recently applied to a job at their company. In her book, you should send inmail (essentially LinkedIn’s version of instant messaging) to attract attention when sending a connection request, then waiting a day or two before messaging once you've connected so you don’t seem desperate, but also stay up-to-date and timely. Her main advice to job seekers about messaging potential employers? “Don’t be too pushy. Thank the person for accepting your request, then tell them about your interest in the company. Then you can tell them you’ve applied to X posting, and they shouldn’t hesitate to contact you if they deem you’re a good fit.” It just adds a personal touch, and shows contacts that your follow-up skills are on point!
7. Keep it relevant.
When it comes to posting your own content, make sure you remember that this is a professional social network — not your personal Instagram or Facebook. Any articles you share or posts you create should be relevant to your field or to job searching in general, and absolutely no complaining. Also remember that, unless you’ve changed settings accordingly, your social network will receive updates anytime you upload a post. So make sure those status updates are worthwhile!
8. Apply to jobs!
The great thing about LinkedIn is it’s also a job search site in addition to being a professional networking and social media platform. Use the built-in search engine to apply to jobs! It’s easy and worth it!
Bottom line? Be proactive, be professional, and be targeted-- Just like you are in every other aspect of your search, dear job seeker!
Chelsea Fonden is a career coach and resume writer based in Brooklyn, NY. Over the past 5 years, she has worked with countless jobseekers across industries and professional levels, and holds a passion for women's advancement in the workplace. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Maryland and has worked for several NYC non-profits, as well as in freelance roles.