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10 Job-Search Tips to Perfect Your Online Profile

Potential employers in your job search can grab a panoramic view of the type of employee you would likely be, based on your experiences, skills, accumulated knowledge, and results portrayed in your online profile. If the person you project shows enough potential to land on a recruiter's A-list, you'll be contacted. Here are ten tips to step up your profile game.

Show your strengths

Focus the content on your professional expertise, benefits, and accomplishments. Itemize your current and past employment, education, industry, and know-how. Don't forget current professional memberships, awards, honors, and certifications. Contact info, including your phone number, is a must. Skip personal information, such as marital status.

Count on keywords

Be generous with relevant keywords throughout your profile so search engines come looking for you. Be sure to explain your job titles so search engines can do their job; merely listing yourself as a "consultant" without adding the keywords that identify the field (such as "consultant medial research") leaves you out in the cold.

Write conversationally

Employers don't hire profiles; they hire real people. Use short paragraphs and bullets. Lead off your profile with your impressive professional ammo. Write a sizzling opening summary loaded with requirements that job ads report to be important to employers in your sights, and then speak of your matching qualifications.

Sizzle with headline power

Pull in readers with energetic headlines, such as these examples:

Experienced software engineer brings green energy to market
Office bookkeeper with 100% accuracy record
Social media manager expert in Twitter, Facebook

Avoid stretching your versatility

Some people throw all their qualifications not on the wall to see what sticks, but into their profile to see what connects. They look like jacks-of-all-trades, but masters of none. Employers usually look for specialists, not generalists. (An exception is a mini-business where each member of the workforce must wear more than one hat.)

Include solid recommendations

Rather than dose your profile with empty self-praise, encourage others to laud your skills and qualities. You're more likely to impress when others comment on your work, such as bosses, coworkers, and customers. Factually explain how you made or saved money for the company. Tell how you delivered on a goal and how you earned top performance reviews. Emphasize provable accomplishments.

Maintain a complete, updated profile

A half-finished profile is unprofessional and unimpressive. Keep yours fresh and relevant. Most experts advise you to include an attractive and professional photo.

Omit personal data

Skip status updates that employers can live without knowing. Avoid joining groups or making connections that aren't relevant to your field. Don't put your home address, social security number, driver's or professional license numbers, or family information in your profile.

Restrict contact information to your phone number and e-mail and, if you have one, to a postal mail box address. Generally, treat personal identity information like a classified document to keep identity thieves away.

Find rewarding gardens of opportunity

Where should you plant your professional profile? The likely locations of most value are digital networks where you can make connections with people who share your interests in specific professional areas of expertise, such as information technology or journalism, retailing or insurance, medicine or marketing.

For job seekers, the social networks at the head of the parade continue to be LinkedIn and Google Plus. Additionally, if you have your own website or blog, post your profile there.

Facebook and Twitter are potential professional hosting perches. But a growing number of doubters aren't enthusiastic about using friendship and dating sites to park professional profiles.

A number of other free websites are available for professional profiles. Many are designed for entrepreneurs who market business products. Some are job-bidding sites. Others specialize in part-time work. Search the Internet to locate "free sites for your professional online profile."

Meet prize-winning profiles

Because some of the best online profiles are spread over many pages (far too many for reproduction in this guide), Career Directors International, the professional writers' association, has posted the winning entries of the six top profile winners of the organization's LinkedIn competition. View CDI'S blue-ribbon profiles.

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