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How to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile for Job Searching

The core of your LinkedIn presence is your profile, which is included with every job application you make on LinkedIn. Odds are good that prospective employers are going to check your LinkedIn profile when evaluating you for a job, so you want to make sure your profile is optimized to make you as appealing as possible.

Here are some things to keep in mind when bulking up your profile for a job search:

  • Complete all the sections in your profile with as much accurate information as possible. It's easy to put up a skeleton of your employment history and never get around to fully completing your profile. Unlike a resume (where you could feel confined in terms of page length), you can be as expansive as you want with your LinkedIn profile.

    You never know what part of your profile will get you included in someone's search result, but the more information you provide, the better chance someone will find you. Most important, make sure your most recent positions are filled out, because many employers focus on those positions first.

  • Focus on accomplishments rather than duties. Lots of people prepare their LinkedIn profiles in the same way they do their resumes, focusing solely on the duties they performed at each job. Although you want to give people an idea of what you did, hiring managers want to know the results of what you did, and the more concrete the example, the better.

    Saying you “organized procurement processes in your division” may demonstrate a skill, but saying that you “cut procurement costs by 16% in your first year” makes a bigger impact. Go back and talk to past co-workers or bosses, if necessary, to get whatever specifics they can provide on your performance.

  • Add all relevant job search keywords, skill sets, and buzzwords to your profile. When employers are searching for someone to hire, they may simply search for a core set of skills. Therefore, just stating your job titles is not enough. If your profile says “Software Developer,” hiring managers could assume that you're qualified, but the only way you'd be considered is if managers ran a search on those keywords.

    Say that a hiring manager does a search for the programming languages C++, Java, Perl, and Python. If all those keywords are not somewhere in your profile, you won't show up in the list to be considered at all. If you're unsure about what keywords to use, consider asking people in your field or researching the profiles of people who have the job title you are seeking.

  • See how other people position themselves. Imagine if you could get a book of thousands of resumes from current employees that you could then use as models to position yourself. Do a search for people with a job, education, or skill set similar to yours and see how they've worded their profiles. Use that insight to adapt your profile to make it clearer.

  • List all your job experiences on your profile, not just full-time positions. Did you do any short-term or contract jobs? Were you an advisor to another company? Perhaps you're a board member for a local nonprofit group or religious organization. Your LinkedIn profile is designed to reflect all of your job experiences, which is not limited to a full-time job that provided a W-2 slip.

    Document any work experience that adds to your overall profile, whether you were paid for that job/experience or not.

Make sure that every experience you list on your profiles helps contribute to your overall career goals. After all, employers might not care that you were a pastry chef one summer — and will question why you thought it was so important that you listed it on your profile.

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