Be honest: When's the last time you reviewed your profile on LinkedIn? If you're looking for a job, it's not only time to update your profile so you're more findable. It's also time to sift through the connections you have for avenues to potential employers. You can up your job-search game without leaving your desk simply by following these five pieces of LinkedIn-related advice.
Write a headline with purpose.
Be specific. Whatever you put for a headline on your LinkedIn profile, make sure it packs a wallop, advises Susan P. Joyce in an article on the Huffington Post. Jam it with information -- don't just refer to yourself by your current title, refer to the next job you'd like to have. Think about the future state. Use keywords that describe the position you want to have: rather than just, "operations manager," Joyce advises, headline your profile with something like "Data Center Operations Manager, Finance/Banking Industry, Experienced with SysTrust, OTC Support, and Cyber Security."
Comb your hair.
Photos matter on LinkedIn, according to CareerRealism.com. Upload a photo that conveys your professional demeanor. Your profile picture, as well as the content that follows, needs to represent the type of person the employer is looking to hire. Fair or not, your photo communicates a lot about you. Ask a friend with a visual touch to snap one. Look straight into the lens, adjust the lighting so it's not direct, and make sure others aren't in the margins and the background isn't too busy. Above all, make sure the pixel quality is good enough to withstand enlargement. It is 11 times more likely your profile will be viewed if it includes a photo.
Network via groups.
Lots of groups maintain a presence on LinkedIn, notes Career Training USA. Alumni networks, employee groups, professional associations, employer circles -- all of these can be found among the 2 million groups on LinkedIn (yes, 2 million!). Think about the kinds of groups associated with the industry you're in or the kinds of people you want to work with. You will gain credibility in the eyes of prospective employers by following groups that are relevant to your projected career path. Once you've located the right groups, you'll probably need to be authenticated, but when you're through the door, you'll be able to get a handle on what folks in those circles talk about and think about. Track the conversation for a while, and when you're ready, start a dialog with someone you think can offer some assistance.
Reach out to employees at your target companies.
And more specifically, sift through profiles to find people in the departments that align with your job ambitions. (Although these can be pricey, the best way to do such searches is to get a premium account.) See if you have any friends or former colleagues in common. Look for fellow alumni from your alma mater or any other affiliation that will compel the recipient to connect with you. You may find improved response rate when beginning the virtual conversation by asking a specific, career-related question your contact can quickly answer. After establishing a rapport, reach out and politely ask for in-person interviews -- or short of that, a phone conversation. "Contact at least 5 people a week -- you can expect response rates of 20 to 40% with a well-written message," claims CareerEnlightenment.com.
Tell a consistent story.
In a survey by Jobvite, 94% of recruiters used LinkedIn to vet or source candidates. Employers are looking for verification that your public brand on LinkedIn aligns with who you claim to be in your application. If it looks like your profile is out of date or has been neglected, it leaves a poor impression -- similar to a partially completed resume or job application. On the flip side, a professional LinkedIn profile that is a continuation of your resume and cover letter could be all the convincing a recruiter needs.
Ray Rogers is the director of Career and Professional Development at St. Edward's University in Austin, Texas.