I attended an event held by the Berkeley Haas Alumni Society a few weekends ago. It was a career event tailored for veterans in the Silicon Valley area. There were several workshops: Resume refinement, tips for your job search, mock interviews, and even a career fair. My favorite parts of the event were the presentations (by Mauri Schwartz &Tim Johnston) given on the importance of LinkedIn for Veterans.
During these presentations I realized something...
Most of our profiles SUCK.
Just like everything else in life, if we suck at something, there is always a way that we can improve. LinkedIn is no different and I'm going to try and lead you in the right direction. Did you know that 94% of recruiters use social media to find candidates for positions these days? This fact alone should make you want to think seriously about creating or updating your profile so that you're putting your best foot forward.
Whether you're still serving in the military, on your way out, or served in the past - there's going to be something here for you. There's probably something here for you even if you've never been in the military. Keep reading and decide for yourself!
1. Decide what you want
Whatever the reason is, keep that in the back of your mind because it will help you in the long run.
2. Upload a professional profile picture
First impressions are lasting impressions...even if they're digital.
DO: Have a neat appearance, use good lighting, have a mostly-empty or solid background.
DON'T: Use that selfie from a week ago or any of those pictures from the squadron Christmas party.
3. Edit your Headline & Profile URL
Also, while we're on the topic of being creative. Create a custom URL for your profile. This will make it infinitely easier to share your profile and allow other people to look you up. Initially, your profile's URL will look something like linkedin.com/pub/jamisonvann5435473899028. But you can change it to something that is easier to search like Linkedin.com/in/JamisonVann.
DO: Be specific & creative
DON'T: Let it auto-populate
4. Write An Engaging Summary
DO: Read the article
DON'T: Be boring
5. Translate your skills
Turn things like "Section chief for squadron Supply & Equipment office. Completed RA duties and completed 15 EPRs" into "Supervisor of 20 employees in office resources department. Responsible for procurement of required equipment, budget management, and resource forecasting. Completed personnel evaluations for 15 employees and provided career and leadership development opportunities".
DO: Translate your skills to their civilian equivalents
DON'T: Say things like "EPR" or "I don't like working with civilians"
6. Everything Else
There are various strategies for increasing your LinkedIn ranking, but the first thing you should do is become an All-Star. I know you're already special in your own right, I'm talking about creating an All-Star profile by completing each section in its entirety. Not only will you rank higher, but you'll give visitors a more complete look at who you are. I would imagine that this could be impressive to a potential employer because it shows that you care about your digital image and have taken the proper steps to complete your profile.
DO: Completely fill out your profile
DON'T: Create a "Ghost Profile" that is only 1/2 completed.
Also, you can take advantage of the LinkedIn for Veterans program. LinkedIn provides the premium "Job Seeker" profile + access to Lynda.com free of charge for one year! Take advantage of this, depending on where you are in your job search. If you're still pretty far out from transitioning out of the military, I would save this benefit until you are actually closer to needing it.
(Too long; Didn't read)
LinkedIn can be a useful resource for veterans to use when they are transitioning out of the military and into the civilian workforce. But just like any tool, it is only effective if it is used correctly and for its intended purpose.
- Decide what you want
- Upload a professional photo
- Edit your headline & profile URL
- Write an engaging summary
- Translate your skills
- Become an All-Star
Use LinkedIn to your advantage and show that you're not "just another veteran".
I hate that saying, by the way...
In all seriousness, good luck on your search and be sure to let me know if this guide was helpful or not. Also, feel free to comment with any tips you would add to this list. I'd love to hear your ideas!