portfolioOnce upon a time, conducting a job search was relatively straightforward: You’d ask friends and acquaintances if they knew of any openings, peruse the Classified Ads section of the local newspaper, and send resumes along with a nice cover letter.  It was even permissible, if not advisable, to follow up with a telephone call.  No longer.

The Internet has completely (and likely irreversibly) altered the job search landscape.  Today, effective use of social networking sites (SNS) is almost as important as a good resume. While the traditional resume is still essential and probably always will be, most recruiters will tell you that the very first place they go to search for and gather information on job candidates is LinkedIn, followed by a Google search on the candidate’s name. Some employers will hold it against you if you attempt to contact them by phone.  Instead, many employers prefer you follow up by email or on LinkedIn.

As most professionals know, a successful job search strategy requires a strong online presence that includes utilizing social media to its fullest effect.  LinkedIn is widely considered to be the social networking site best suited not only to those looking for a job but also to any professional interested in furthering their career and bolstering their online personal brand.  Most of those who utilize LinkedIn don’t maximize their account, however.

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“Wait, what”, you say?  “What do you mean?  My profile is 100% completed”!  As it should be.  But LinkedIn offers additional features that allow you to craft a multifaceted, multimedia online presence which will help distinguish your personal brand in a completely nontraditional way.

Simply put, LinkedIn possesses features that enable you to house and present videos, audio, multimedia presentations, PowerPoint slideshows, documentation to support your qualifications, links to external sites, etc. You can use some or all of these features to promote your competencies and personality to recruiters and employers in a much more interactive, engaging and, ultimately, memorable manner than you can by relying solely on a standard resume and cover letter.  In fact, unless your resume has been professionally written and keyword optimized, with the proliferation of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), depending on your resume to get you past the initial screening most companies conduct probably won’t get you a job interview, much less a job.

Let’s look at how each of the various media can enhance your personal brand on LinkedIn:

  • Videos.  Despite the tendency of many to over think or overcomplicate use of this medium, incorporating a video presentation as part of your LinkedIn profile is a highly effective way to engage prospective employers who visit your account.  Producing a video of yourself making a brief presentation that demonstrates your expertise, for example, permits you to do several things a resume can’t hope to replicate:
    • Introduces you as a person, not a document.
    • Allows you to make a first impression in a “scripted” manner, free from worry about making a faux pas or having sweaty palms(!).
    • Engages the viewer
    • Conveys the impression that you are not afraid of technology, nor of putting yourself out there, so to speak.
  • Audio.  Although perhaps not as impressive or engaging as a video presentation, a well thought out audio recording on a subject about which you have knowledge and expertise can demonstrate competence much more effectively than simply listing it on your resume. Or maybe you have been interviewed as an expert in your field for a podcast or radio show. If so, include the audio.
  • PowerPoint slideshows (via slideshare.net).  Few presentations cut to the chase as well as a PowerPoint slideshow.  Use it to illustrate your abilities or even to present a potential solution for a problem frequently encountered in the industry.
  • Documents/Samples of work product.  If you own the copyright to things you’ve written or projects you can share in document form, why not make them available via LinkedIn?  Doing so increases your chances of showing that you are ideal for the position.
  • Multimedia presentations.  Finally, with a little creativity and a bit of patience, you can produce a multimedia presentation that includes each of the options we’ve already discussed.  Not only can this be an effective way to present your suitability for a job or industry, it provides you the opportunity to establish yourself as an innovative and creative professional, unafraid to avail yourself of all the tools at your disposal.
  • Links to external sites.  Have you been published?  Provide the link(s).  Involved with an organization or cause that is likely to be viewed favorably as a reflection on your character and/or abilities? Link to the site.  Blog regularly regarding matters related to the industry in which you are or want to be employed?  Link to it.

Employing the use of these features may seem intimidating to some, especially those who haven’t engaged in producing multimedia fare and wouldn’t begin to know which platforms to use.  Fortunately, LinkedIn provides details regarding compatible image providers, video providers, audio providers, and presentation and document formats.  Combined with your desire and ingenuity, LinkedIn is potentially the best tool available for building your online presence and personal brand.