linkedin-tuneupJob hunting.  If you’re sincerely looking for another job, you know how much work it is.  And if you don’t currently have a job, job hunting is itself a full-time job, one that requires time, diligence, and the effective use of all tools at your disposal.  Tools such as your personal and professional networks, resumes tailored to specific jobs and/or industries, and your social networking site (SNS) accounts such as LinkedIn.

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 You do use LinkedIn, right?  If not, do so immediately.  No form of social media is more important to your professional identity in general and search for employment in particular than LinkedIn.  However, many of us set up a LinkedIn account and consider the work done.  While it’s true that having a LinkedIn profile provides you with an online presence, its job hunting value is limited if you don’t manage your page.  

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If you don’t refresh your LinkedIn profile from time to time, you provide no reason for someone to come back after the first visit.  Even more importantly from a job hunting standpoint, a stagnant LinkedIn account may contain outdated or even (shudder) incorrect information, either of which can spell doom for your job search.

So what can you do to ensure that your LinkedIn persona is the most effective and compelling representation of you and your skill set?  Here are some suggestions on how to tune-up your account:

  1. Review your profile.  Really review it.  With as critical and dispassionate an eye as possible.  Look for typos (read it backwards), check for errors in grammar and syntax and, most importantly, fact-check your information. Are the dates correct?  Do the achievements you’ve listed for a job accurately reflect what you really did there, not what you think potential employers want to see.   Let’s call “puffery” what it actually is: Dishonesty.  Once someone has a reason to doubt you about one thing, they’ll question whether they can trust you about anything.
  2. Say cheese.  Does your photo represent an individual you would consider hiring?  Is it professional?  Hint:  Your Coachella selfie probably isn’t your best choice.  Also ensure that the picture is of high quality (well-lit, not pixelated or grainy).
  3. Your headline should give a head’s up.  One of your primary reasons for using LinkedIn is that it is a valuable job hunting tool.  Job hunting. So ensure that your headline includes keywords that relate to who you are professionally.  Make it descriptive as well.  A well-constructed LinkedIn headline section makes you more searchable not only on LinkedIn but on the Internet generally.
  4. Update the experience section.  New title and/or achievements at work?   Include them, but do so in a way that makes it easy for the reader to picture not only what you do but how it fits in with the operation of your employer or organization.  Share some info about your company to give your work (and value) context.
  5. Don’t over-summarize your summary.   There’s a big difference between brief and truncated.  Remember that this section is designed to tell your story.  Sure, you don’t want it to be too long, but brevity often renders the narrative lacking in information that engages the reader, a must if you want to make a positive, lasting impression.
  6. Is your LinkedIn linked up? Does your page include a call to learn more about you?  A very effective way of doing so is to include links to documents, articles or blog posts you’re written, groups you’re associated with, or projects on which you’ve worked.
  7. The more the merrier.  Join LinkedIn groups to increase your relevance (and grow your network).