LinkedIn claims it has 20 million available jobs. Yet, many people spend hours scrolling through posts and making “connections” that never advance their careers. However, it just takes the right approach to get the most out of LinkedIn.
If you use the site like any other social media platform, you might not get results. If you use it with a strategy, though, it can be a helpful tool. We’ve put together our favorite tips to make your time on LinkedIn worthwhile.
Make It Personal
First, it can be helpful to change your perspective toward LinkedIn. If you think it’s only a tool for people who are actively looking for a job, think again.
LinkedIn isn’t just useful when you need a job. It also offers a quick way for anyone in your industry to learn more about you. This can bring you opportunities even when you’re not actively seeking them.
Rather than just highlighting a specific job search, you also want your profile to reflect your personality, talents, and work goals. It should show who you are, as well as what you do.
For example, a summary section that shows creativity and passion is better than one that just lists your accomplishments. Write your profile with a friendly tone, and edit out anything that sounds stiffly formal. (Hint: don’t write about yourself in the third person.)
Include a Cover Photo
Everyone knows your LinkedIn should include a profile picture. If you’ve ignored this, you’re missing out. It’s one of the first things people should see when they look at your profile.
Without a cover image, your profile looks incomplete. A great cover photo draws people in and conveys your personal brand.
You have lots of options for cover photos—just make sure it’s high-quality, professional, and reflects you well. And, of course, never use an image you don’t own the rights to. If you don’t want to use a picture of yourself, a shot of the skyline of the city you’re based in, or the service or product you offer will work.
Use a design tool, like Canva, to create a professional cover image that includes your business info or contact details. While that information should also be elsewhere on your profile, this puts the essentials front and center.
Make Your Profile Photo More Fun
Professional headshots make great LinkedIn profile photos. However, a generic one can make you seem bland and uninteresting. Try to use one with a bit of personality.
Instead of just posing in front of the camera, try an image that shows you actually at work. For example, a photographer could use a profile photo that shows her taking a picture.
You can also liven up an image with your clothing—it should be professional but have some personality. The background you choose can also have an effect. A headshot taken in front of a gray wall has a very different energy than one taken in front of a flowering tree.
Connect with Intention
There’s nothing wrong with having a long list of connections on LinkedIn. However, you’ll get more out of your network if you add people with intention.
In addition to friends, family, and former coworkers, seek out people who work in your dream job, or at your dream companies. Send them personal, nongeneric messages. Ask if they’d be willing to share how they got their job in an email or phone call.
Most people are flattered when someone admires their career and will be happy to share some secrets with you. If you want, though, you can sweeten the deal by offering a small gift card in exchange.
Of course, you don’t want to be that creepy person who sends flirtatious messages on LinkedIn. However, a bit of professional stalking can be helpful.
When you find people with jobs you admire, check out their profile—even if you aren’t ready to connect with them directly. Take note of the information they share and how they phrase things, and then use it as inspiration to update your profile.
If they have other social media sites listed, check those out, too! They’ll give you even more ideas about how to market yourself better online.
Stay Active with Links
If you’re active on LinkedIn, it can take your connections even further. You’ll remain prominent in their feeds, so they’ll be more likely to think of you when new opportunities come up.
However, you probably don’t want to devote lots of time to posting status updates on LinkedIn—post relevant links instead.
You don’t even have to write original posts, although that can be useful, too. Instead, just share links to great content that’s relevant to your industry. It only takes a few seconds, but if you post things that help other people, they’ll start thinking of you as an expert.
Customize Your URL
This is a super-quick way to improve your profile. Instead of using the random string of numbers automatically assigned for your URL, visit the “Edit Profile” section. Change your URL to your name, the name of your business, or something similarly professional and memorable.
Online recommendations don’t just help people choose new products to buy—they also help employers choose new people to hire.
If you get praised for a project or know that your boss likes your work, ask her to write a LinkedIn recommendation for you. You can even mention specific things you’d like her to highlight.
Someone who’s happy with you as an employee won’t mind taking a few minutes to recommend you, and this can help you get new opportunities.
Keep It Simple
It’s great to fill out your profile completely, but if you pack your LinkedIn with too many old jobs, skills, endorsements, recommendations, and so on, it can get overwhelming for both you and the person reading it.
Try to keep your profile sleek and streamlined. Make the essentials and impressive stuff the most prominent, and edit out redundant or irrelevant information.
Of course, you should also keep up with the basics of LinkedIn, like updating it with your current job and adding new networking connections.
However, these creative ideas will help you get much more out of the platform, and they might even open some doors that lead to your dream job.
If you’re on a job search, you also need a stellar resume—we can help with that, too!