Being on LinkedIn will not make or break your career, however, properly utilizing this career-based social media platform will help adjust your career trajectory and give you exposure to recruiters and individuals that may not normally see you and open doors for different opportunities you might never have thought of pursuing. Additionally, if you’ve found yourself in the midst of a transition point in your career, having no online presence (or simply just the wrong kind of online presence) can affect your chances of getting an interview. In a Careerbuilder study, 41% of employers say that they might not interview a candidate if they can’t find them online.
Before you begin building your network on LinkedIn, spend some time creating a complete and robust profile. Completing each section with important and up to date information- all of the way from your About Me section, to your resume, volunteer, and achievements sections should be filled with any relevant information that not only shows who you are, but shows that you’ve put in the effort. Be sure to include keywords in your headline, summary, and experience that will populate your profile when users are searching for things like “content developer” or “process improvement”. Lastly, up your selfie game by taking a more professional headshot style photo, or even getting one professionally done to help you stand out more.
Whether your goal with increasing your network and building relationships is to find a new job with a new organization, or stay within your current organization, using LinkedIn to connect with your current and past coworkers outside of the office will deepen professional relationships and increase your network and exposure at the office. Use LinkedIn to engage with colleagues when you otherwise might not get to interact with them by posting interactive and interesting content and interacting on their posts as well. A general rule of thumb for mixing social media (of any kind) and work is to only add/connect with those whom you already have a semi-established relationship with. Essentially, if they can never seem to remember your name, or you theirs, when you see each other in the elevator, best to hold off on sending that connection request.
LinkedIn also can open doors for possible mentorship in the future, by showing you’re engaged in the professional environment and building relationships even after the time clock runs out, you may find yourself on the receiving end of a “Let’s chat over coffee” message from your future mentor at your office.
While building up existing relationships with colleagues, be sure to also use LinkedIn for widening your network as well. Follow and connect with important industry leaders and organizations you like and engage on their posts as if you knew them personally. By doing so, others with shared interests will see your interactions and oftentimes will want to connect and follow you as well. On top of engaging with industry leaders and companies you admire, follow companies you would like to work for in your area so that you can keep your eyes open to potential opportunities that may be posted on their page and put yourself at the forefront of their recruiters’ minds.
If you are someone who is open to the idea of transitioning careers, or is actively looking for a new position, you also must be sure that you have your settings updated to show your profile to recruiters in your desired industry and area, otherwise, all of your effort engaging with others on the platform might be for not if recruiters believe you’re not even open to receiving a message from them. If a job change is your goal, keep your profile up to date with a detailed About Me section that draws potential recruiters in. Using your resume (that you should’ve uploaded to your profile when you created it) for inspiration on your About Me is the best way to create a profile that flows well and emphasizes your strong points and experience, two key areas recruiters will focus on when browsing through profiles.
You don’t have to dedicate hours every week to keeping up on LinkedIn in order to utilize it for career growth, but trading in some time mindlessly scrolling Instagram or Facebook for equal amounts of time engaging on LinkedIn will benefit your career more than double-tapping on another funny post, tagging your friends, and commenting “it’s me”.