I’m on LinkedIn: Now what?

Fact: Anyone doing a job search that isn’t using LinkedIn misses out on opportunities to connect with professionals, develop knowledge about their industry and learn about potential job openings.

But after creating your LinkedIn account, you may likely ask yourself “Now what?”

Just like any job searching tool, LinkedIn success is based on the effort you put into it. Having a LinkedIn account isn’t the same as using it, and the first step is completing a top-notch profile. Use the following checklist to ensure you have a LinkedIn profile that surfaces when other members search for possible connections.

1. Upload a professional headshot.  Selfies aren’t professional! Ask someone to take a picture specifically for LinkedIn and other professional sites that use photos. Avoid using a picture taken on vacation where you crop your friends but still keep the beach background. This screams unprofessional. Dress for a job interview and choose a neutral backdrop.

 2. Create a snazzy headline.  The headline appears underneath your name. It’s the tagline that others see when researching LinkedIn, so make the most of it. Don’t hesitate to utilize adjectives when describing yourself. Are you a CPCC student or are you an ambitious CPCC student in the Dental Hygiene program? Keep the headline short, listing job titles or skills.

3. Specify industry but keep your location broad. The location and industry section lets you choose a city and state by postal code. Your zip code matches you to two cities. Choose the largest one to ensure a larger network of connections. You select an industry from a drop-down menu so choose the one most connected to your professional interests.

4. Make the most of the Summary section. Think of this section as a resume summary statement or written elevator speech. What do you want professionals to know about you? Use your industry’s key words when listing skills and qualifications. Add some professional personality that encourages the reader to view your background.

5. Develop an action-oriented Experience section. List current and past employment in the Experience section. Like your resume, make each entry concise and use an active voice to describe your job duties. Grab your action verb list and get to work.

 6. Add Skills and seek  Endorsements. In the Skills & Expertise section you list particular skills that colleagues can endorse. Endorsements add credibility to your profile. Type a skill in the “Add” box. As you connect with colleagues they can endorse you for listed skills they know firsthand you possess. You can send a note to others requesting endorsements. Often if you endorse your colleagues, they’ll return the favor.

7. Make the most of the Education section. Don’t rule out the importance of school-related achievements. Use this section to highlight awards and activities such as internships, research or involvement in clubs and organizations.

8. Be cautious with Additional Info. The Additional Information section lets you list interests and personal details. Use resume rules when completing this section. Keep interests professional and leave personal details (marital status, birth date) blank.

9. Don’t hesitate to ask for Recommendations. Like endorsements, recommendations add credibility to your profile. Seek out recommendations from LinkedIn contacts you know professionally (coworkers, former supervisors, professors, etc.).

10. Start joining Groups and Following industry activity. Seek out groups in your industry and start following companies. Doing so shows LinkedIn members that you’re serious about your professional development or job search.

 Take advantage of resources to help you become familiar with LinkedIn, including CPCC Career Services’ own tutorial as well as LinkedIn Webinars. Don’t just have a LinkedIn account. Use it!