10 Things to Know when Using LinkedIn

Linkedin is a professional social networking site I recommend to clients looking for a job,  as well as Vocational Rehabilitation employees interested in presenting a professional online image.  Unlike other social media sites, LinkedIn is controlled by you.  You can’t be tagged in unflattering pictures or be referenced in inappropriate posts.  LinkedIn focuses on making a good impression while meeting and networking with other professionals in your industry.

The following tips can be applied to consumers and professionals to create a strong LinkedIn profile.

Headline and Status Update

Make sure your headline highlights your skills. For example: “Experienced Web Developer Seeking New Opportunities” sounds better than “unemployed.” If you are currently working, list key words in your headline that a connection might search for to find someone with your skills and abilities.

Carefully worded status updates are another opportunity to draw attention to your strengths. One great idea for a post is mentioning what you are currently reading. Reading trade journals and other publications relevant to your field is sure to make a strong first impression.

Use Keywords

By using the right keywords in your profile and in various posts, employers looking for people with your skill set will have the ability to find you in a search. Click here to learn more about key word optimization

Follow Your Target Companies

Follow employers you are interested in via their LinkedIn page and learn about the company’s history, stock portfolio and other recent events.  Researching a company should be part of your homework to prepare for an interview.

Find an Insider

If you find a job you are interested in, use LinkedIn to communicate with someone within the company. Use this connection to gather information about the job you are applying for. This insider knowledge can help you prepare answers to interview questions. Further, networking with a future coworker can often lead to a recommendation. Work hard to impress this possible gatekeeper and make every contact within a company count.

Use Recommendations

Use the recommendations feature in LinkedIn to request recommendations from people you’ve worked with in the past. Reading a few lines about how great it was to work with you can make a world of difference to potential employers

Write Well

Writing a well-crafted LinkedIn bio is about more than just punctuation and grammar. Choose your words carefully so the bio is concise and clear.  Make sure to use keywords that are relevant to your desired industry and job title. Just like when you wrote your resume, this is the time to wax eloquent.

To get a good sense of what to write, look at job postings and visit the websites of your target companies. The keywords in the job posting that relate to your background, experience, and education are the keywords you will want to weave into your summary.

Choose the Right Photo

Your choice of profile photo is vital to your success on LinkedIn. Nowadays, people sometimes include photos on their hard copy resumes. The right photo, paired with excellent writing skills, almost eliminates the need for an in-person interview. Some tips for picking the perfect photo include:

  • Be sure to smile in the picture and look approachable.
  • Do not use a selfie as a profile picture.
  • Dress for the job you want to have.
  • Be sure the photo is recent.
  • Look like your photo.

Ask Questions based on LinkedIn Research

When preparing for an interview, use LinkedIn to review profiles of employees who work at the company you are interested in. Read every comment on every post and learn as much as you can about various positions. This will prepare you to ask intelligent questions during the interview.


There are several opportunities on LinkedIn to participate in the Question and Answer section of the industry groups you join. Post useful comments on other people’s status updates or in industry-specific groups. Don’t use these groups to self-promote; the easiest way to be active is to find ways to help others. Being active in discussions will allow you to showcase your skills to potential employers.

Wait a Few Weeks

Actively participating in LinkedIn will show you are interested in networking with others in your field. Set up your profile and wait to make your move. Don’t get in a hurry to contact the manager until you’ve first thought things out and found your angle. Having a seasoned online presence will give managers and HR people more to learn about you.

Time to Get Started

If you focus on the 10 ways you can use LinkedIn, many of the tools needed for your job search will be in place.  You can do extensive research and ask questions before you are in a face-to-face interview. The hard work of networking to impress the right people will already be done. The easy part will be when you walk in, smile and give that hiring manager a firm handshake. What are you waiting for? Everyone else is already on Linkedin.


Photo credit: Adriano Gasparri via Visual hunt / CC BY-SA