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Make LinkedIn Work For You

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By now, most everyone has gotten the memo. With few exceptions, in today’s job market, no job seeker should be without a LinkedIn account.

Your profile serves as your digital calling card; knowing how to make it work for you can make you stand out among an increasingly crowded job-market. Read on to discover 10 tips that will help you perfect your profile and start reaping the professional benefits.

1. Be thorough

"It's very important to create a full profile", says Aerotek Training Specialist, Becky Wallraff. "This includes the summary, relevant information about your background, experience, and skills. Your profile should give recruiters a good sense of who you are, what you've done and what you want to do". Don't forget to include any quantifiable information such as numbers, data, and statistics that show off achievements and contributions to your current and former employers. P.S. Do it with crisp, concise language that's easy to read.

2. Key Words Are...Key

Be sure that you use appropriate key words on multiple occasions throughout your profile. "Recruiters use Boolean search tools, so when you use those key words it helps us find you", says Wallraff. The challenge? Figuring out what keywords to use.

According to Harry Urschel, founder of The Wise Job Search, LinkedIn users should "take the time to think about 'what are all the possible search terms someone might use to find someone like me?' Then make sure all those words are somewhere in your profile. If someone is looking for a 'Payroll Manager', and you were a 'Payroll Supervisor', they may not find you if you don't have the word 'Manager' in your profile".

3. Be a positive spin-doctor

If you are unemployed, or have big gaps between jobs, find ways of framing your situation positively, says blogger Bob McIntosh, creator of About Things Career Related. McIntosh discourages jobseekers from writing "Unemployed" in their profile heading. "Even, 'Looking for next great opportunity' doesn't say much about your talent and potential to help future employers", he adds. "This is prime real estate for branding yourself and including some keywords".

4. Tell the truth

While there's no reason to stress the fact that you were laid off from your last job, outright lying has no place in your LinkedIn profile. "Employers can smell a liar like a bloodhound can smell a man on the run. Don't write that you achieved 100 percent customer satisfaction because it sounds good. A 'near perfect' rating is more acceptable and easier to defend at an interview", says McIntosh.

5. Say 'cheese' and wear a suit

Include a professional looking photo in your profile. According to Scott Dockweiler, writing for The Muse.com, "Adding a profile picture makes your profile seven times more likely to be viewed by others". Maybe it's even worth wearing a tie.

6. Build Your Network

Though LinkedIn isn't a popularity contest in the way some other social media sites seem to be, having a lot of connections pays off in several respects. The first reason is simple. The more people you know in your industry, the more likely you are to hear about job opportunities. Moreover, "having a large number of connections shows others in your field that you are passionate and deeply immersed in your career", explains Wallraff. "A strong network also shows potential recruiters how well you market yourself, and that you are well connected to others in your industry", she adds.

7. Ratchet up the endorsements

LinkedIn's endorsement function is important, says Wallraff. "It helps to reinforce the fact that you have the skills and experience you claim to have". Having positive reviews are even more helpful.

Wallraff points out that recruiters look for three types of reviews: "Reviews from managers show how well you performed, and whether you met expectations; reviews from peers offer insight into how you operated on a day-to-day basis and how well you worked with a team; and customer reviews describe how you showed up and were viewed in the marketplace".

8. Proof and double proof

"Keep in mind that your profile is a recruiter's first impression of you", says Wallraff. "They will view the quality of your profile as an indicator of the quality of work you will deliver if hired".

Proof your profile multiple times to make sure there aren't any spelling or grammatical errors. Consider having a friend or family member proof it, too. Sometimes, a fresh set of eyes will catch something you've missed.

9. Skip the hard sell

“Don't be too 'salesy'", says Wallraff. "This can be a turn-off for recruiters. For example, don't write something such as, 'Best HR person around'. Your skills and background should speak for themselves".

10. Move and shake

Again, don't just set up your profile and wait for the job offers to role in. To make LinkedIn work for you, you'll need to stay active. A great way of doing this is by joining and engaging in LinkedIn professional affinity groups. Once users have joined the appropriate groups, they can benefit greatly from engaging in the conversations there.

The bottom line: The more you use LinkedIn, the more you'll get out of it.