LinkedIn is a powerful tool, not just for job hunting but for building up your personal brand, reputation and network. The platform hosts 590 million users, 154 million of which are from the US. (1) Users can range from senior-level influencers and executives to students and entry-level positions all across the world. It is a credible source for job hunting, connecting with your network, as well as understanding what’s going on in your specific industry and any key trends or newsworthy items to be aware of.

It’s safe to say if you aren’t already on LinkedIn, you are setting yourself up for a disadvantage. To take that one step further, if you aren’t strategically using the platform, you could be missing a huge opportunity to tap into a free resource that can influence your personal and professional brand.

How can you ensure your profile is strategically set up for success? We’ve outlined some initial steps you can do to put yourself in the best position:

Set It Up for Success
Your LinkedIn profile can be considered your online business card. It should be clean, accurate and professional. Here are some areas of your profile to double-check are up to par:

  • Profile Picture: this picture can oftentimes be someone’s first impression of you; furthermore having a picture makes your profile 14 times more likely to be viewed by others. (2) Here are some tips to ensure you make the best selection: a.) the picture should be of you – not an animal, group of friends or abstract photo; b.) the photo should be recent-ish. Of course you probably don’t take a new professional headshot every year, but within the last 5 years should suffice (as long as you didn’t go through a major makeover since then); c.) be professional – from your clothes, to the background of the photo, to your smile or facial expression, this is a professional headshot and likely different than the photo you use on other social media sites. A good rule of thumb is to replicate this image to how you would show up to work.
  • Headline: the headline is one of the most visible and valuable sections of your entire profile, in addition to being indexed (meaning keywords in your headline can be findable when searched). By default, LinkedIn pulls in your job title, but you have the ability to update this 120-character real estate with a creative showcase of your skills and capabilities. For a sample framework and headline examples, reference the Hubspot article here. (3)
  • Summary: the next section is your summary. You have 2,000 characters available (or about 300-350 words) to highlight your skills, expertise, experience and personality. This is essentially a roll-up of the remaining sections of your profile: experience, education, skills and endorsements. Reference this article here for a deeper look to crafting your summary. (4)
  • Experience & Education: complete these sections with details on your past work experience and education.
  • Skills & Endorsements: don’t skimp on highlighting all relevant skills and capabilities. Furthermore, the recommendations section is a great reflection of your past work. It is completely appropriate to ask for a recommendation. Follow this guide here for the steps to do so. (5)
    Insider Tip: are you job hunting and would like a quick gut check of your LinkedIn profile? Use Jobscan’s LinkedIn Optimizer Tool. This allows you to upload a PDF of your profile and job descriptions of the types of jobs you’re seeking to get a quick score on how your profile matches up.

Use LinkedIn To Your Advantage

  • Connections: this is the place to connect with your professional network. As you build up your 1st connections across the platform, you will also expand your 2nd and 3rd-degree connections, which naturally expands your network exponentially. Although there is a set checklist for whom you should connect with, here is a starting point to get you started: professionals you already know, professionals you are familiar with or who are high influencers in your industry, people from your background (think: family, friends, past classmates, teammates, etc).
  • Groups: groups on LinkedIn provide a place for like-minded members in the same industry, with the same interests, to connect and share experiences. You can find groups by selecting Groups from the drop-down menu in the upper right corner of your LinkedIn profile.
  • Engage: use the platform to interact and engage with your connections. Similar to other social media sites, you can Like, Comment and Share directly from the news feed.

Insider Tip: By simply setting aside 10 minutes a day to log in to LinkedIn and interact with posts and your connections, it will not only keep you top of mind with your peers but will also position you as a knowledgeable and engaged individual in your field.

Do you own a business?
If so, remember LinkedIn has a company page feature to build out and showcase your business. Similar to an individual using LinkedIn, this is your digital business card to feature your brand (plus, it will often appear in search results when someone researches your company). In addition to creating your company profile on the platform, you can also stay engaged with your audience by posting thought-leadership content, posting job openings, prospecting, advertising, etc., directly through the platform.

LinkedIn is a powerful engine for your personal and professional brand and reputation. With unlimited potential, there are many resources to leverage on the platform, but often the first step is to just get started.

The world is moving quickly which is why it’s important to ensure you’re taking the right steps to position yourself up for success – for both now and into the future.

Check out ISU Credit Unions career page for potential job opportunities.