I’m looking for a new Java consulting position. What’s the best way to use LinkedIn for such a search? — Andrew, Manhattan
With over 160 million members globally, LinkedIn is clearly one of the most valuable professional networking tools in a job seeker’s arsenal. As an IT staffing and consulting firm based in New York City, it’s become one of our best sources for top IT talent from all across North America. There are two things you need to address within LinkedIn in order to get the most out of it.
First, you’ll need to learn how to build your profile to attract the right attention, which we’ll cover today. Second, you’ll need to look at how to use LinkedIn to actively search for IT opportunities.
Your LinkedIn profile is a reflection of you, your background and experiences. It is not your resume. The more complete your profile, the easier it will be for recruiters to see you’re a good match for their openings, and the less time you’ll waste answering calls about the wrong jobs. So what are the essentials of a really good, attention-worthy LinkedIn profile? Let’s start with:
A Friendly, Professional Photo
Making a good first impression starts with a good photo. It’s the first thing people notice on your profile and it’s what makes you relatable as a real, live person. But remember, LinkedIn is aprofessional networking site, not Facebook. Here are some tips for choosing the right photo:
- It has to be a real and current photo of you and only you – no pets, children, spouses or props. Never use a cartoon or logo.
- Crop it to a head and shoulders view, but don’t zoom in too much.
- Don’t overthink your pose – a natural smile is all you need to look approachable.
- Wear clothing that fits in with the work environment you’re looking for.
A Killer Headline
Depending on your profile settings, the first information a recruiter typically sees on a page of LinkedIn search results is your photo, name, location and “headline.” Your headline should sum up your professional identity in 120 characters or less. It should convey your technical and business expertise. Which of these candidates looks most viable?
- “Mike Jones, Developer”
- “John Smith, C++ Developer | High Frequency Foreign Exchange Trading Systems”
Obviously John Smith, because right away I get a feel for the industry he specializes in and his technical skills. If I’m trying to fill a C++ role at a major electronic brokerage firm, first impression says he’s probably a better a fit than the guy who describes himself as simply a “Developer.”
Andrew, you mentioned you’re a Java Consultant, so if you’re not open to full-time roles, get that across to recruiters immediately by using the word “Consultant” in your headline, and you shouldn’t be flooded by calls about full-time jobs.
A Detailed “Summary”
Use this space to give an overview of who you are and where you see your career going. Get your SEO on, and load it up with the technologies and applications you work with and want to be found for. Check out How to Write a Stand-Out IT Resume Summary for some helpful tips. While you can’t use HTML formatting to create bulleted lists, it’s perfectly fine to use dashes or asterisks to achieve the same effect.
A Thorough “Skills” Section
Description of Current and Past Roles
In the “Experience” section, you don’t need to include every minute detail of each job you’ve had, but a compelling description of major responsibilities and technologies used is essential to getting found for appropriate opportunities.
A Clear Contact Method
If you want to be contacted, you’ve got to make it easy! Don’t rely on people to contact you through InMail, because as a developer you probably don’t look at your LinkedIn inbox every day. Include a real email address, phone number, Twitter handle, etc., and the best times to reach you. The easier you are to reach, the more opportunities you’ll hear about, and if you have followed the suggestions above, you should only be hearing about opportunities you want to hear about.
Click here for Part Two: How to Actively Use LinkedIn to Search for IT Jobs.