Mo Stych is a Traverse City native currently living in Chicago. When she's not dreaming about summer days on Lake Michigan, Mo stays busy writing, creating, exploring the world with her husband, and talking to her plants. You can follow her infinite adventures on her blog or Facebook page.
Make LinkedIn Work for You: Awesome Job Alert Northern Michigan Blog

Make LinkedIn Work for You

A lot of people still think of LinkedIn as Facebook’s awkward second-cousin that tries too hard to hang with the cool kids. It’s not seen as a “fun” social media platform, or relevant to anyone other than seasoned professionals and kids straight out of college desperate for work. Believe me when I say that LinkedIn is absolutely a tool you want in your arsenal, though. Staying active on LinkedIn can help you make connections that benefit you in the long run. If you’re happy at your current job you can still reap the benefits of connecting with others your industry, and if you decide to make a career move later on in life you’ve got an engaged presence established.

Need some help bolstering your LinkedIn account? Here are some tips.

Stay Current

Make sure the information on your profile page is up-to-date. If you recently updated your resumé, it’s even easier to update your LinkedIn job descriptions. Keeping your job descriptions accurate and up-to-date helps recruiters target the right potential employees for job openings. Don’t forget to include volunteer opportunities, projects, certifications, and other supplementary details. These showcase the breadth of your interests and talents.

Connect, Even If It’s Weird

I know: it feels awkward to reach out to someone you barely know, or maybe someone you haven’t spoken to in over a decade. If you were on good terms the last time you spoke, don’t hesitate to “endorse” or strike up a conversation with someone. Keep your interactions genuine and show appreciation for someone’s willingness to help you.

You’ll be amazed by how wide your net can be cast if you’re courteous and active in others’ lives. I once received a job because I was connected with the mom of a guy I dated in high school. My current job came from reaching out to one of my husband’s college baseball teammates that I hadn’t seen in nearly five years. Suffice to say, I have no hesitation about reaching out to people I don’t know that well.

Ask for Introductions

Most people recognize LinkedIn as a platform that allows someone to get their foot in the door. It’s universally accepted that people use LinkedIn to make connections with people they wouldn’t have access to otherwise. If you see that one of your connections can help you bridge a gap between you and someone you want to meet, ask them to make an introduction.

This single technique boosted my first-round interviews more than anything else. I leveraged my relationships in Traverse City to meet people working for companies I applied for in Chicago. A personal recommendation can go farther than a well-written cover letter and polished portfolio.

Get a Professional (but Personable) Profile Photo

It can be cutesy to have a fun or odd profile pic on Facebook, but LinkedIn definitely isn’t the place for that. Everyone can spot a bad photo, so put a little effort into showing the world you take your professional career seriously.

Luckily, societal standards of what’s accessible for a professional headshot has changed. Gone are the days of gradient yearbook photo backgrounds! That said, you should stay away from cropped-out-all-my-friends photos, “casual” photos, blurry photos, blatant selfies, and anything with a red Solo cup. Trust me, I understand if you don’t have any photos that don’t fit this criteria. I’m hardly photogenic myself. It’s an easy fix: ind a place with nice natural lighting and a neutral background, and ask a friend to take some photos of you in your favorite shirt.

Follow Companies and Influencers

It’s easy to find organizations, movers, and shakers in your industry. A lot of times, LinkedIn will pick up on what you should follow based on your profile information or people in your network. Adding companies and top-notch people who are active on LinkedIn can help you stay up to date with what’s happening in your industry. Updates from these sources will appear in your news feed, and will be custom-tailed to topics that you may want to learn more about.

I highly advise following companies you may want to work for someday, too. This shows you’re interested in the company, and you can showcase your knowledge about recent company changes in your interview or cover letter.

Interact!

You may not believe it, but LinkedIn can be as interesting as Twitter and Facebook if you invest in it. Endorse people from your network, comment on articles or news stories, and follow some brilliant folks. Heck, you can even write a post or two if you dare! If you take the time to invest a little in your connections and support them on LinkedIn, you’ll be shocked at the response you receive.

Do you use LinkedIn? Why or why not? Share in the comments!

2 thoughts on “Make LinkedIn Work for You

  1. CaseyJPS on Reply

    Hi! Thanks for the great brush-up. I truly have never used Linked-In to it’s maximum potential, as you have illustrated. And that’s especially crazy relative to the number of people I have made professional connections and introductions for, to help them. That said, I have managed to update my profile periodically (it’s amazing how many things I’ve done over the years which I simply forgot or brushed-off as not relevant, according to my mis-guided judgement of myself). My profile has become my comprehensive “go to” FAQ about myself and it’s really helpful.

    At what point do you decide to NOT put a particular job experience in your LI profile? I have actually omitted a few because they don’t follow my core career or area of expertise. TY!

    1. Mo Stych on Reply

      Hi, Casey! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your insights.

      I know what you mean. I’ve worked some odd, “filler” jobs between what I’d consider jobs geared towards the skills and talents I want to promote. It can be a tough balance between showcasing your entire job repertoire and focusing on the skills you want to bring to the forefront.

      My personal solution is to include as many jobs/projects as possible in my LI profile, and gear the descriptions so they align with the career path I’m chasing. For instance, maybe I had a customer service role in the past but I want to do something in data analytics now. For the top one or two job descriptions in the customer service job description, I would focus on tasks that include working with numbers, data, reporting, or analytics. For most career changes, I think there is overlap with the things you did previously and what you want to do now. It may be those previous experiences that helped guide this new direction you’re taking!

      However, if your past achievements and present objectives differ too much, then I feel it’s safe to leave it off. Make sure you have an answer ready in case someone asks about a gap in your employment log, even if it’s as similar as explaining that you worked somewhere but it wasn’t a good fit for the direction you wanted to move.

      It sounds like you do this on your LinkedIn profile already, but maybe this little bit of extra advice helps. Thanks again for stopping by!

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