Updated: Nov 16, 2021
Oh LinkedIn. I am obsessed and over my 8+ years in career services and career coaching I have learned the vast majority of folx are unsure how to leverage the social media platform to its fullest potential and land a gig. So I am gonna step into my Clarissa Darling shoes and explain some of the most important tips for LinkedIn!
Fill Out Your Profile
LinkedIn can hold all of your career and educational history. That amount of information can take time to add to your profile and that is okay. Ideally, start with the large pieces first and then go back and work on the details.
Areas to Focus On First
Profile picture that is not a selfie, graduation photo, or close up wedding photo. Picture should be from the mid-chest and up. Don't feel pressured to look "professional". Based on your industry and profession you can have fun in your photo!
Your headline, which is what folx see under your picture when they search for you. Try to think of three big pieces of you, your experiences, or your skillsets and highlight them. Example: Advocate | C++ | Proven Leader
Experience section with copy and pasted bullets from your resume. You'll want to go back and add more detailed keywords, but to get you started your resume bullets work. Add all experiences!
Education section that allows you to easily connect with other alumni from your alma mater. Leave out the high school information, but add all college/university degrees, graduations from boot camps, etc.
Skills section. Remember to review you resume and past job descriptions for reminders on skillsets you've acquired.
Don't Go For the Obvious
Think about it. You're new to LinkedIn and suddenly you have all this access to professionals from across the largest brands. The professional at your dream company is so close! Wait! STOP! Don't go for the people at big names right away. Start out by searching for people with a job title you want to pursue. Review their profiles, look at the timeline of their experiences, and where they got some of their first breaks into the industry. Learn from people from across different types and sizes of orgs. Your big names in the industry are great to have on the resume, but everyone will go there first for their "big break". Instead, start with a professional from an org that is smaller and isn't getting DM'd 30+ times a day by students, job seekers, and spam.
PRO TIP: Smaller orgs will more than likely allow for more flexibility in your area of the business and may allow you to try other things and help in other projects outside of your "professional area of expertise". This allows you a greater breathe of experiences to grow quicker in your career!
Desktop vs. Mobile
While LinkedIn works the same on desktop and mobile, there are a few key distinctions that need to be highlighted. The mobile app's interface is great for just going through and connecting with a lot of folx, which is not recommended. The better approach is to direct message professionals and peers you want to network with. On the mobile app you can easily utilize the voice memo option! Every time I use the tool to follow up with a recent connection, it is a great start to a networking moment!
Desktop also makes it easier to avoid sending the dreaded connection request with no personalized note as to why you want to connect.
Authenticity is Key
LinkedIn should bring who you are as a professional to life and more importantly it should show off who you are as a person. Diverse folx, are being sought after, but sometimes only if they fit a certain ideal or image of "professionalism". It's also not lost on me as a white cis-gender-queer and the added dash of being gay I am usually quiet privileged to be authentic in spaces without much thought to it. A recent conversation centered around my permission to be authentic, but many of the black women in my same role in other companies have to be way more conservative in their approach and can never break the fourth wall of professionalism. Time to kick that notion out the door and for us to create a world where you can show off your full authentic self at work. That can start with your LinkedIn. Claim that space for defining what professionalism looks like to you and you best believe we are here to support that redefining!
Groups Are Worth It
Groups on LinkedIn could be really great, but it's horribly marketed and underutilized for any real community engagement. This is at least true for the vast majority on groups I have seen on LinkedIn. People still join them though, so you should too! Join groups that are related to your interests, profession, locations, identity intersections, etc. There is a reason why you should still join groups. LinkedIn allows you to directly message anyone who you have a shared group with. This includes the ability to message if you are not connected. The person does have to allow this in their settings. Read more here.
You can send a message request to a group member without being connected if their settings allow for direct communication from other group members.
To message a group member:
Navigate to the list of group members by clicking on See all to the right of the group name.
Click Message to the right of the member’s name
There you have it! A 90s nostalgia blast and some LinkedIn tips to get you ahead of the crowd. Have questions about LinkedIn? Have tips to share? Comment below.
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