Keeping your social media profiles updated is a key component to your success. If you want potential opportunities to come your way via social media channels, then your profile has to be current. This is especially true if you are using social media as part of your strategy to get a new job.
Since 2002, LinkedIn has been building the world’s largest professional network on the Internet. It now has more than 90 million users in 200 countries, who conducted nearly two billion people searches last year.
LinkedIn recently introduced a new section to user profiles, which helps you organize your skills and assets. In this new section, displayed immediately after your education credentials, you can add a section that highlights skills, languages, patents, certifications and publications. Prior to this, you had to get creative and figure out a good place to place these brag-worthy items, often in the education or summary sections. Now they can stand out on their own and show what a well-rounded job candidate you are.
When LinkedIn introduced this new section, the immediate thought would be that showcasing these areas on your profile would move you up in LinkedIn search queries — and it very well may do that. But it appears that some of the new sections might not be in the search algorithms… yet. That being said, don’t ignore what these new sections can add to your LinkedIn profile and how they might impress the recruiters who might be searching for you.
Think Like a Recruiter
Dingee also emphasizes the importance of noting certifications. “I still meet so many hiring managers that look for, or shall I say ‘prefer’ certifications. This section now allows people to document such achievements, and they’ll be keyword-searchable.” She notes that jobseekers can use acronyms as well as phrases to optimize their profile for searches. For example, a recipient of the SPHR would not only use the acronym, but also “Senior Professional in Human Resources.”
Ultimately, the importance of these new sections is to profile your experience to make yourself more discoverable to a recruiter. Dingee adds, “I’ve been doing a lot of recruiting in the healthcare research arena, and I have to do spend double the effort to research both LinkedIn to capture profiles and PubMed to cross-reference publications. It would be huge to have people document their publications on the site to allow one-stop shopping for someone like me.”
Don’t Fake It
As more people try to leverage the benefits of LinkedIn, having an optimized profile becomes essential. However, this doesn’t mean that you should use this new section to manipulate your background to increase where you show up in the rankings.
Viveka von Rosen, founder and social media evangelist for Linked into Business, a consultancy specializing in training for social media and inbound marketing, says this is the real strength of the new skills section. “Showing up in the skills search doesn’t seem to be affected by how many times you put variations of your keywords in the skills section. Trust me -– I’ve tested it! Many of the experts listed in the skills section don’t have optimized profiles, and don’t show up in a simple LinkedIn People Search under those same skills. This indicates to me that perhaps the skills section more accurately displays those with true skills.”
Remember that your goal is to get the interview, and von Rosen cautions you might be expected to prove what you claimed to be true. “I would highly recommend to LinkedIn users, jobseekers and candidates that they make sure to list their true qualifications and skills in this section. Not because it will get them found in a search, but because this is where you can differentiate yourself from the pack. Don’t list yourself as an expert in your field if you aren’t.”
Target Your Strengths
There’s a consensus that the desired outcome in completing LinkedIn’s skills and certification sections is to make yourself easier to be found online –- and for the right things. Mike Ramer CPC CSP, president of Ramer Search Consultants, which specializes in recruiting mid-to-senior level professionals for the banking, medical, media and energy industries, points out the importance of pinpointing your strengths with the new skills section. “If you are looking for a job, recruiters look for specific skill sets. If they see a match, they will contact you,” he says.
Ramer says the pros outweigh the cons for users to complete these sections, and he shares some guidance on how to focus your credentials. “I would advise users to be 100% accurate and not over-list. Select the key skills and credentials you want to be known for. Don’t include a laundry list of certifications that have expired or are out-of-date.”
And while all of the new sections are important to complete, if you only have the inclination to choose one, Ramer suggests either certifications or skills. “These are the most global, that is, the majority of people seeking to connect with others will look for this first and it allows you to identify yourself as a professional in your field. For example, I am a CPC (Certified Personnel Consultant) and a CSP (Certified Staffing Professional). If you have specific credentials or certifications in your industry, for example, a CPA, MBA or SPHR, you can list these and be found by others.”
Market Your Expertise
Even if you’re not looking for a job today, your LinkedIn profile serves as a professional introduction of your experience and expertise. Jennifer McClure, president of Unbridled Talent LLC, a consulting firm focused on innovative solutions in the areas of attracting, recruiting and developing employees, says your LinkedIn profile is part of your personal brand. “Often LinkedIn profiles aren’t fully completed either because people are intimidated by the idea of writing a professional summary or aren’t skilled at effectively summarizing their experience. Many users are also ‘passive’ in terms of considering job opportunities, so they don’t feel that they need to do much with their profile. LinkedIn profiles should be viewed as a personal marketing brochure and as such, they need to be concise, informative and compelling.”
Focus on the word concise. McClure notes that because the skills section allows users to select as many skills as they would like, they run the risk of adding too much information to their profiles that isn’t relevant or doesn’t differentiate them in any way. “Listing relevant skills in the skills section that truly differentiate a candidate can be helpful because LinkedIn users are also asked to indicate their level and number of years of experience with each skill.”
McClure recommends steering clear of the skills listed in the auto-complete drop downs. “They’re a bit ambiguous and don’t really add anything to a person’s portfolio of experience. For example: ‘documentation,’ ‘planning,’ ‘teamwork.’ Many also fall into the recently published over-used LinkedIn profile buzzwords. Users shouldn’t be encouraged to perpetuate that!”
LinkedIn continues to make adjustments and improvements to the user experience, all of which are all designed to connect business professionals and create opportunities. If you are looking to showcase your skills and experience and make your profile stand out, these new features are worth checking out.