LinkedIn as your new digital resume

This post is Day #5 in a series called Personal Branding for Software Developers.

The rise to prominence of LinkedIn as the tool of choice for people looking to switch jobs and careers is no coincidence. In the current economy where everyone must do more with less, human resource workers are searching for viable candidates rather than spending big bucks at sites like Monster.com and Dice.com to post a call for resumes. By spending time on LinkedIn they can filter through thousands of resumes instantly and find a suitable group of candidates to contact.

Now before we get down to building our LinkedIn site we need to describe what LinkedIn is and is not. I have often heard LinkedIn described as Facebook for grownups or Facebook for your career. Both of these are fairly accurate but it is also so much more than that. I would describe it as a virtual resume service and networking interface for professionals all wrapped into one site. It is a place where you can create a profile, establish your credentials, develop a viable network of colleagues and expose your professional life to the world.

Some people might be asking themselves why they would want to do this. If they are not on Facebook why would they want to be on LinkedIn? The main reason I would say to join is to get exposure for yourself. You need to get your name out there. When you do a Google search for people their LinkedIn profile is often the first item in the list. This is an excellent place for a recruiter to begin their background research on you.

To get started with LinkedIn browse to the LinkedIn site. You can register yourself here. Because this is going to reflect you in your professional life you want your profile to be perfect. It will take a fair bit of time to develop your profile so that it is reflective of who you are. There are many sections to fill out and I recommend that you take the time to fill them out in length. I often composed my information beforehand in Microsoft Word and only transferred it to my LinkedIn account once I was happy with it.

The goal of filling out your profile is to achieve 100% completeness. Keep in mind that according to LinkedIn users with complete profiles are 40 times more likely to receive opportunities through LinkedIn. A complete profile used to be a lot more difficult as you would need to fill out your various sections and have three recommendations from others. LinkedIn in recently made changes to what 100% complete means. I would recommend you put as much info on your profile as you are comfortable doing. Also keep in mind that LinkedIn does have privacy controls that will allow you to filter what people can see.

However, if you are not comfortable with putting everything on the site then I would focus on putting keywords or descriptors in the following sections: Headline, Summary, Position Titles and Position Descriptions. By adding keywords to these areas you increase your chances of being found within LinkedIn when a search is done. Finally I would add a professional looking headshot to your profile.

As software developers another section I would think about filling out is the Projects section. This area allows you to toot your own horn about personal projects that you have been working on. This could be links to websites you built, apps in a mobile marketplace that people can download or open source projects you contributed to. It could also be a link to your GitHub repository. This section acts as a portfolio of the work you have done over the years.

Once your profile is established you then want to develop your network. You can do this two different ways – searching manually for people you know or by importing your email contacts into the site. Importing through your email is a good first step since you can get the majority of people at once. You will basically be sending them an invitation to join your network and confirm that they know you. You can then add other connections manually through a search.

A question I often see being asked is who should I network with? With this there are two schools of thought – anyone you can and only the select few you want. Some people say your network list should include anyone you have ever met – even in passing. This way you build your network and increase your chances of landing your next opportunity. I think this strategy works well for people in sales and especially people like realtors. My opinion is that software developers should keep it to people you know really well. You want that referral for your next job to come from people who can vouch for you. I heard one person say they only add people that they had dinner with. You can implement a similar set of criteria for yourself as to how you will add people.

One of the neat things about LinkedIn is that other users can write recommendations about you. These were essential to completing your profile not too long ago. However, they still carry some weight with people looking to hire. A recommendation is someone going on the record to salute you for the work you did for them or with them. They generally describe the work you did and how well you did it. It can give you an edge over others if you have a lot of them or if they come from high profile people.

Finally, I want to end with a list of some of the tips I have found helped me in the year that I have been on LinkedIn:

  1. Your LinkedIn public profile address will be a lot of letters and numbers. Within the Settings area you can replace your current address with your name. This is called a vanity URL. So instead of having a link like linkedin.com/pub/ken-cenerelli/##/##/#?# I changed my link to https://www.linkedin.com/in/kencenerelli. This way I have a distinctive URL to promote myself. I could include this link on a business card or send it to prospective employers. It also makes for a clean URL within the Google search engine.
  2. You can make a connection between Twitter and LinkedIn within your page settings. This will allow you to post status updates to your LinkedIn profile page using the #in hashtag. This is a handy thing to have so that you can create some symbiosis between your sites. For more information on this see my previous article on Using Twitter to promote your blog and your personal brand.
  3. Contributing to conversations in the Answers section will also raise your profile. It shows your expertise in various areas and that you are willing to take the time to help others.
  4. LinkedIn has groups for all kinds of interests. Joining one or several in the areas of your interests will also allow you to connect with like-minded people. This can lead to more contacts for you network and also help establish you as an expert.
  5. Use Applications within your pages. Applications are like widgets that you can embed in your page to add more dynamic content. Within my site I have a widget that pulls in my SlideShare files. There is also an Amazon widget where you can mention books that you are reading or have read. You can also write a recommendation on the book.
  6. Within the Additional Information area of your profile you can add links to three external sites you may have. I recommend you take advantage of this. As well, replace the default names of Personal Website, Blog, etc. with the name of the actual site. This will create awareness of your personal site/blog name. Also add your Twitter handle there as well.

With this article I have only begun to scratch the surface of what can be done with LinkedIn. I suggest you Google articles on how to improve and then optimize your LinkedIn profile. By putting in a little bit of effort now it might pay off big later on in terms of landing your dream job.

Advertisements

About Ken Cenerelli
I am a Programmer Writer, .NET Developer, Microsoft MVP - Visual Studio and Development Technologies, Public Speaker, Blogger, and Microsoft Azure Nerd. I blog regularly at kencenerelli.wordpress.com and can be found on Twitter via @KenCenerelli.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: