While LinkedIn promotes itself as a job search tool, I find it much more valuable as my professional on-line presence. It's a great way to prospect potential employers and people that I want to include in my network. I've learned that optimizing my profile page with a few quick tips really improved my rankings when people searched for me and made it more likely for them to engage with me further. There are quite a few good resources out there for anyone getting started on LinkedIn, and I've posted them below. However, I'll break down a few things that I've learned as a veteran with my LinkedIn profile.
Use a good head shot!
I'm talking about your photo here, not where you aim your service rifle. When you're getting serious about promoting yourself, you need to update your photo. Command photos or epic outdoors shots are not bad per se, but they don't support any message that you're trying to get across -- unless you're trying to say you're a badass, which is fine, but you might be an unemployed badass.
Nope, that won't do. You're going to be a civilian and you want to show that you can look the part -- a motivated and charming one, at that. Your picture does not have to be professionally done, but I would take the effort to have somebody take a photo for you against a plain background from the chest or waist up. Cropping old photos of yourself from group pictures or in random settings like the outdoors or the middle of a battlefield does not tell most of the people you want to connect with that you are professional or personable. Do some light editing on the picture. And if you can't, find someone with a modicum of technical skill who can help you. You don't need to photoshop the picture so you look like a model. Just use the software that comes with your laptop or computer to crop the image and optimize the color and sharpness. This is usually a one button option for simple photo editing tools. I would also suggest that you compress the picture, because LinkedIn has a limit to the size of the picture you can upload. One other benefit of editing a picture specifically for this task is that you can ensure that it is the right file size so that you don't suffer the problem of the grainy image.
Your profile is not a resume
You don't need to copy and paste your resume into LinkedIn. You can put a lot of information up on your LinkedIn page, but it shouldn't be exactly the same as your resume because it just wouldn't look right. And who's going to read all that anyway? If your potential employer sees everything on your profile, what more are they going to learn when they get your resume? Take your profile as an opportunity to market yourself in a different medium. Include your job positions, but provide highlights that will be relevant to a wide range of your audience. Or just put in a few bullet points to clarify what you did for each.
Take advantage of LinkedIn's various categories.
Your profile can actually contain a great deal more information than your resume while presenting it in a much more appealing way. LinkedIn allows you to separate things like Languages, Certifications, and Education. You know all that amazing training that you did in the military that taught you real transferable skills for the civilian world but that nobody but veterans understand? You can explain it in these categories. For example, if you went to Captain's Career Course with the Army, you can also include a little snippet about how it is a top management and leadership school.
Got any other tips on how to optimize your LinkedIn profile? Comment below.
And check out a few of these links for some more great tips: