A LinkedIn profile is expected in the business world today. An active account — whether you're a boardroom executive or a journeyman electrician — says you want to be taken seriously.
There is a good possibility that the paper résumé as we know it will be extinct by 2020, if not before. Social network sites are taking professional schmoozing online like never before and giving job seekers access to people, jobs and opportunities much more effectively.
David Wanika, senior relationship manager with KOR-Tx Print Management System in Jacksonville, Fla., said he used LinkedIn for researching prospective clients, making introductions via their InMail tool, and for maintaining relationships with former clients.
If you are serious about finding employment, you should maximize certain social networks.
Yvonne Hawkins, founder of Joyful Christian Coach in Gainesville, Va., said: "After being downsized in 2011 that (using LinkedIn) proved to be a huge decision." Today she's maximizing the LinkedIn tools as an entrepreneur and certified life coach with a wealth of experience.
In the past, I would have said that you needed to tap into the hidden job market, namely "who you know" because many jobs are not advertised. That's still somewhat true.
But with more than 259 million members worldwide, including executives from every Fortune 500 company, LinkedIn is the world's largest professional network on the Internet. It continues to have tremendous growth because of the tool's practicality in producing a profile page that takes employment information and displays it like an online résumé as well as allowing sample work to be uploaded. You are able to add individual and group projects to your profile. Moreover, you can write references and/or receive them. This is really a template for you to build your personal brand.
Here are a few tips that can increase your employability and advancement opportunities:
■ Add a photo to your profile. A good professional looking photo will draw attention.
■ Update your professional headline to reflect that you're seeking employment and communicate your top attributes. Most recruiters and headhunters use the advance search feature and look for certain key words.
■ Keep your profile current and relative to your career interest.
■ Complete your LinkedIn profile, and check your grammar.
■ Stay active on your profile by posting regular updates and contributing to discussion groups. Join a LinkedIn group or two and get involved in discussions and follow like-minded people or members you aspire to be.
And you might consider creating your own group. "My most effective group is "Links to Jacksonville," a group I created five years ago to pool local professionals into a smaller subset of LinkedIn users," said Wanika.
■ Maximize the LinkedIn tool to the fullest. Attend a LinkedIn "how to" workshop or read articles and tutorials.
■ Secure endorsements and reflect a good balance by giving them as well. However, beware of reciprocal endorsement because recruiters will read right through them. Display only the ones that you determine should be viewed.
Please remember to be safe and use common sense as you accept, correspond, and decide to meet with connections with no established relationships within your professional circles.
If you're interest in receiving a copy of the LinkedIn tutorial, please visit my Facebook Fan Page.
Lenroy Jones is associate director at the University of Kentucky's James W. Stuckert Career Center. Join him on LinkedIn, "like" him at Facebook.com/CareerDude or follow him as @CareerDudeTweet on Twitter.