LinkedIn Best Practices
Depending who you speak to and what field you work in the traditional resume is either dead or an essential way of highlighting your accomplishments when you’re in the market for a new job. Regardless of which camp you fall into, keeping your resume up to date in between job searches can be challenging. I’m personally an advocate of using your resume as a template and tweaking it for individual applications so you can highlight experiences that may be more relevant to a specific position — so I tend to show my resume a lot more TLC if I’m actively searching. One thing you should constantly be updating whether you’re pursuing a job change or not is your LinkedIn profile.
How is LinkedIn different than a resume or CV
The number one mistake I see from people using LinkedIn is having a profile that is a verbatim copy of their resume. Think of a resume as a succinct snapshot of the relevant experience you have to a specific position you are applying for. The preferred length of a resume will vary depending on the field and how senior the role is, but one page is the general rule. You don’t need to be as concerned about length when it comes to your LinkedIn profile. While you want to keep your profile up to date, unlike a resume this isn’t something you need to be consistently retailoring for each position you apply for. You can display more information and details than you would on a shorter resume.
What should you be keeping up to date on your profile
Positions Past and Present
Since you don’t have the space restrictions on LinkedIn that you encounter in a one page resume you have the space to include more previous positions if you have years of experience under your belt. Use your discretion though. I don’t include part time positions I had in high school or college because I have over ten years of full time experience and those jobs aren’t relevant to the field I’m currently working in.
With my present company I list promotions as separate jobs so I can highlight the new responsibilities I’ve taken on and successes that have lead to internal advancement. With previous employers I condense my experience into a single entry with the final title I had at the company listed. I list former titles and promotions in the job description. This helps shorten my profile without leaving experience out. You want to find a happy medium of making sure you list your achievements without forcing prospective recruiters and employers to endlessly scroll.
Recommendations & Endorsements
Don’t wait till you’re job searching to start asking for recommendations. A few times a year I reach out to current and former colleagues that I feel could give me a glowing recommendation. I always return the favor, too.
You have the ability to sort your skills that you’d like others to endorse on LinkedIn. You don’t necessarily want the skills you have the most endorsements for at the top, especially if you’re thinking about shifting careers. Put the skills that are most relevant to your current position or the types of positions you’re looking for in the future near the top. You can also ask for endorsements from colleagues if you want to further highlight those strengths.
One of my favorite features of LinkedIn as opposed to a paper resume is the space to include links or downloads to media in your profile and the experience section. I always include links to positive press the companies I’ve worked for have received so prospective employers can get a better sense of the organization.
I include links to media posts I’ve penned for different companies, podcast interviews I’ve given, and articles when I’ve been featured. Since doing this the number of employers and recruiters who contact me when I’m not actively searching has increased. I always take those calls even if I’m not interested in leaving my current position.
Being open to calls can help you learn what about your experience is attracting employers, which is good to be aware of for the future. You also never know when someone may be offering you your dream job. Even if you are content in your current position, it never hurts to have these discussions. You may want to work for that company in the future or that recruiter might move to an organization you’d love to work for and this way you’ll have a contact there.