Five steps to make LinkedIn work for you

Stephanie Black

LinkedIn has become a hunting ground for thousands of scouting employers looking for their next star employee. With more than 135 million members, according to its website, how can you “wow” an employer within the limited space provided?

Step 1: Appear Professional

Tim Roberts, lecturer in journalism and mass communication, said the first step in getting an employer’s attention is a professional profile picture.

“It doesn’t have to be studio quality, but it should show you in a respectful light,” he said. “You should be the only one in the picture and it should only show you from the neck up.”

Rhett Butler, a junior nutrition and food major, cropped a recent family photo for his main picture.

“I liked the genuine smile on my face,” he said. “It shows my personality and I think that’s important.”

Step two: Say what you do, not what you’re called

With a captivating picture, employers will be enticed to read your title. This is where many members lose an employer’s attention, said Ryan McNaughton, career counselor at the Career Services Center.

“Use this space to describe what you do, not what your title is,” McNaughton said. “Instead of writing career counselor, I wrote, ‘I help Kent State students/alumni find meaningful majors and careers through assessments, discussion and networking.’”

Step three: Who are you?

Your summary section should resemble a cover letter explaining why you should be hired and briefly stating your credibility, Roberts said.

“Make sure to leave this section general,” he said. “Having a tailored cover letter will only appeal to a small audience, which will narrow down your chances.”

This section is a good place to add some personality and talk about your past experience and goals, McNaughton said.

Step four: Show off a little

One of the most effective uses of LinkedIn is the ability to prove your credibility. A LinkedIn profile is an opportunity to show your skills beyond the resume, Roberts said.

Providing links to a WordPress account, online work portfolio or social media account can help add depth to your profile and show potential employers what you are capable of.

“Make sure all sites provided are professional and well-maintained,” Roberts said. “If you provide your Facebook information, there shouldn’t be any profanity or inappropriate pictures viewable.”

To provide potential employers with additional work, McNaughton added a linked personal website to his LinkedIn account.

Step five: Build Credibility

The final step to boosting your LinkedIn account is networking.

“From my experience, only 3 to 4 percent of jobs make it to online job boards,” McNaughton said. “The rest are communicated by word-of-mouth, making networking more important than ever.”

Think of your recommendations on LinkedIn as third-party endorsements, like references on your resume, Roberts said. “I recommend a past employer or a professor that you’ve had multiple classes with,” he added.

At the end of the day, LinkedIn is a free service that can only be of benefit to you, McNaughton said. Used correctly, it can be a big influence on helping you land the job.

Contact Stephanie Black at [email protected].