Linkedin has been around for several years, and a few of my former colleagues have likened it to “Facebook for Professionals.” But it is much more than just another social network; it is a tool to help you find gainful employment, build a network, and at the very least aid in recommending subordinates, co-workers, and teammates in their future job hunts.
Years ago, I created a Linkedin profile solely for the purpose of endorsing my Soldiers who had completed their time in the Army. My profile was very bare bones, but I had a skeleton of job titles and dates of employments. As I thought more about retirement, I fleshed out my profile and added more meat and substance to my profile.
In my year of casually looking for employment, I noticed that my Linkedin profile was key to applying for several jobs in the private and public sector, so I want to share what I have learned or told other military people about Linkedin profiles.
If you don’t have one already, the first thing you should do is create a profile. Besides the reasons previously mentioned, a Linkedin profile helps you remember previous job assignments and duty responsibilities… as long as you remember to add them. I have used my Linkedin profile as my reference tool on several occasions when I tweaked personalized job resumes by seeing which duties and responsibilities fit and matched the specific job requirements.
The next thing you should truly consider the privacy and public viewing settings for your profile. I know several people in the service who set their Linkedin profiles to private. I understand the need to keep lives private, but when it comes to recruiters and job seekers, your resume and parts of your life should be available. I’ve known people who worked at some pretty obscure jobs who made it almost impossible to find on Linkedin, which makes it that much harder to connect and build networks and endorsements. On the other hand though, if you don’t want your picture out there for Google and other search engines to show anyone searching your name, you can set your profile up to not show it to unregistered users. I do.
I cannot stress the importance that you have to have a good portion available for recruiters and head hunters to find you. Your privacy settings also help Linkedin find potential jobs that line up with your job skills or interests.
Speaking of pictures, you should make sure your Linkedin picture is somewhat professional looking. Or at least, avoid all efforts to put in your favorite picture of something blowing up in the background and you looking surprised. A good photo should have your head and shoulders. If you are Active Duty, having your profile picture depict you in uniform is not a big deal, but once you get out of the service, change it. You don’t need to wear a tuxedo or a suit and tie, but you wearing your favorite band t-shirt is not going to help your prospects of landing that supervisor job with the county or state.
When you think you have your Linkedin profile built, Linkedin may suggest a “summary” as a part of your profile’s introduction. I recommend building it yourself. I recently started a new job in the library. Linkedin thought my summary should read as
“Veteran Library assistant with 25 years of experience in supervision, management, and team building.” While those words are true, individually or in phrases, they depict that I’ve been working in a library for decades rather than a month. So, be careful when letting Linkedin or any website autofill or complete your information.
Linkedin is a great tool, and it will help you find jobs in cities you’re looking in. And from what I’ve seen in my previous job searches, Linkedin does not questionable job offerings that I’ve seen on other websites such as Indeed.com and glassdoor.com (though they are still ranked among the best in finding job opportunities). At the very least, use Linkedin to keep an account of your military accomplishments (take bullets and key parts from your NCOER or OER), and build out your professional profile so that when you are no longer wearing the uniform you will have a good start on that resume. And use Linkedin to take care of your subordinates and teammates by endorsing their relevant and corresponding skills.