7923280978_e06c9d5532If you’re in the midst of a job search, having a solid LinkedIn presence is a must. With more than 90% of recruiters using LinkedIn to find potential candidates, it’s crucial that all job seekers understand how to capitalize on this trend by creating a strong LinkedIn profile. But with all the features of the site, it can be overwhelming to decide if filling out all of LinkedIn’s suggested fields is helpful and informative or if it simply adds unnecessary noise to your profile.

To help you cut through the confusion and make the most out of your profile, we’ve outline a few of the key steps to help you create a rock-star LinkedIn profile for your job search.

Professional Photo

Your name, headline and photo are the first things people see when they look at your profile, so these are absolute must-haves when creating a LinkedIn profile. Use a professional-looking headshot so people would easily recognize you if they saw you in person.

Avoid group pictures, far away shots, photos that are clearly unprofessional and especially ‘selfies’. Don’t skip the photo just because you don’t have a professional picture. Simply have a friend snap a photo of you in front of a blank wall wearing professional attire. It’s as easy as that.

Descriptive Headlines

Take advantage of the 120 characters LinkedIn offers in your headline to describe what you do — or what you want to do — and the industries you serve. There’s no rule stating that you must use your official job title in the space. By using descriptive words, recruiters will have a much better understanding of who you are and what you do. If that isn’t reason enough, your headline ranks second only to your name in LinkedIn’s keyword search algorithm. In other words, your headline keywords are heavily weighted as search terms.

Thorough, Personalized Summary

The summary section is intended to be all about you. It’s where you tell your story and be yourself. Don’t just use this space to copy-and-paste from your résumé. LinkedIn uses this 2,000-character space in its search algorithm, so be sure to include key words and vital information that you think potential recruiters might be looking for. Adding a “specialties” section in your summary is an easy place to include all the keywords relevant to your role.

And this isn’t the time to be modest; if you’ve received an award or honor that’s relevant to this job search, include it!

If it makes sense for the industry, add media, too. Anything that might beef up your credentials — testimonials, work proofs, past presentations — are all great ways to spice up your profile.

Be sure to include a call to action at the end of your summary that provides easy access to your contact information. For example, “If you’d like to explore working together, email me at johndoe@burnsmcd.com or call me at 816-555-5555.”

Detailed Experience     

Go beyond your traditional résumé content by describing your past work experience in the first person. Using first person is a great way to show your personality and demonstrate confidence and pride; it also makes the content more interesting to read.

Use Keywords

LinkedIn is a search engine. When writing your profile, use keywords that describe what you do and the industries in which you work. The more specific information you provide, the more likely someone is to find and connect with you.

To further improve your profile’s visibility in search results, ask your connections to endorse you for the skills you want to be known for.

Connections and Recommendations

It sounds like a lot, but having at least 200 connections is fundamental when establishing a network big enough to truly be useful and to make you visible within the LinkedIn community. Be proactive about establishing connections on the site. Whether it’s a college classmate or a colleague from your previous employer, you never know who might be able to connect you with a potential job or other business opportunity.

Gather at least two recommendations for each of your most important past positions so your profile is backed by variety of viewpoints and voices.

Custom URL

It’s common for people to overlook this detail, but remembering to do so can make a difference. LinkedIn offers the ability to customize your profile’s URL, rather than the clunky combination of numbers that LinkedIn automatically assigns when you sign up. Use something recognizable, like a combination of your first and last name.

Customizing your URL not only adds a sleek, professional touch, but it will also increase your chances of showing up in an online search. More search results equals more clicks — which equals more views from potential employers.

Remember to Update

Once you’ve completed your profile, don’t forget to use it! Regularly updating your status with relevant industry news will bring your profile to the top of your network’s newsfeed.

This includes joining groups and participating in discussions. There are LinkedIn groups for practically every possible interest, hobby, area of study, school and general topic. By joining a few of these groups, you’re giving yourself the chance to connect with people that might not be in your typical LinkedIn network base. New connections means new job possibilities.

Reposting content from corporate groups or businesses that are relevant to your network is another easy way to stay top of mind.

Don’t Forget the Little Things

Before you send an invitation to someone to connect, make sure your message is tailored and personalized for the recipient. Like any professional message, it should always be polite and give the other person a reason to feel there’s value in accepting your invitation.

If you’ve got a LinkedIn profile, that’s great. And if you’re active on the site, that’s even better. Putting a little effort into fleshing out your profile can go a long way in your job search, and once you’ve gone to all the trouble, ask a colleague to review your profile. Ask them what stands out, what assumptions they make from reading it, and what it doesn’t tell them that would be helpful. Then read theirs and do the same. After all, isn’t that what social networking is: an opportunity to connect and collaborate?

There’s not just one right way to create a LinkedIn profile. The most important thing is a complete profile that accurately tells your story. Once you have the basics in place, you’ll be well on your way to maximizing the channel’s full potential for your job search and beyond.

Mike Myers is a recruiter on Burns & McDonnell’s HR team. He actively uses social media to find new talent for the firm. If you’re interested in learning more about Mike or about opportunities available at Burns & McDonnell, connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter (@MSMrecruiter).

Photo Credit: clasesdeperiodismo via Compfight cc

 

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5 Tips for Career Fair Success

by Jenna Blair on January 28, 2015

359086rktMeeting and interacting with recruiters face-to-face is a critical part of the job search process, and career fairs offer a unique opportunity to make personal connections with potential employers. But beneath the buzzing fluorescent lights and among the hundreds of other job candidates vying for the attention of employers, it’s easy to feel lost and overwhelmed at a career fair. So how do you make the most of your time? Here are five things you can do to make your next career fair a success —  and make your name the one recruiters remember.

Research companies

There will likely be hundreds of companies at your career fair, and it’s impossible to talk to them all. Make the most of your time by identifying five to 10 companies that best match your interests and aspirations. Add these companies to your “must-visit” list and find out as much as you can about them in advance. Get a good feel for who they really are — read about their company culture, industries, projects, clients and recent news highlights. The more you know, the better off you’ll be. The worst thing you can do is stumble up to a booth and ask a recruiter to tell you about the company they’re representing. Demonstrating that you’ve taken the time to research the company shows that you’re serious, thorough and diligent.

Plan your conversations

Even after you’ve narrowed down the list of companies you want to visit, you’ll still only have a sliver of time to leave a lasting impression. Make the most of your minutes with the company representative by preparing a well-crafted “elevator speech.” Be brief, but remember to keep the key ingredients in the mix — your experience, goals and interests. This spiel should be under two minutes and should summarize your story. Perfect this speech by practicing relentlessly, so that you can deliver it naturally, without sounding unrehearsed. To prepare for your conversation wrap-ups, think about the top three things that are most important to you in a career and a potential employer and write down questions relating to these values. Don’t forget: You’re interviewing them, too!

Boost your confidence

Give yourself a little confidence boost before heading to the career fair to help eliminate nervous fumbles. Twenty minutes before leaving, find a quiet space to collect your thoughts and jot down some of the qualities that make you an outstanding candidate. Focus on the value you could bring to an employer. Read over your resume a few times and have your work experience fresh in mind. Resist the urge to read from your resume when talking with recruiters. Be ready to think on your feet and speak clearly.

Polish your presence

Making a positive impression is the first step to landing your dream job. Presenting yourself well in both appearance and attitude will increase your chances immensely. Dress for success with a classic, wrinkle-free suit (including a tie for the guys). Avoid tennis shoes, chunky jewelry and messy ponytails — these can be huge turn-offs for employers.

Let your personality shine during conversations. Clients and employers love working with people who are personable, friendly and self-assured. Exuding warmth and attempting to build an interpersonal connection is the best way to win someone over and be remembered. Even if you’re on the quiet side, letting enthusiasm and sincerity shine through your words will take you far. Your demeanor is what others notice in the first five seconds after meeting you, and a big smile signals confidence and positivity.

Be sure to polish your online presence, too. Your LinkedIn profile can make or break a first impression, so make sure it backs up the experience you touted at the career fair. A complete and comprehensive LinkedIn profile portrays not just the facts, but the story.

Follow up

Don’t let an awesome connection you’ve made at the career fair slip away. Always ask a recruiter about follow-up steps, and be sure to reconnect with each representative you’ve met within a week. Since job fairs capitalize on the personal touch, a sincere handwritten note mailed to the recruiter can enhance your relationship. If you’d rather send a quick e-mail, check out your school’s career center website to find recruiter contact information. Asking a representative for his or her contact information can disrupt the flow of meeting candidates — looking it up on your own demonstrates respect and responsibility.

As you hit the career fair scene, be sure to look for Burns & McDonnell! Our recruiting team will be on campuses looking for top talent to join our team. Check out the Careers section of our website to find out where we’ll be. And be sure to follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook!

If you have any tips for getting the most out of career fairs, we’d love to hear them!

Jenna Blair is a college recruiter for Burns & McDonnell. She recruits for entry-level positions throughout the company and develops relationships with university administrators throughout the country. Feel free to connect with Jenna on LinkedIn to learn more about the many opportunities available at Burns & McDonnell.

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Why Engineers Make Great Leaders

January 14, 2015

We often discuss the potential for career success that comes with earning an engineering degree, but what about the potential for becoming a successful leader? The Harvard Business Review (HBR) recently conducted a study examining the attributes of the Best-Performing CEOs in the World, and we’re not surprised to find engineers rounding out the top […]

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CREW Network Convention Answers the ‘Social Media Why’ for Business

January 12, 2015

There’s no denying the constant role that social media plays in our daily lives, but as professionals, should we really invest our time and efforts into social engagement? The short answer: absolutely! I recently had the opportunity to see Crystal Washington, a social media strategist and co-founder of Socialunities, at this year’s CREW Network annual […]

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Setting Career Goals for the New Year

January 8, 2015

A new year is here, which means many of us resolve to make changes in our lives. Maybe you’ve resolved to lose weight, exercise more or change other lifestyle habits that you’ve been putting off for some time. Why not also make a resolution to move your career forward? Now is the perfect time to […]

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Fighting the Flu: Tips for Staying Healthy at the Office

January 2, 2015

The hectic holidays may have come to a close, but as we welcome the new year, we also find ourselves in the middle of another stressful time of year: flu season. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that flu cases in the U.S. peak in mid-January, and as you head back to work […]

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