When you need to find a new career, LinkedIn is an excellent tool to have on your side. However, a tool is only as successful as the person who wields it. In order to be successful on LinkedIn, you must understand how to optimize your profile and the content the service offers.
Recruiters and potential employers want to feel like they know you before they ever invite you to an interview. One of the best ways to encourage this sentiment is to include a professional headshot on your LinkedIn profile. Please note the word "professional" here: you do not want to include a picture of you partying it up or relaxing on the beach. You want a picture of your head and shoulders in business attire. If you can, arrange to have a solid-colored background to create a clean shot. Use a real camera; cell phone "selfies" don't convey your professionalism.
One of the cardinal sins of using LinkedIn is operating without a completed profile. To encourage recruiters and potential employers to see your profile seriously, you need to have given it thought and filled it out as best you can. Remember to include a summary which details your skills and career goals. For your experience section, consider adding details to your existing resume to fully flesh out the duties and skills you performed and acquired with each position. Remember that every aspect of your profile is customizable, including your title. If you are looking for something particular, consider sharing that information in your title space.
Like most other social media applications, LinkedIn has a way for you to share status updates with your connections. Most professionals choose to use this medium for updates about their fields or personal projects. It is best to keep your updates professional or related to your field, but you may also choose to announce your desire for a career change through this medium.
You can also interact with your connections when they post statuses by commenting on their posts. The most important thing to remember when commenting and when posting your own statuses is that you want to create quality content more than you want to create a lot of content. Update and interact regularly, but be sure your interactions are worth your connections' time.
More and more employers are using LinkedIn to find candidates, and you must not ignore this when you are looking to change careers. Peruse the job posting section frequently to stay up-to-date, and act quickly when you see a posting that interests you. Have your resume ready to send before you look, and have the time to write a thoughtful cover letter to accompany it.