The Answer Lady: Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile

ChoosingQuestion: someone convinced me to create a LinkedIn profile, but I’m not sure how I should fill out my profile to make it “look good” for potential employers and connections. Can you help me?

Answer: Let’s start with the basics. You can provide a lot of information on your profile to give a potential employer or connection a well-rounded look at what you bring to the table.

Start with the Basics

Did you just put in the dates, employer name and location for each employer under the Experience section, and call it good? Start there. But remember, this is your chance to shine. Given the varying page length requirements of traditional paper resumes, LinkedIn provides a nice alternative—you can be more specific about your contributions to your employer. Don’t be too wordy – be concise and use plain language. After all, you are technical communicator – your prose should be clear and easy to understand. See if you can answer these questions to create a solid list of your contributions:

  • How did you help the bottom line? Did customer support calls go down after documentation addressed the pain points?
  • Did you take part in any working groups or committees? What did you do? Did you provide any deliverables? Did you volunteer to learn something new or take on a new challenge?
  • Did you present to your coworkers about trends and technologies?
  • What have you done to continue your education while at your employer (whether employer paid or not)? Did you attend any conferences, webinars, or local seminars?

At the very least, include a bullet list from your resume to give more context to your time at that employer. This is not a place for talking about your employer – this is where you show what you did. If you have a copy of your official job description, this is a perfect place to put it, revised to reflect your actual experience. Companies often consider the official job description listed in the Human Resources system proprietary information, so keep a copy of the job description from your job search to work from.

Summarize Your Srengths

Remember the resume objective? You’ll want to put that in the Summary section. If you have skills for a specific industry or niche, this is where you mention it. Do you specialize in software documentation? Online help? Are you an expert at MadCap Flare? If you’ve got a special skill that is not readily apparent looking at your job experience, list it here.

LinkedIn recently added the ability to add links or upload files. If you’ve made a presentation, written an article or column, or have put your presentation slides on Slideshare, you can make sure those are seen on your profile. If you click on the Edit Profile selection in the Profile navigation area, you’ll be able  to add those links or files. If you’ve got a Slideshare account, make sure you connect it to your LinkedIn profile. (Look under Account Settings > Social, and connect your social profiles. You can also connect your Facebook and Google+ accounts.) Once you connect your Slideshare and LinkedIn profiles,sends status updates to LinkedIn every time you upload a presentation. As always, if you’ve got company oriented presentations, make sure you have permission from your company to link to the content – to avoid intellectual property issues.

Next time, I’ll cover adding skills, groups, and requesting LinkedIn recommendations.

Rachel Houghton

Rachel has been taking photos as a serious amateur since she got her first camera at the age of 16 - a Canon AE-1 Program. She has a Nikon D100, a Nikon D7000, and is anxiously awaiting the new (as yet unannounced) Nikon D400. She's a technical writer, specializing in software documentation and online help, with more than 14 years of technical communication experience. She is a former Secretary for the Society for Technical Communication (STC), past program chair of the STC Technical Communication Summit, and is actively involved in the STC Willamette Valley community and reviews books for the STC journal, Technical Communication. She enjoys photography and Photoshop. Find Rachel on Twitter @rjhoughton or view her photos on Flickr at http://www.flickr.com/photos/rhoughton.

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