If you are going to start searching for a new job, I strongly urge you to create a LinkedIn profile. Not only do recruiters tend to look up someone's name on LinkedIn when they receive a new application, but they also use LinkedIn to search for potential candidates.

Think of your LinkedIn profile as your online resume...it's a way to highlight your achievements and career goals, and easily let recruiters find you when they have a position that may align with your goals and experience. There are many different sections that can be edited on your LinkedIn profile; I'm going to focus on the top sections that are critical to complete.


Profile Picture

First and Foremost, you need to have a profile picture. According to LinkedIn.com, adding a professional photo to your LinkedIn page makes you 14x more likely to be found. When I say professional, I don't mean you have to go out and get head-shots done. While that definitely will help your image, a clear, cropped photo of your face will work just fine too. Stay away from posting pictures that are blurry, far away, or show off your partying skills. I can't tell you how turned off I am when I come across a candidate flaunting a profile picture of them drinking or doing something silly. Remember that LinkedIn is a professional social media site!


Headline

Though limited to 120 characters, the headline is one of the most important parts of your profile. When a recruiter searches for you, this is the first thing they will see other than your picture. Be brief yet creative and use key words to help identify you as a professional in your industry.

Example: "Organized & detail-oriented office professional who enjoys helping companies grow"


Summary

Besides your profile picture, the LinkedIn summary is one of the first things a recruiter will see when they look at your profile. You want to keep your summary short yet engaging to keep the person viewing your page interested. Write a crisp description, including your present and future business ambitions. Highlight your achievements and show (not tell) your skills and talents. 

Example: Instead of "I'm a rock-star sales professional," mention awards received or metrics that you've hit.

Adding media to your summary can boost your credibility about who you say you are and what you do. Include any videos, screenshots, publications or articles that you are mentioned in if possible. The summary has a 2,000 character max, so avoid the fluff!


Experience

The experience section is where you list past position titles, companies, and responsibilities. Similar to the summary section, try to list out any accomplishments at each of your positions and highlight ways you helped make the company better.

Tip: If you are writing about your current position, write in present tense. If you are writing about previous positions, write in past tense. 


Skills & Endorsements

In this section, it's time to start talking about things you are good at. Here you will add skills that define your professional profile and contributions. Think about your job or education and what parts you enjoyed most. Was it making PowerPoints? Public Speaking? Customer Service? Try to think of at least 10 skills to add here. This gives others who can vouch for you an opportunity to "endorse" your skills (and if they do, think about endorsing them back)! 

Did you know? LinkedIn users who include skills in their profile on average receive 13x more profile views!


Education

Under this section, include all information about degrees acquired and/or schools attended. If something is still in progress, don't be afraid to share that. In order to join alumni groups on LinkedIn you will need to have this information listed to gain access, so don't skip it!


Once you have these six sections filled out, start making connections and joining groups to find other people who share the same interest and passions as you. Post updates of articles you enjoy on your homepage and stay active! It's the best way to find new people and helps get recruiters to find your name other than just searching.