Your LinkedIn Profile is Critical to Business Success by Barbara Mitchell, managing partner The Mitchell Group The resume as we know it will become obsolete in the next few years. Many organizations want applicants to apply using their online application and many are now encouraging applicants to import their LinkedIn profile into the organization’s online application. Your profile is how you get noticed. Recruiters and executive search professionals actively use LinkedIn to find candidates for job openings. So your profile is critical to your job search! Your LinkedIn profile is also significant to position yourself as a member of the business/academic community. Your LinkedIn page is how people find you and it needs to be well written and complete. LinkedIn will tell you how strong your profile is and how complete it is but you have to do the work to make it as good as it can be. It is worth the effort to make it as comprehensive as possible. You can find consultants to write your profile but that isn’t necessary if you follow some easy steps. Showcase your skills, abilities and strengths. This is your opportunity to sell yourself so don’t hold back! Use keywords that will get you noticed—the keywords you see in job postings for positions you are interested or current buzz words in your field. Your summary should be 3-5 paragraphs long and at least 40 words—doing this will increase your odds of showing up when recruiters are searching for someone with your background. Don’t overlook your educational experience and make it as complete as possible. Include not just your degree but your area of study and extracurricular activities. Include any volunteer experience. List how to reach you—email and phone if possible. Include a recent photo. Your photo on LinkedIn should be as professional a headshot as possible—don’t use pictures of your pets or your kids because LinkedIn is your business networking site as opposed to other social media sites where you have personal connections. Update your profile often to include new information like an article you’ve written or a presentation you’ve given. Your connections will hear about it! Join LinkedIn groups and contribute to online discussions. Ask for recommendations from people you know and trust. Once you have your profile completed and posted, the next big step is to connect with as many people as you know so that you build your network. Start by sending invitations to people you work with now or who you’ve worked with in the past. Invite people you know from your volunteer work or any other source of people you know. Then, as people accept your invitations, take time to look at who their connections are and, if you know any of those people, invite them to connect with you. Within a very short time you can build up your network. Your goal should be to have at least 500 connections. Don’t however, connect with people just to get to a number—only connect with people you know or who are known by people you trust. Phil Harris, DBA, Columbia Southern University’s Academic Program Director, Business Leadership, offered, “Your LinkedIn profile is your gateway to the world. People can see who you are and what you have done. I receive about 100 personal e-mails each day mainly attributed to LinkedIn. If you want to build a network and share your skills, take the time to perfect your LinkedIn profile.” LinkedIn is a powerful tool used by 396 million business professionals today. It’s important for any job seeker and for anyone in business today to be sure your profile is up to date and as good as you can make it. Even if you’re not looking for a new job, LinkedIn can be a great source for finding consultants or others to partner with you on projects. Bio: Barbara Mitchell, managing partner of The Mitchell Group, is co-author of The Big Book of HR and The Essential HR Handbook.