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By Bob McIntosh, CPRW, MBTI '87, '96 MA, Owner of LinkedIn Strategy and ThingsCareerRelated.com

I’ve heard many people say they were encouraged to join LinkedIn because it would be the answer to their job search. Being on LinkedIn will increase your chance of getting a job, but it isn’t a guarantee – especially if you don’t know how to use the tool successfully. I tell these people that they need a LinkedIn strategy and the first step in the strategy is creating a presence.

If you are just getting started on LinkedIn, you should leverage what you have already created: your professional résumé. Copy and paste it into your profile, but don’t stop there. You have a solid foundation for your profile, but you will need to revise it to make it a networking document.

There are a wealth of resources online about creating a powerful profile, but use this simple outline to begin building your presence on LinkedIn with confidence.

Your snapshot area is meant to capture readers’ attention. Use a quality photo and a meaningful headline to brand yourself. Build keywords that recruiters are searching for into your headline. Not sure what to use? Look at some job descriptions for consistent skills and qualities that are in demand in your field. Incorporating keywords will help you garner more visibility.

Your summary can be written in first- or third-person point of view. Include some wow statements and express your passion for what you do. The summary can be up to 2,000 characters – try to use them all. This space allows you to tell your story and incorporate even more key words.

Your experience can resemble your work history from your résumé, or you can simply highlight your accomplishments. I prefer the latter, as hiring managers will find your accomplishments to be more relevant than a list of your responsibilities. You can expand upon your job title to incorporate key words as well. Instead of Project Manager, consider Project Manager | Budget | Lean Six Sigma | Cost Reduction | Leadership.

The media section is where your profile can be really dynamic. It’s like an online portfolio. You can share PowerPoint presentations, videos, documents and more. 

The skills section, formerly called Skills & Expertise, must include at least five skills for your profile to be considered complete. Endorsements are a big draw for this section. People can endorse you for your skills, whether they’ve seen you perform them or not. However, skills and the ability to collect endorsements from your connections promote engagement and increase your status on LinkedIn.

Recommendations provide a space for colleagues and professional contacts to share a deeper endorsement of your skills than the skill section. Your recommenders can share a story of your work together that presents a picture of you as a valuable employee or team member. Consider employers, colleagues and clients as potential sources of recommendations.

The interests section provides a space to bring in a fuller picture of yourself and include interests and hobbies within and outside the scope of your professional activities.

Your education includes more information than what you would include on your résumé. You are encouraged to expound upon your degree and training. You can optionally include dates you attended, GPA, activities & societies, courses and more.

With these eight areas of your profile completed, you’re well on your way to creating a presence on LinkedIn.

Bob McIntosh ’87, ’96 MA is a participant in the UMass Amherst Alumni Association Career Counselors program. Contact Bob to learn more about his services, including LinkedIn profile development and MBTI assessment for job seekers and professionals navigating a career transitionFor additional career resources, including online tools and free webinars, visit UMassAlumni.com.