While the idea of posting your career experience, goals and successes online might feel intimidating (and even a bit distasteful), if you're not findable on LinkedIn, you could be passed up for a job opportunity.
To make the most of your LinkedIn profile, first think through these questions:
- What is your goal on LinkedIn? (To be found by employers? To build your personal brand? To promote a business venture or idea?)
- How are you currently known on LinkedIn or otherwise? (Will your strategy for using social networking platforms be to reestablish, establish or repair your reputation?)
- How do you want to be perceived on LinkedIn? (Do you strive to be seen as a subject matter expert? Are you building a brand as a servant leader? Do you seek to continue your military commitments?)
- Who is your target audience? (Which employers do you want to attract? Are you targeting hiring managers or recruiters or someone else in the company?)
- What do they care about? (Are they looking for your keywords to match their job descriptions? Do they look for candidates who promote leadership? Do they want to know you've been published in legitimate outlets?)
Then, use this checklist to ensure you've built a solid LinkedIn profile and plan:
- Have I reviewed LinkedIn's guidelines and suggestions for veterans using their platform?
- Have I used my free 12 months of free premium membership from LinkedIn?
- If not, when should I start it? Now, or closer to transitioning?
- If yes, was it helpful? Can I justify extending it at my own expense?
- Have I watched some of the hundreds of helpful LinkedIn Learning courses to help with my skill building and transition?
- Am I clear about how I want to be positioned?
- Do I need to work on my personal brand strategy?
- Am I clear on my target audience and what they need, want and care about?
- Does my profile picture reflect who I am today and the job I want?
- Is my headshot recent?
- Does it show me in the job I'm looking for?
- Am I still in my military uniform, yet I separated a while ago?
- Should I be smiling in my profile photo?
- Is there anything distracting in the photo (another person, pet, etc.)
- Have I refined my 120-character "headline" to reflect my aspirations and included targeted keywords?
- Do I list the city in which I'll be living when I leave the military?
- Is my summary complete and effective?
- Do I show passion and enthusiasm?
- Am I speaking about myself in first person?
- Have I articulated how my military career has prepared me for my desired civilian job?
- Do I mention why the reader should want to contact me (a call to action)?
- Am I using bulleted lists to break up the copy?
- Have I included the keywords I want to be searched and found by?
- Am I speaking to the value and benefits I bring to the people I work with and for?
- When listing out past experiences, have I listed the companies in the right way? For instance, if I was in the Army, am I listing the employer as "US Army" (so the Army's icon appears) or just "Army," which is not searchable by employers in the same way.
- On my past experiences, have I civilianized my work history so a civilian employer can understand how I added value, drove results and overcame obstacles?
- Have I listed out my volunteer activities and interests?
- Do I have recommendations from respected individuals who can speak to my character, work style, expertise and value?
- Do I belong to groups that show the diversity of my interests?
- Am I asking and answering questions in these groups?
- Do I evaluate every connection request to see how this person will add value to my network, and how I can reciprocate?
- Am I forming meaningful connections on LinkedIn?
- Do I proactively look for ways to start a conversation with my contacts?
- Am I showing appreciation for their connection?
- Do I check to see who's looked at my profile?
- When I send a connection request, do I personalize it to show the person why I'm interested in joining their network?
Posting and Responding
- When posting an update, do I check for spelling and proof for grammar?
- Am I sure my post sources are credible?
- Do I add my own thoughts when I share an article or idea so readers learn about me and my goals?
- When I comment or respond to someone else's post, am I adding value, highlighting my own skills and expertise, and reflecting my brand goals?
While this list is certainly not all-inclusive, it will give you a head start to building a LinkedIn profile and plan that gets you connected to employers and colleagues who can help your career.
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