LinkedIn is the leading online directory of professionals and companies. Both individuals and companies use LinkedIn for professional networking, recruiting, job searching, career building, and staying in touch with connections.
Many companies use LinkedIn's Talent Solutions, a tool that helps a hiring manager or recruiter use LinkedIn to find job candidates. Other companies use LinkedIn independently to find and recruit potential employees.
Because so many employers use LinkedIn for hiring purposes, it is important for job seekers to have a strong presence on LinkedIn, and use the site actively.
How to Sign Up for LinkedIn
In order to log in to LinkedIn, you'll first need to sign up to join. It's free—and simple—to create a LinkedIn account. Here's how:
- Visit LinkedIn
- Enter your first and last name
- Enter your email address
- Create a password (choose your own password; must be six or more characters)
- Click “Join now”
Your LinkedIn password is case-sensitive. Strong passwords contain both letters, numbers, and special characters. If you ever forget your password you can ask to have it reset, and a link will be sent to the email you used when you enrolled.
Once you've set up your profile, you'll be able to add your work experience, education, skills, and other credentials. Here's the best way to use LinkedIn.
Creating a Business Page
If you are building a business page, you will also need to select the size of the business you have or if the page is for an educational institute or to showcase the company.
LinkedIn offers specific tools to help you grow your network, depending on the type of company page you build.
How to Log In to LinkedIn
Once you have created a profile, you'll be able to sign in to your LinkedIn account to update your profile, connect with networking contacts, send messages to those contacts, job search, find information on hiring companies, and join career and business-related groups. Here's how to log in:
- Visit LinkedIn
- Enter your email address
- Enter your password
- Click “Sign in”
- You should be brought to your "Home" page. Click on "Me" in the top right corner of the page to go to your profile and make any edits.
It's important to log in to LinkedIn regularly to work on building your network of contacts and to keep your profile updated.
Start Your Profile With a Great Photo
After you have signed up for a LinkedIn account, you'll be able to create your LinkedIn profile. Most businesses and individuals start with a friendly and engaging photograph:
- The photo should be a recent headshot and look professional.
- Make sure your face is centered in the image and wear work-appropriate clothing.
- For a business, this can be your company logo or another image.
Add a Background Image
LinkedIn also offers you an option to add a background photo to your profile page. If you choose to do this, use an image related to your professional life. For example, if you are a graphic designer, you might include an image you created. If you are an art historian, you could add an image of a painting you have written about.
Write Your LinkedIn Headline
The headline will appear just below your photo or business logo. This item should be short, catchy, and describe what makes you unique. It can also be your current job title.
Make your headline stand out by describing your primary skill or ability.
For example, "A data-crunching research firm that crushes the competition" or "Top accountant to small and large clients alike." “Technology products branding exec looking to make small businesses skyrocket” shows how you might add value to a company. The Headline is essentially the online brand that you're putting out there to the world.
Your headline, name, and photo are the first things a LinkedIn user sees when searching LinkedIn and discovering your profile. Those elements determine whether the reader will click through to your full profile.
Summarize Your Credentials
Add a summary at the top of your profile, which is similar to a resume summary. The summary should give a general overview of skills and abilities. List your career goals and the strengths you can bring to the team. Include any specialized degrees, coding languages, or experience.
Look at your summary as your personal brand and keep it focused on you.
This section can be relatively freeform and written in the first-person as a narrative or a professional introduction, like someone might give as they introduce you before a speech.
Create Your Experience Profile
You should include all the same information as your current resume or curriculum vitae in your profile. This information will include your past and present employment, education, volunteer experience, and skills. Use your profile like a resume and provide prospective employers with detailed information about your skills and experience.
With a more complete LinkedIn profile, you're more likely to be contacted by a recruiter or employer.
Include promotions you may have received at a position. Also, add any accomplishments you had while with the firm. If you reduced customer wait time by instituting a new system, handled the preparation of bringing a new system online, or created a better organization of files for the company, for example, include these efforts.
As you build this section, LinkedIn will offer to include the company's logo if they also have a LinkedIn page. Adding the logo will allow those viewing your profile to navigate to the company and see the information contained there. Add samples of work you completed for clients.
Ask clients and colleagues to write testimonials about your work and work ethic. These comments give prospective employers an idea of how you work with others in a business setting.
One of the best ways to get recommendations is by giving them to others.
Your connections will be more likely to give you a recommendation in return if you have provided them with one.
LinkedIn offers various skills assessments that you can take and include in your profile. These include technical, business, design, and general assessments.
Stand Out From the Crowd
Finally, make your profile unique. If you're simply creating a dull laundry list of previous jobs, add some elements to jazz up your profile. These elements can include a presentation video, a speech you gave, or a link to an article you've published.
Click on “Add New Profile Section,” and then click on “Accomplishments,” to see how to add a project or other unique component to your page. You can also add volunteer experience, certifications and licenses, and your education.
Networking on LinkedIn
It's critical to put in the time to build your profile, add to your connections, and effectively use your contacts to aid in your job search.
It's also important to give back and help your connections when they need advice and referrals.
Networking is about building relationships rather than just asking for assistance, and it works both ways.