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How To Build The Perfect LinkedIn Profile

LinkedIn is the best social media platform to develop and  showcase your professional brand and interact with other industry influencers. It’s also an increasingly important component of the hiring process, with 94% of employers referring to a candidate’s LinkedIn profile before extending an offer.

We’ve already gone through the don’ts of social media for professionals, and now we’re going to focus on the dos. Specifically, how you can craft a killer LinkedIn profile that properly showcases your skills, abilities, and your impeccable personal brand.

1. The Profile Photo

According to LinkedIn, users with a profile photo are 14 times more likely to be viewed than those without them. So yes, you absolutely need one. But you need the right one. Your profile photo should be a recent headshot of you in professional dress. A neutral background is best, but don’t be afraid to showcase some warmth and personality. Avoid photos of you in unprofessional situations, like your recent beach vacation or a raucous happy hour.

2. The Headline

Your headline is only 120 characters long, but it is the most important part of your profile. Keep yours concise but creative, and use as many industry keywords as you can, without resorting to clichés (translation: no generic buzzwords). It may take some time, but the right headline will make you much more visible when others search your industry.

3. The Summary

The first part of your background tops out at a 2,000 character max. While you don’t have to (and likely shouldn’t) fill this entire section to the brim, you should aim for at least 40 characters to maximize your SEO potential. Like your headline, your summary should showcase your personal brand while remaining succinct and employing strategic industry keywords . Focus on your skills and accomplishments, and include links to examples of your work wherever possible. This last step adds considerable credibility, and provides your connections with solid examples of your work.

4. Experience

You have the most freedom in your experience section, with 100 characters for your position title and an additional 2,000 characters per description. This section should read like your dream résumé, where you can list all previous experience and accomplishments without any fear of page limits. That does not mean it should be long-winded and effusive. On the contrary, it should remain as clean, clear, and precise as the rest of your profile. And, of course, your actual résumé. But you can add links to videos, websites, or other examples of your accomplishments that are not possible with a traditional résumé. And be sure to include volunteer experience, as this reflects favorably on employers and colleagues.

5. Projects

This section showcases past and present projects, and like the rest of your profile, it is always an excellent idea to include links to actual deliverables whenever possible. You can include everything from white papers to graphic design, so be sure to list all relevant accomplishments.

6. Education

Like in your résumé, you should include information on institutions attended and degrees earned. Unlike a résumé, you can highlight relevant courses or assignments to increase your specificity and credibility. Furthermore, this section is a great tool to connect with other alumni, like your old college roommate or your favorite professor.

7. Skills and Endorsements

This section is second only to your summary in its importance and potential. Listing your discrete skills for potential employers to see is an excellent way to get noticed, and the more endorsements those skills have, the more credible you are as an influencer and candidate. Don’t be afraid to reach out to previous employers or colleagues to request these endorsements. If you’d like to take this a step further, your professional connections can even submit recommendations that will be published directly to your profile!

8. Post Regularly

Like Facebook, LinkedIn allows users to post updates – articles, photos, etc. – as often as they please. Unlike Facebook, however, your LinkedIn posts should always remain strictly professional. For example, a clear photo of a conference or industry event is encouraged, but photos of your beach vacation are not. If you do post articles, make sure they are related to your industry. Whenever possible, include a picture in any article posts to ensure that it will be seen by more people.

6 Tips to Ace a Phone Interview

In today’s fast-paced economy, many employers are now opting for initial phone screenings of potential candidates as opposed to an in-person interview. This added step allows companies to sort through candidates without committing to the expense and time required for on-site meetings. It also requires an entirely different set of interview skills on the part of candidates, whose assets are suddenly condensed to their voice, tone, and personality.

If you’re searching for a new job, chances are you will experience at least one phone screening. As with any interview, you’ll need to bring your A-game if you’re going to land the job. We’ve compiled all of the tips you need in order to ace your next phone interview.

1. Don’t Wing It

Often, phone interviews are conducted by human resources employees who are trained to determine quickly whether you meet the basic job requirements, and make initial judgments about personality, temperament, communication style, and salary expectations. Therefore, although they are usually less than half an hour long, they can yield a wealth of information to the screener.

That is why it is so important to take the proper time to prepare (see below). If a screener calls you and asks whether you are available now for a phone interview, it is always in your best interest to let the interviewer know that you are not in a place to speak freely, but would love to schedule a call within the next week.

2. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

As with any interview, you should prepare by exhaustively researching the company and position you are applying to. You should also prepare to answer detailed questions about your work history and qualifications. Be sure you are able to address any significant gaps in your employment history, and can justify every career move. Know every bullet point of your qualifications so that you can go into detail when asked. Be sure your phone is charged and you have plenty of time if the interview goes longer than anticipated.

And, as a final step, search for a photo of the person you will be speaking to online (LinkedIn may come in handy here). You will feel more comfortable in your responses if you can visualize who you are speaking to.

3. Act Like They Can See You

While it may be tempting to conduct an interview in your pajamas, you’re much more likely to feel and sound professional if you look the part. Put on professional clothing that makes you feel comfortable and confident, brush your teeth, and get your game face on. Be sure that all sounds and distractions – televisions, pets, traffic noises – are accounted for and eliminated before the call.

And don’t forget to smile! Any customer service representative can tell you that smiles can be heard and felt regardless of whether the person you’re speaking to can see you. It will be much harder to sound tense, nervous, or uncertain if you have a smile on your face.

4. Act Like They Can’t See You

Now that you’ve covered the basics, take advantage of the fact that your screener will not, in fact, be able to see you. Get up and walk around – you’re more likely to sound prepared and confident if you are standing than if you are sitting. Compile all of your notes, your résumé, and your application in one place so that you can reference them easily during the interview. To eliminate the sound of paper shuffling, you can even tape your paperwork at eye level.

5. Request Next Steps & Contact Information

Before you hang up, be sure to ask your screener what the next steps will be, and when you can expect someone to follow up with you. Then, be sure to request your screener’s contact information (email and phone) so that you can complete the next step below.

6. Follow Up

Even if it’s “just a phone interview,” you should still follow up with a written thank you note to your interviewer within 24-48 hours. Be sure to express your gratitude for the opportunity to discuss the position in detail, and summarize what you spoke about on the phone. If you want to sound especially clever, include a short blurb and a link to an article about a recent occurrence at the company that you found during your research.

The Social Media Mistakes that Could Keep You from Getting Hired

A 2014 study showed that 93% of hiring managers review an applicant’s social media profile before making a hiring decision, and that 55% of them had reconsidered a candidate based on what they found. In 61% of these instances, the candidates’ social media blunders lost them the job offer.

But what are candidates doing to scare away hiring managers in droves?

1. Keep It Clean

Let’s start with the obvious. References to illegal drugs scare away 83% of surveyed recruiters (although 2% do say it’s a positive, if you want to chance it), sexually explicit posts are a turn off for 70% of recruiters, profanity is a deterrent to two thirds of recruiters, guns are a negative to over half of them, and alcohol is “concerning” to a further 44%.

The simple solution is to leave common vices off your social media account, whether it be a status update, a profile picture, or a post by a friend. If you are unable or unwilling to do so on your personal social media accounts, you may want to consider creating and curating separate accounts for your professional self.

2. Keep It Professional

Aggressive, politicized posts can be a turn off to recruiters, and just over 1 in 6 said that any indication of your political affiliations could be a potential negative. So can posts about bad work behaviors – whether yours or another’s – as they showcase questionable business ethics. Furthermore, posts that bash current or previous employers and clients are a huge turn off, and can even get you fired.

Our advice – for finding a new job and keeping your current one – is to ensure that anything you post on social media could double as break-room conversation fodder. If you can say it around the water cooler, you can (probably) say it on social media.

3. Grammar, Spelling, and Grammar

We all hated spelling tests in school, and diagramming sentences was a special sort of punishment. The anarchy of the digital world was an excellent opportunity to escape the tyrannies of our jr. high English class. Comma splices, ebonics, acronyms, and a complete disregard for punctuation flourished in this untamed land!

Alas, this hasn’t stopped 66% of recruiters from holding bad grammar and poor spelling on social media profiles against many hapless job candidates. So if you’ve been hiding from your ancient language arts enemies, Revising and Editing (you know who you are), it may be time to call a truce.

4. Use Those Privacy Controls

Whether or not your social media persona squeaky clean, you should always employe carefully chosen privacy controls to protect your content from unwanted eyes. Some platforms, like Facebook, allow for extreme levels of specificity, making any post visible or invisible to select groups you can choose and customize each time you post. Take the time to explore the levels of privacy control available to you on your social media profiles so that you can customize your posts accordingly.

Another strategy to consider is changing or altering your first or last name so that you are not easily searchable. Using a nickname, middle name, or even a silly character name could deter unwanted cyber stalking and leave your social media accounts untouched.

And, if all else fails, you can simply deactivate your existing social media accounts while searching for a new job.

For tips on how to add value to your social media accounts and actually increase your chances of getting hired using social networks, click here.

Whatever you choose, be sure to stay smart with your social media choices to land the job of your dreams!