Of all the social media tools you have available to you, I think LinkedIn is the most valuable when it comes to your job search and finding an actual job. Not only can you use its search feature to look for people in your field and companies you might be interested in, but hiring managers and recruiters often use LinkedIn to look for people to fill their openings.
So I think one of the best things you can do for yourself is to create a strong LinkedIn profile. And I’m certainly not the first or last person to say that.
But something that not everyone will tell you is that you don’t need to add all the bells and whistles to your profile. Think of it as a simple, quickie targeted resume – an outline of your main titles and accomplishments that someone can browse quickly and that fits well with where you want to go next, and not where you’ve already been.
Some LinkedIn things you don’t need to worry about
I’ve seen people desperately trying to get tons of recommendations and endorsements and joining all kinds of groups, thinking that’s going to make their LinkedIn profile better. Well, maybe if you’re in a field like public relations it will help. Or if there is some picture you are trying to paint that you think will strengthen your chances. But for most people, you just don’t have to go that far.
People who know anything about LinkedIn (and that includes recruiters and hiring professionals) know that you can pad your profile by asking people to write you recommendations and endorse you all over the place; but that doesn’t make you a better candidate. In fact, it can even divert the focus from what you really want them to see – your skills and experience, as they relate to their needs.
What does matter on LinkedIn
To help employers find you, make sure to create a well-written profile with a strong profile title, job titles, experience statements (plus Skills & Expertise) that contain keywords that relate directly to your field and desired position. Look at other LinkedIn profiles or go to a job search engine (like Monster, Indeed, Careerbuilder) and see what keywords are used in job listings that you might want.
I know someone who got a great manager job at one of the top entertainment companies – and she had ZERO recommendations and endorsements on LinkedIn. What she did have was the experience they were looking for, and she made sure she used keywords in her profile that helped them know it. She also had an easy-to-follow impressive history of progressive experience in her field. Plus a clear-eyed, smiling picture that can make a big difference.
In effect, she had a quickie resume, and I don’t think you need much more than that, unless your particular field would benefit from embellishing beyond the basics. Or, if you have some spectacular recommendations that you think will make a difference. I leave that to you to decide. I just want you to know that it is not a deal-breaker not to have them. And that having them is no guarantee you will get any farther than just the basics would get you.
But then again, in this world of you never know, if you think it might help – and doesn’t divert from the quickie targeted resume you’re creating – by all means do what feels right. Just remember that more sometimes can be less.