You have earned your technical skills at the Networking Academy. You are certified, skilled, you know your CCNA inside out, and your career skills are in top shape. Your resume is also up to date and you are ready for the job market.
Now, like any good digital native, you know that in today’s labor market there is more than one way of getting onto the recruiters’ radar.
You can scour the company websites for job openings. Sign up to job sites. You can go through your contacts and reach out to the well-connected in pursuit of that dream job.
You can also ensure that your LinkedIn profile is taking at least some of the slack. And working just as hard as you are to get your profile in front of your next employer.
LinkedIn has revolutionized the recruitment sector. The social network has tipped the scales in your favor – yes, yours – so that you decide who, what, and how you want to network professionally.
It is up to you how you use your LinkedIn profile and what you want to use it for: whether it is nailing the dream job; keeping track of new opportunities; checking out companies you might want to work for; staying on top of what is going on in your industry or professional sector; or connecting with people that might just change the course of your career.
And just like any other powerful resource, you can use LinkedIn well. Or you can use it badly.
You can position your profile to your professional advantage. Or you can end up linked out of opportunities.
We have assembled some LinkedIn “dos” and “do nots” to help get you started.
First things first. Are you registered? Creating a profile on LinkedIn is intuitive and quick. But before you sign up, stop and think about a few things.
When you are choosing your profile photo, ask yourself this question: do you look the part you want to play?
A picture is worth a thousand words. And so is you LinkedIn profile photo. So before you go rummaging through your phones selfies, think long and hard about the professional image you want to project to recruiters and companies. What does the photo say about you as a future employee?
What Are You Passionate About?
Before you start to write your profile, think about this: recruiters will sift tens or hundreds of profiles when they are looking to hire someone. What is going to make your profile stand out?
Take some time to think about what you care about in the professional arena – what you stand for, and what your values are. These are the qualities that you will bring with you to your next job.
Draft your profile summary with care. Think of it as your personal elevator pitch. You have limited space and time to really catch the attention of someone how might be interested in hiring you, so make every word count. Why not enlist the help of friends, colleagues, instructors or mentors to write a “tagline” that summarizes you? What would yours be?
What is Your Specialism?
Along these lines, you should also be thinking about what special skills, knowledge, and aptitudes you can offer. LinkedIn has a skills area which helps recruiters refine their search for the right candidates.
Make a list of the special things that you can offer. If you are not sure, take a look at what other users have highlighted about themselves. And ask yourself the question: what skills would an employer on the lookout for in order to recruit for your dream job? Do not forget to include language skills or non-technical skills too that can make your profile more attractive – or more “niche” – to recruiters.
Education and Certifications
LinkedIn is definitely the place to showcase the ones that add to your professional profile.
But what does that mean in practical terms?
Does it mean adding every class you have ever taken? No. Doing so will dilute the impact of the skills you really want to be recognized.
Does it mean adding classes you have taken outside of school? Maybe. Especially if they show initiative or a range of relevant interests.
Does it mean adding your CCNA certification? Definitely.
When you are adding your Cisco certification to your LinkedIn profile, remember that the Certification Authority is “Cisco.” You will only need to add a license number if you are CCIE certified. And the URL you will need to add is: http://www.cisco.com/web/learning/training-index.html
And most importantly, make sure you add Cisco Networking Academy to your education section, so that employers searching for NetAcad talent can find you.
LinkedIn is a social “network.” That means that people use LinkedIn to network with other users.
So you need to get active too. Once your profile is up and running, use the search function to connect with your peers: fellow students, instructors and others. And do not be afraid to ask influencers for an endorsement of your skills, or even a LinkedIn recommendation. Remember to return the favor where appropriate.
Groups are also a great way of networking, staying in touch, making new contacts and sharing valuable information.
There are two groups that you should definitely joins as a Cisco Networking Academy student or graduate: Cisco Networking Academy and Learning @Cisco Certifications.
Here you will find dynamic and diverse groups of people who share professional interests and concerns, as well as updates, notifications and invitations.
Keeping up to Date
So now you have created your profile, you have connected with other and you have joined groups. What is next?
Many of us do not keep our LinkedIn profiles up to date the same as we do our resumes. In practice, that means we simply add a new position on just as soon as we get one – without taking the time to update our previous jobs. And that means rewriting your last job description in the past tense.
Sound unnecessary, or trivial? Well, put yourself in a recruiter’s place. There is nothing more confusing that a profile where every single job you have held since LinkedIn began is written in the present tense.
And as most recruiters will be skimming your profile, you will want to do your very best to ensure you stand out for the right reasons.
NetAcad Advantage Reading Note: Be sure to check out our webinar series: Use Your Online Reputation to Get Hired. You will find both sessions informative and useful as you update your profile. And you will also hear from employers about what they search for on LinkedIn profiles.