Professional Networking Sites

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Lots of recruitment companies and HR professionals use professional networking sites - sites like LinkedIn - as part of their recruitment strategy. These sites are becoming a major online part of the hidden job market. If you're looking for work - particularly professional work - it's important that a professional online profile is part of your job-searching strategy.

That doesn't just mean whacking up a resume on one of these sites and thinking it's job done, though. In order to get the most out of your professional online profile you have to be continually managing and updating it, as well as your overall presence online.

5 Tips for Setting Up a Profile

Here are five easy tips for setting up a profile on a professional networking site:

1. Start with a Great Resume

Many professional networking sites let you upload your resume as part of your profile. A well-written resume can be the basis for your profile.

Check out our How to Write a Resume page for more about putting a resume together.

2. Use a Professional Photo

Professional networking sites aren't like Facebook. They're meant to be for professionals, so make sure that your photo makes you look like one. No funny faces or wacky costumes - just you in the clothes that you'd wear to work. Take a photo of yourself specifically for the site, or get a friend to help you take one.

3. Use Keywords

Make sure you include key information about things like:

  • Your skills
  • Your technical abilities
  • Any tools or software you can use
  • The position titles of previous jobs

Recruiters look for this sort of thing when they search through profiles - providing lots of information about yourself will mean you turn up in their searches more often.

For more about using keywords, check out our How to Write a Resume page.

4. Include Referee Statements

It's a great idea to add referee statements (also known as "testimonials") to your profile - they're a great way to immediately demonstrate that you impressed others with your past performance.

Some professional networking sites let you ask people in your networks for endorsements and - if they've worked with you before - testimonials. You can also contact people directly outside of networking sites if that's easier.

For more about testimonials and referes, check out our How to Write a Resume and Who Can Be My Referee? pages

5. Keep Your Resume and Profile the Same

It's extremely important that your online profile and your actual resume match. Make sure that both documents have all the same information. Any time you update one, make sure you update the other one too.

Do Some Networking

Professional networking sites often have tools that let you expand your professional networks. You should use these tools to meet more people. That way you'll be exposed to more chances to either develop your skills, or even get a job.

Expanding your network could involve finding and reaching out to:

  • People you've worked with before
  • People you currently work with
  • Other people who work in the field you're interested in

By actively staying in touch with these kinds of people, you can establish yourself as someone with useful skills. You'll also be able to tap into the hidden job market.

Join a Group

Most professional networking sites also let you join groups of people in specific industries, or with particular professional interests. Consider joining groups relevant to the are you want to work in. If you do join a group, don't just lurk - interact with people.

When you do interact with others, make sure you do it as professionally as possible. Here's a few tips for professional interaction:

  • Be polite
  • Think before you type
  • Read the whole post before you respond to it
  • Read over your posts before you submit them
  • Try not to post too often - let others have room to comment

Sign up for Job Alerts

Most professional networking sites let you sign up for email alerts that let you know about job vacancies at companies that match the interests and skills listed in your own profile.

Signing up for a few of these can keep you on top of some good job opportunities that may not be advertised in the other usual places.

Stay Professional

The most important thing to remember is that professional networking sites are just that: professional. Unlike social networking sites, the focus of the content you put on your professional networking profile should show that you're a high-quality professional individual.

For more about professionalism online, check out our Managing Your Online Image page.

More and more organisations are using professional networking sites and other online tools as low-cost recruiting solutions. To take advantage of this, just remember the importance of the content on your online profiles.

If you keep your professional network profile updated and actively use it to build your networks, you never know what opportunities could come up.