Published: July 20, 2017
LinkedIn logos

By Leah Colvin

Having an online presence can be important for working with colleagues around the world and growing your professional network. One of the most common tools for building your online professional brand is the social networking site LinkedIn. LinkedIn’s platform fuses your resume to information sharing and recruiting, making it indispensable in finding jobs outside the faculty realm. Below are four steps to get started on LinkedIn:

1. Complete your profile

A clear and strong LinkedIn profile showcases your professional skills to your colleagues and potential employers in the same way as a master résumé. Furthermore, a complete profile shows higher in search results and can be used to apply to jobs posted on LinkedIn. Including the following elements in your profile will enhance your visibility and recruitability:

  • A professional headshot and background photo that is related to your work. CU Boulder provides such portraits at no cost through Strategic Relations.
  • Concise but complete descriptions of your achievements in each position you’ve held, in bulleted-list format.
  • Links to your published articles, conference papers or abstracts, or other electronic media that you have created. You can also upload your PowerPoint presentations or other documents that showcase your work.
  • A custom URL that includes your name, which can be included on business cards and your email signature to help colleagues easily connect with you.

2. Get connected

Once you have completed and polished your profile, you can begin connecting with current and former colleagues. LinkedIn search algorithms promote profiles with more connections; however, professional etiquette dictates that you generally should only ask to connect with people that you have met, interacted with, or been introduced to by a mutual contact. Generally, you should aim to connect with at least 50 people that you know. Start with peers and mentors from school, prior employment, and your current position. As you meet new colleagues, ask if you can connect on LinkedIn and follow-up with a personalized invitation to connect.

After growing your network, you can take advantage of a few LinkedIn features to improve your profile and catch the eye of potential employers. Increase your profile visibility to provide more information to 3rd-degree connections and recruiters. Show the quality of your work by asking a colleague to trade skill endorsements. Grow your network by asking your connections for introductions to their connections, particularly if you are interested in learning about a particular job sector or employer. Finally, be generous in accepting invitations to connect and providing endorsements to your peers, as long as you are well-familiar with their abilities.

3. Be social

LinkedIn becomes more powerful for professional networking and career growth as you interact more with other users. Update your status regularly by sharing your publications and articles related to your profession that interest you. Keep up with your colleagues by liking and commenting on their status updates. While the pace of LinkedIn is slower than that of other social media sites, it’s a good idea to log in and interact weekly to increase your visibility.

Learn about professional development opportunities or connect with new colleagues by joining groups related to your current or future profession. Looking at what groups your connections have joined is an easy way to find groups in your interest areas, and interacting with group members can also be a great way to grow your network.

4. Find job opportunities                                             

Many companies use LinkedIn to recruit job candidates, either by using recruiters to directly contact users, or by listing job opportunities. To learn about open opportunities, follow companies that you’re interested in working for, and like or comment on their status updates. A company may post a job ad directly on LinkedIn that can be found via the “See jobs” button on the company profile, or by linking to their website’s job ad in a status update.

LinkedIn’s jobs tab has a number of features that are useful to a job seeker. The home page will be populated with jobs that fit your search history and career interests, including geographic location. Any search can be turned into a Job Alert that automatically emails you when a position fitting your search criteria is posted, and LinkedIn Salary can be used along sites like glassdoor to help your negotiation process.