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Five Ways to Maximize Your Impact on LinkedIn

LinkedIn can be intimidating to job hunters of all types. Whatever the industry, how can you best utilize the online résumé and social networking site?

According to Diane Spizzirro, the Director of Career Management at Columbia University’s School of Professional Studies, LinkedIn can be key in the job search because it gives users the opportunity to understand what connections may exist, both personally and through groups like colleges and beyond. If your résumé is two dimensional, only highlighting your professional experience, LinkedIn can be an opportunity to present yourself in 3D, showing your personality alongside your skills and experience.

Here are five simple tips and tricks to make your LinkedIn profile stand out.

1. Know your audience and write with them in mind.

Spizzirro works with SPS students to identify their strengths and skills as they get their master’s degree and how those abilities can be useful in the marketplace. That idea of self assessment should also be on a LinkedIn webpage, as it's a chance to show the industry what you can bring to the table as an employee with the story told by your profile.

2. Highlight your skills by using key terms.

One of the most important areas of optimization on LinkedIn is the headline, Spizzirro notes. Many users let the headline default to their current position. The savvy LinkedIn user, however, will customize the headline, she says. Those 120 characters “should highlight who you are and what you bring to the table.” For more conservative employment sectors, your headline should have keywords that describe your hoped-for position and skills; headlines for creative employment sectors can have a little more leeway.

3. Write a summary that shows strengths and personality.

In a time where you have to be your own PR person, don’t ignore the summary, as it’s a place to really shine as a potential candidate. One example, Spizzirro says, was a young woman studying for a master’s degree in communication who was looking for a creative position. This woman’s LinkedIn profile had her summary in emojis, which was a way to highlight her innovation and youthfulness in a competitive field.

4. If you’re a longtime freelancer, reimagine your LinkedIn profile to highlight specific skills and projects.

These individuals should move projects to the top. “Show the work that is relatable,” Spizzirro says.

5. Choose connections carefully.

Unlike other social media sites, LinkedIn is about building a community that will lead to more employment opportunities, so it may not be a good use of time and energy to friend a distant aunt in Finland, in this case.

A good LinkedIn profile, hyperlinked on your résumé, will make a difference in the job hunt. Precision matters: employers spend three seconds looking at a LinkedIn headline. “If they like what they’re reading, they’ll give you 30 seconds," Spizzirro says. The best profiles will earn a more thorough read—and possible contact from the recruiter.