You've probably heard of it...
But maybe you're still unsure of what LinkedIn is. It is simply an online resource of people in the job world looking to connect. You can use it to establish relationships with employers, coworkers, and people in similar positions. All you have to do is fill out the sections as if it was a job application and get recommendations from people you know.
What You Need to Get Started on LinkedIn
- Your resume
- A list of your skills
- An uploaded picture of yourself. This should be a professional head shot. Remove all brand paraphernalia, sunglasses, and take the picture in good lighting.*
- A notebook to keep track of your username and passwords.
*If you need help uploading a picture to your computer, go to http://www.google.com and in the search box, list the computer that you have and write "upload a picture". For example, "Macbook Pro upload a picture".
Step 1: Signing Up
- Go to Http://www.linkedin.com
- In the box on the first page (see left), enter in your FIRST name, LAST name, your CURRENT/MOST USED e-mail address*, and a password of more than six characters that you can remember.
- Write down everything you just entered into a safe notebook so that you may access your LinkedIn later if you forget which e-mail address or password you used.
- Using your mouse, click "Join Now".
*A Note on E-Mail addresses: Your e-mail address is one of the first and most important things that an employer or potential contact will see, so make sure that it is professional. The best suggestion is a mixture of your first and last name such as JaneDoe@gmail.com, J.Doe@hotmail.com, or DoeJane@aol.com. Hobbies, sports, favorite tv shows or musicians, parental titles (ex: firstname.lastname@example.org, Tylersdad@aal.com), and inappropriate language will reflect poorly to employers and connections.
Step 2: Employment Status and Geographic Location
- In the first box, select the country that you currently live in.
- Enter your zip-code. LinkedIn uses this to establish connections for you.
- Select the title that best describes yourself. If you are unemployed, select "Job Seeker".
- Enter the corresponding information (the information you need to enter will change depending on the type of LinkedIn user you are). If you are currently employed, enter your current and most recent job title, and the company that you work for. If you are unemployed, enter the most recent job title and company that you worked for, as well as the dates of employment. For example, "Driver", "Pizza Hut", "1999-2012". If you are a student, enter your school name, and dates you attended. If you are a CURRENT student, enter the date.
Step 3: Import Contacts to Create Connections
- In the space provided, enter your e-mail address and press "Continue" if you would like to import contacts from your e-mail.
- If you would not like to import contacts, press "Skip this step".
Step 4: Confirm Your E-mail Address
- LinkedIn needs to confirm your e-mail address. There are two ways to do this. The first is by pressing "Confirm" on this page. The second is by having an e-mail sent to you and opening it yourself.*
*To do this option, select "Send a confirmation email instead." Go to your e-mail (if it is via a website such as Yahoo!, or Hotmail, go to that website and check your e-mail). Open the e-mail from LinkedIn. It may take a few moments for the e-mail to appear in your inbox. Be sure to check your "Junk" folder if you do not see an e-mail from LinkedIn.
Step 5: Import Contacts
- If you would like, you may choose to import contacts from your inbox. LinkedIn will scan all the e-mail addresses provided and match them with profiles currently on LinkedIn. If a contact is not on LinkedIn, an e-mail will be sent telling the contact that you have joined LinkedIn and would like to add them as a connection. You can always skip this step.
Step 6: Notify Your Facebook and Twitter
- If you would like, LinkedIn is willing to notify your friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter about your new profile. Simply click on the button and LinkedIn will take you the site to post the message. If you do not have a Facebook or Twitter, or would like to not notify anyone just yet, click "Skip this step".
Step 7: Choose Your LinkedIn Plan
- LinkedIn comes in two options: Premium, and Basic. The free option is the most popular and still allows you a great amount of access to the site.
- If you choose to add the Premium plan, select "Choose Premium" and you will be taken to a page where you can enter your credit card information.
- If you would like to maintain a free plan, or are unsure, select "Choose Basic" or "Skip this step".
- You have now signed up for LinkedIn!
Creating a Dynamic Profile
Step 1: List Your Employment
Now that you have signed up for LinkedIn, you'll need to create a profile. Right now your page is looking overwhelming. But take it step by step and it's not so bad.
- Enter your current position and press "Save". If you are unemployed, press "Skip".
- Enter the dates of your current employment. Press "Save".
- Repeat steps 1 and 2 for all past employment. Press "Save".
Step 2: Education
- In the box provided, type in where you LAST went or currently go to school. Press "Save"
- If you have not attended school, press "Skip this step"
- List your degree type. Press "Save". If you are unsure of your degree, do a search in Google. For example, "4 year degrees science, Michigan State University" or ask a classmate.
- Enter your graduation date. If you are a CURRENT student, add in your expected graduation date. Press "Save".
- Repeat steps 1-4 for all of your colleges, certifications, etc. Press "Save".
Step 3: Add a Photo
- Upload a professional photo of yourself by clicking "Choose File".
- This will open a box on your screen with access to your computer's files. Locate where you have saved your photo. For example, "My Documents" and then "My Pictures". Press "Upload".
- If you do not have a photo, you may skip a step. However, it looks unprofessional to recruiters and makes it hard for people to see who you are.
- Adjust the zoom of the photo. Press "Add to profile."
Step 4: Enter in Your SKILLS
Here is where it is really handy to have a list of your current skills.
- Enter in each skill that you have. You are allowed to post 50 to LinkedIn. It is always possible that as you are typing one skill in, another may come to mind.
- Press "Save."
Step 5: Enter in Your Work Details
Do you still have your resume with you? Good.
- For each job that you listed, describe your duties, achievements, accomplishments, etc. Be as detailed as possible, but also clear and concise. Bullet points using the - symbol works well.
- Press "Save."
Step 6: Share Your Profile with Your Other Networks
- If desired, you can share your newly created profile with your other networks in order to garner more connections.
Beyond the Basics: Improving Your Profile
Step 1: Languages
- If you know another language besides English, press "Yes", or else press "No".
- Enter in as many languages as you know. Press "Save"
Step 2: The Summary
This is one of the most important steps.
- In the space provided, write down an eye-catching summary of what you are doing on LinkedIn. Press "Save".
Step 3: Upload Your Projects
You can use LinkedIn as a digital portfolio.
- If you have any digital samples or projects, select "Yes." If not, select "No."
- Create a title for the project. More than likely, whatever you worked on already had a title. If not, create one that is simple and to the point.
- List the dates of when you worked on this project. If you are still working on the project there are two options. You can select a deadline from the drop-down menu to the right. Or tick the box saying "This project is ongoing".
- Select whether the project with what organization you would associate your project with. For example, was it a project for work or school?
- If your project is available for viewing online, enter in the website that it could be viewed at. If not, press "Skip" or "No URL for this project."
- Describe your project in as clear a manner as possible. Press "Save".
- List anyone else who worked on the project with you, using commas between each name. Employers like to see that you are a team player but can also work alone, so be honest if you worked on a team or by yourself. If you worked on the project by yourself, select "I worked alone on this project". Press "Save".
- If you have other projects, select "Yes" and repeat steps 1-7. If you do not have any other projects, select "No."
Step 4: Courses
For each school that you listed, you have the option of adding courses. This is a good way to showcase different things that you have learned, as well as special projects such as a Thesis.
- Select the school that you attended that classes at. If you would like, you may skip this section by pressing "Skip".
- Add the name of the course such as "English 101" or "Multi-media"
- Press "Next."
Step 5: Publications
- If you have been published in any form, you can link these to LinkedIn. Say "yes" if you have been published. Say "No" if you have not.
- Type in the place of publication. Press "Save."
- Enter in the date of the publication. Press "Save."
- If your publication is available online, enter in the link to access it.
- Type in a quick synopsis of your work. This shouldn't be too in-depth, but enough to entice people to find out more.
- If anyone else helped you in this work, list their names here, separated by commas. Press "Save."
- If you have more published works to add to LinkedIn, repeat steps 1-6. If not, say "No."
You've now created your very own LinkedIn profile. Be sure to update your profile every few months and to participate in groups and messages.