1. Treat your profile like your apartment.
If you're actively looking for jobs on LinkedIn, you should regularly polish up your profile. "It represents you," Stevens says. "It's like inviting your potential employers over to a dinner party at your place. If it's messy, they're going to notice." Typos? Incomplete sentences? Fix all of your profile errors, fast--or ask an editor friend to clean them up. (Quiz:Are You Right for Your Job?)
2. Make changes before you make connections.
Whether you're looking for your first job or a switch in careers, you're going to need to update your profile. But remember: LinkedIn notifies your connections every time you make changes. So if you're looking to link with a potential future employer, make your modifications before you reach out. If you edit after you connect, your would-be boss may see the onslaught of alterations and think you're scrambling to hide something, says Stevens.
3. Don't let your business know your business.
When you apply to a job listing on LinkedIn, the site sets you up to follow your potential new employer--who then has the ability to see your profile and activity. Both parts are problematic, Stevens says. On one hand, you don't want your current employer to see your public activity and discover you're on the market. And if you're submitting for multiple jobs, you don't want each company knowing everywhere else you've applied, he says. So disable the automatic feature in your settings. Similar to concealing your activity broadcasts, go into your privacy settings to manage your activity feed. You can also explore various other settings that pertain to groups, companies, and applications in the aptly-named sub tab. (Here are six sneaky ways your use of social media could be hurting you professionally.
4. Get your stalker on.
If you spot a job posting, LinkedIn will usually display the person who put it up. (It will be in the top right hand corner of the screen.) Visit his or her profile and find out if you know anyone in your network who is already connected to that recruiter. If so, ask for an introduction.
5. Let them see you're looking.
When you glance at someone's LinkedIn profile, they get a notification that you've been poking around on their page. It may feel counterintuitive, but Stevens suggests keeping this setting enabled. "If a recruiter sees that you've visited their profile, they might be more inclined to take a look at yours--especially if you've just applied to a position at their company," says Stevens. It may feel like you're betraying your secrecy, but in this case it's a good thing, he says. Don't worry: No one else in your network can see your snooping. (And while you're at it, here are the key tactics you can use to gather intel on others--and yourself.)
6. Don't be boring.
Above all else, "your LinkedIn profile is not a resume," Stevens says. "If you're presenting yourself as boring--with only bullet points and plain language--people won't want to meet you." Stevens' profile, for example, boasts bold, entertaining text: He describes his current job requirements at 24-Hour Fitness as "meetings, travel, and procurement...OH MY!" and defends his diversified career background with a quick acknowledgement that "variety is the spice of life." "It's not about sugarcoating what you've done or if you're unemployed," Stevens says. "The key is to make it interesting."
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