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A staffing expert reveals why LinkedIn profiles are a MUST for IT professionals

March 04, 2014
By Melissa McFall

With social media a critical networking and recruiting tool in the IT industry, it has become extremely important that IT job-seekers take charge of their digital brands. And the first step is to create a LinkedIn profile that represents your image as an IT professional.

Not only should your LinkedIn profile exist, it should accurately demonstrate your knowledge, experience and expertise. The reason for this is twofold: 1) According to Forbes, LinkedIn is one of the most widely used recruiting tools for IT recruiters; and 2) If a recruiter obtains your information via another source, one of the first steps they will take is to search for your LinkedIn profile. After working for years as an IT recruiter, I can tell you from personal experience that not being able to find your LinkedIn profile is frustrating to us. It makes recruiters wonder why someone in the technology field is not excited about using the newest technology or tech-savvy enough to know that LinkedIn is a must-have. Therefore, you immediately lose some credibility as a potential contact for future job or networking opportunities.

Not everything about your profile has to be perfect, however; if you’re spiffing it up or just getting started here are some areas of focus:

Make a great first impression

When reviewing a new profile within LinkedIn, the first things recruiters see are your name, title and photo. It is important that you optimize these components to build your professional brand immediately. Provide a title that concisely represents your actual job and experience. Include a profile picture that looks professional—people love to have a visual of the person they plan to engage. It is not always necessary to use a photo taken by a professional photographer. A more casual photo may be acceptable. While there are differing views as to what type of photo to use, I always recommend that your photo should reflect the career path you intend to take. So, if you are seeking an opportunity in senior management, your photo may look like you stepped out of the pages of Coporate America magazine. If you desire a hands-on position with a hip new start-up company, you may choose a picture that is trendier. Whatever picture you decide to use, prior to uploading it, ask yourself if it represents your professional brand. If it does, it may be the right selection.

Accurately explain your skills, knowledge and expertise

In the EXPERIENCE section, provide the title of at least your three most recent positions and a description of your job duties and the technologies you used—be sure to include dates. By using this level of detail, your profile will have a higher chance of being included in search results when colleagues, recruiters and executives use keywords to locate potential hires or contacts. All the information provided in the experience section should help you to tell your professional story. Use it as an opportunity to illustrate all the exciting things you have accomplished. Finally, be sure to include your education if you have a bachelor’s degree or more. People love to connect with others who share an alma mater. 

Get active!

Make connections, join groups, and follow industries of interest. Your name will start to appear in the newsfeeds and daily updates of other LinkedIn members. It is important to choose groups and industries that contribute to fostering your development and brand. For example, you may join a variety of groups that follow the development of mobile technology. These groups could be great supporters of anyone who wants to be seen as an expert in the mobile field or who is interested in learning more about mobile technology. Be selective with the groups you pick so that you are not totally overwhelmed. As you are more active within the group conversations, you will know whom you prefer to connect with.

Starting or revising a LinkedIn profile can be overwhelming, so don’t hesitate to contact your local recruiter to get feedback on how your profile matches up to that of other IT professionals. Good luck and get networking!

Melissa McFall has spent over nine years in the IT staffing and services industry, including six years as an IT recruiter. She is an expert in recruiter/client relations and service delivery.

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