How To Get Maximum Traction From Your LinkedIn Profile
LinkedIn is an excellent, but sometimes overlooked, resource for military veterans looking for civilian jobs. It has become a go-to source of information and connections with potential candidates used by recruiters, HR professionals, hiring managers—and job candidates.
Here, LinkedIn experts share their advice for how to make the most of your LinkedIn account to attract the attention of those looking for candidates with the types of skills you have to offer.
Grow Your Network
Nathan Atkins III is an investment banker with M&T Bank and a Military Intelligence Officer, Army Resource 2013-present. It’s important to grow your network, Atkins says. To do this, start by synching LinkedIn to your contacts and email address book, he recommends. “Once you sync your contacts, LinkedIn will suggest other relevant people you can connect with outside your network,” he says. “If you are targeting a specific company this could be a great way to get your foot in the door by having an internal recommendation on your behalf.”
Connecting specifically with recruiters is also a good strategy. For instance, if you searched for “security recruiter,” LinkedIn would provide 999,881 results, says Atkins. “You can refine these results by choosing the location or company. Connect with the recruiters and express your interest in your desired role,” he recommends.
Tell Your Story
Endrea Kosven is the founder and CEO of WeWriteBios.com and EDK and Company, a marketing communications agency based in Los Angeles. Kosven says that she has had many veterans come to her with requests to update their profile bios on LinkedIn. When they do, the main thing she recommends, she says, “is to take that opportunity in the profile section to engage with a first-person story, with something a reader wouldn’t get from the resume section.” This doesn’t have to be long, she says—maybe only 200-250 words. It does, though, she says, need to stand out, though. “Starting out with an anecdote that gives some insight into your personality and character is always a great way to engage,” she says.
Understand the Buzz
In addition, says Kosven, take advantage of the “headline” section of your LinkedIn profile to describe yourself in a short sentence. “This can include a skillset or trait that makes the individual unique, and piques the interest of a hiring manager.” Using searchable keywords is critical here—think of the types of words and phrases recruiters and others may use when looking for candidates with your background.
Matthew Warzel is president of resume writing firm MJW Careers, LLC, in Wilmington, North Carolina. He suggests some ways to get insights into the kinds of words and phrases that might best represent your skills—and what recruiters are looking for. For instance, looking at LinkedIn endorsements on profiles of people in the industry or roles that you’re interested in—or job descriptions directly posted by companies you’re interested in. “These buzzwords can be utilized for your LinkedIn profile,” he says.
Another helpful way to identify keywords to incorporate into your own profile is to “search for other veterans who’ve had the same job or title as you and see how they described their past military experience as inspiration,” suggests Teri Pfeffer, military program manager with Code Fellows in Seattle.
Focus on Value
Warzel also recommends focusing not just on achievements and accomplishments—but on value. What can you bring to a new role? For instance, he says, “a teacher trying to transfer into corporate/marketing may be able to discuss training, performance reviews, and documentation handling.” Keep the focus on practical impacts that you could make based on past experiences. Build these into “nice little quick narratives whether shown through a project or success story,” he recommends.
In terms of value, it’s also important to make sure that the content you include is meaningful to the recruiters, HR professionals, and hiring managers who will likely be looking at your profile. That means, cautions Pfeffer, making sure “to explain your military experience as if you were talking to civilians—you know best how your job functioned on a daily basis, but the average civilian won’t understand military vocabulary, titles, or acronyms the same way you do.” Pfeffer recommends thinking about how you might explain what you did to family members who have no military experience.
Take Advantage of Free LinkedIn Services
Finally, LinkedIn offers some special services that veterans can take advantage of, says Carlos Perez, treasurer at the American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association (AAFMAA)—specifically a one-year free premium membership specifically for military veterans. The premium membership provides access to thousands of development courses that can help you pick an industry that suits your experience, Perez notes.
Considering your career options based on your skills? Check out LinkedIn’s Career Explorer Tool
“Once you’re signed up, begin researching and following companies that pique your interest,” says Perez. “If you come across any fellow veterans in your search, feel free to reach out and connect with them, especially if they have mutual connections or similar service experience. Don’t hesitate to ask any questions you may have regarding networking events you’d like to attend, or if you’d like for them to review your page and see if they have any constructive feedback.”
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