By Anshika Jain, PhD

We have several skills up our sleeves as researchers; yet, we often struggle to market ourselves when it comes to a job search. Kelly Leonard, CEO of Taylor-Leonard Corporation, conducted a three-hour seminar on December 14, 2018, to educate fellows about the power of LinkedIn and its successful use for career development. As a consultant, she has helped several businesses leverage LinkedIn to advance their professional brands and communicate effectively with their ideal market. 

According to Ms. Leonard, LinkedIn is important—48% of recruiters post jobs on LinkedIn exclusively. She explained that recruiters prefer candidates with a complete profile, as this offers the recruiters an opportunity to learn more about a candidate, beyond what is submitted on a resume. To this end, she recommended a series of steps to update your LinkedIn profile.

Ms. Leonard emphasized the significance of “brand” and said that each section in your profile helps to build your identification and network. It is therefore important to have a strong profile header, a background or summary, and a list of your experiences in chronological order. While the categories of education, organizations, and certifications have their own significance, she stressed that having an exhaustive list of skills (at least 50) and expertise makes it easier for your profile to pop up in a recruiter’s search. Furthermore, recommendations and endorsements add credibility to your profile and reflect your network. She also mentioned that while endorsements have “limited value,” they can be viewed as “soft recommendations.” However, giving and getting recommendations add more value to your profile.

Ms. Leonard spent a significant amount of time on customizing the profile header, as this block makes the first impression. She mentioned that what makes your profile attractive is a professional headshot, a background banner (a graphic that describes your profession to engage the recruiter at one glance), and a short, compelling headline. Include your contact and personal information, along with your personalized LinkedIn URL. It is important to have an effective summary with a value-based headline. This includes a two or three paragraph summary highlighting your accomplishments. In Ms. Leonard’s words, an effective summary communicates how you can save money, make money, create efficiencies, solve problems, and bring the company peace of mind.

Ms. Leonard also emphasized the importance of joining groups and connecting with group owners and members on LinkedIn. She explained that groups are a focused networking tool, a great source of information, an outlet to share your knowledge and expertise, and a source for the next opportunity. A group ownership can provide you a great way to build your community.

Lastly, Ms. Leonard advised us to learn about Boolean search logic for LinkedIn advanced searches (using keywords with the conjunctions AND, NOT, and OR—just like you would in PubMed). By doing so, you can create search alerts to get updates from target industries. With a little maintenance and discipline, you can adopt an operating rhythm to keep your LinkedIn network updated and working for you.

To sum it up, here are the key takeaways from the workshop:

  1. Ensure your profile is 100% complete
  2. Optimize your profile
  3. Create advanced searches—focus on jobs and people
  4. Compile a list of organizations/companies to “follow”
  5. Adopt an operating rhythm
  6. Stay encouraged!