Using LinkedIn – Steve’s Take, Part 1


Let’s talk LinkedIn.

Of course by “Talk LinkedIn” I should note I want to talk about how to actually use it in a way that’s useful.  There’s a lot of LinkedIn 101 advice out there to the point where the advanced stuff – and the useful stuff – gets kind of lost.  I want to give you ideas about really getting things done and going farther.

And to do that?  We have to ask what LinkedIn IS in the first place.

What LinkedIn Is (What Did You Expect)

I’ve heard people say LinkedIn is a resume, or a community, or Facebook for careerists, or whatever.  Metaphors are important as they give you an idea of how to approach a tool.  So we need a metaphor for what LinkedIn is.

It’s a software suite.

LinkedIn is is a series of career tools that are linked together.  It’s a software suite for your job, providing a variety of tools that work together in a assorted ways – and often sharing the same data.

Now that that metaphor in mind, let’s look at the different things the suite does and how you can put them to use.

LinkedIn Function #1: A Resume Partner

First up, LinkedIn is not a substitute for you resume.  Yes, there’s often the dream it will be, but it’s not there yet and I doubt it ever will be.  Resumes and LinkedIn have different goals:

  • Resumes are personal narratives, that can come in many formats, may be customized for various goals, and provide a chance for personal expression.
  • LinkedIn provides a single, very complete format to put a lot of career data in searchable form, online, in one spot.  It is quite literally a profile and is bounded by the styles and structure of LinkedIn’s design.

LinkedIn is best thought of as a parter to your resume and your resume process.  They can reflect each other and support each other, but they’re not replacements for each other.

Here’s what you can do:

Use LinkedIn as a Guide – LinkedIn’s profile requires you to fill out an enormous amount of questions.  These can give you ideas of what may go in your resume.  As LinkedIn adds more categories, you may get more ideas of what should or shouldn’t go in your resume.

Personal Story: Many times when people were recommending me they’d also mention skills I never thought of including on my resume.  I also never thought of listing my work in museums until LinkedIn asked me about my non-job work – and that comes up in interviews.

Use It As A Warehouse – Not everything relevant to your career is going to go on your resume.  However LinkedIN has room for everything, from languages to your complete employment history.  Take advantage of that – both to keep records, but also as you have a place to show things off that aren’t on your resume.

Personal Story: When you’ve been a career as long as I have you don’t list everything on your resume.  Between LinkedIn and my own records I can pretty much show anyone where I worked for nearly 20 years.  It also gives a far more detailed history than I could include in a regular resume.

Fill It Out.  Fill It All Out – LinkedIn Will encourage you to fill out your profile completely and that’s important because they not only have space for everything.  You never know what people will find important, but the folks at LinkedIn have given it some thought.

Personal Story: I’d never considered putting my publications on my resume until I saw entries at LinkedIn and realized even tangentially related works are important to your career.

Use LinkedIn To Build A Resume – Now again I don’t think one is the replacement for another.  But there’s actually a tool to turn your profile into a resume, ad that may be a good place to start in making your own.

Save Time In The Job Search Process – More and more job search websites let you upload your LinkedIN profile instead of just a resume.  Because the LinkedIn profiles are easier to get data from, it’s a more effective, less error-prone – and thus less time-consuming process.  Get the profile right so you can take advantage of this.

LinkedIn’s Profiles work in tandem with your resume and your career image to make both better.

LinkedIn Function #2: An Outpost on the Web

Everyone needs a place to hang their metaphorical hat on the web.  Many people get personal websites – but that’s not for everyone.  Not everyone has the time or inclination to run one – or need one.

When it comes to having a single place people can go to get the “career you,” LinkedIn has you covered.

A Custom URL: If you want, LinkedIn can provide you a custom URL that people can use to easily access your profile.  For some people just having that on your resume and business cards may be all you need – or it’s a great thing to have while you struggle with HTML.  Just edit your profile and  you can edit the URL!

A Substitute Landing Page: But maybe you don’t want to use your LinkedIn URL as your “main” page – but you also haven’t build one.  SImply you can buy a domain than redirect it to your linkedin profile.  YOu’ve just made your profile your home page  Besides you can always redirect the URL later.

A Portfolio: Portfolios matter to many people, not just visual artists.  Documents, presentations, writing samples, graphs, and more may be useful to show off your skills.  LinkedIn actually provides you various Portfolio tools you can use to fill it out –

A Routing Station: Your LinkedIn profile is a place where you can link to other blogs websites, and projects.  FIll this in because that way people can easily find them and evaluate what you do.  In fact . . .

Personal Story: I put all my sites on my LinkedIn profile to show the breadth of what I do.  It might also result in some book sales if I’m lucky.

A Place To Link Back To: Make sure your other websites, projects, and portfolios point back to LinkedIn.  This forms a set of relations among your online presences so people can keep finding out more about you.

Personal Story: I actually put my LinkedIn profile in as many social media profiles as possible because it’s such a useful and popular site.

A Social Media Aggregator: You can have your blog entries and social media appear in you LinkedIn feed.  Now you’ll want to be careful with that, but as long as you’re conscious of it, then you make it easier for people visiting LinkedIn to see you and know you.

Until Next Time

So that’s my roundup of tips for now!  Tune in Next week as we explore some more.


– Steven Savage