The simple ways to master your LinkedIn account

With LinkedIn at your fingertips, improving your profile and upping your usage makes sense
Be cut-throat with previous jobs, but think before rejecting people

IT’S SEPTEMBER – the back-to-school month when hiring and switching jobs always cranks up. And in London, hiring is now rising at its fastest pace since before the financial crisis. According to a new study from recruiter Manpower, staff are being taken on across all levels – from senior City executives to apprentices and trainees.

And if you’re looking to take the plunge, using LinkedIn is now just about a necessity. Last year, a Bullhorn poll found that over 98 per cent of staffing professionals used it as a recruiting tool – up from 94 per cent in 2011. So what could you be doing to improve your profile and maximise opportunities?

When it comes to creating an employment timeline, LinkedIn is ideal. But is it the best way to sell yourself to prospective employers? Writing for, business expert Jeff Haden says that, given the number of times people are now changing jobs (the average worker stays in their job 4.4 years), a comprehensive chronology isn’t the best way to impart your expertise: “experience is only relevant when it relates to your current goals.” Keep previous jobs in your work history, but just the title, firm and a short list of duties, he recommends. This process will also help you prioritise keywords. You should have the most important one in your headline, and then look to layer them throughout your profile. Don’t worry about repetition, says Haden – a keyword is more useful than a flowery description.

The flip side to stripping out the superfluous is ensuring that your personality doesn’t get lost. Haden suggests going back through your profile after you’ve decluttered and add in, first, why you love what you currently do and, second, what you hope to accomplish. Tell people what they need to know, then tell them why they’d want to work with you, he says. Similarly, communications expert and Forbes contributor Cheryl Conner says you should include a call to action in your profile – don’t assume others will know how to find out more about you, she says. Include a link to your business or personal website.

Conner also advocates being regularly active on LinkedIn by capitalising on what the site has on offer. LinkedIn now has over 2m groups – joining just 10 means the potential to connect with hundreds of people beyond your network. And if you haven’t used it before, it could be worth taking a look at the site’s Advanced People Searches. You’ll be able to find former employers of colleagues, and discover who appoints candidates with the same background as you. A “look backwards” search will reveal others’ career paths. Conner recommends saving your best searches. LinkedIn sends a periodic email with a list of people who match your criteria – why not keep a note of these?

It’s also worth remembering that LinkedIn should not be treated like other social sites. It’s perfectly acceptable to connect with people you don’t know or haven’t even heard of, says HubSpot’s Diana Urban. LinkedIn automatically sorts your connections based on how you know them anyway, so your network is never going to be too big to manage.

Information at your fingertips

It’s not cheap, but it’s clever. This database management app allows you to search, track and store information relevant to you or your business. Its aim is to improve your productivity, and it covers a huge range – from client lists, inventories, and billing records. The programme can also be put on your desktop, meaning you can sync across any device you’re using. Creating a database is simple, with a large selection of pre-created fields available.

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