If you’re currently searching for a job, Linkedin offers a free and easy way to create a presence for yourself online. While some people think of the site as simply another place to post their resumes, it offers many other career promotion tools as well. For example:
Start a reading list
LinkedIn is not a great place to advertise the trashy romance novel you read by the pool, but it does allow you to show professional colleagues where some of your intellectual interests lie. Personal hobbies like rebuilding motorcycles or visiting Civil War reenactments make for awkward resume material, but mentioning that you’ve read books on the subject will cause you to appear interesting to an employer.
Groups are a great way to network in a somewhat casual way. Your university alumni groups are an easy place to start. It might feel awkward to e-mail a stranger who happened to go to the same school you did, however, there’s nothing unusual about saying, “I saw through the ABC University group on LinkedIn that you work in insurance. Do you have any tips that would help me break into the industry?” Displaying your membership in various groups is also a subtle way to let employers know how you’re connected and where your interests lie.
Post status updates
Much like facebook, LinkedIn allows you to post status updates. These updates can let other people know about a big project you’re currently working on or a conference you’re attending, or they can include a link to an article you found particularly interesting or salient to your field. Just be careful to not bore your connections with irrelevant personal information or touchy political editorials.
Keep your profile current
If you don’t do anything else to your LinkedIn profile, be sure you keep it updated with your current job title and duties at all times. It’s confusing for an employer to look you up and see information that’s different from what you’ve presented on your resume. As an HR manager once told me, “It’s important to care for your LinkedIn profile the same way you would a plant in your office—make sure you check on it at least once a week!”