Whether you are actively looking for a job or hunkered down working hard and not interested in a change for now, it pays to have an optimized LinkedIn profile.  LinkedIn has become the number one way that recruiters find candidates.  If you are looking, obviously this will help you to be found.  Even if you aren’t looking, you can chip away at improvements, so that when you are open to a change, you can be found easily, right away.

Here are the key areas:

Connections: Increase these!  As a “LION” (LinkedIn Open Networker), my 1950 1st level connections give me a total personal reach of over 17 million within the 4 degrees of separation principle that LI uses.  People who are more than 4 connection levels away from you, can’t see your name.  To increase your connections, use the “add connections” function on the Contacts tab.  Let LI look at your Outlook address book by exporting your address book in a comma delimited file (easier than it might sound), and importing this into LI.  You probably have hundreds of contacts that are already in LI, but not yet connected to you.  With a few clicks, you can send them all individual invitations, and double or triple your connections overnight.

Content: Upload your resume so that your profile becomes more “keyword-rich”.   There is now a skills and experience section where you can put even more keywords that best describe you.

Links: If you have a website, if you blog, if you are on Twitter, you can cross link all these together within LI.  You can have your blog automatically update your LI profile, each time you put up a new post.

Groups: You are permitted to belong to 50 groups on LI.  Strive to hit 30-40.  Search for groups by key factors that identify you:  Colleges, Professional Societies, your regional area, your profession, your skills, etc.  When you search for groups, they will come up in descending size order, with the largest groups first.  Pick several large groups (at least 1000 members).  Watch the content, and contribute a posting once in a while.  If you don’t like the group, or don’t feel it fits you, leave the group and find others.  Recruiters look for people in groups, and regularly post their job opportunities.

Activity: Do stuff on LI!  Post the business book you’re reading, the trade show trip you took, the article you read, as long as it is professionally relevant. Don’t use LI the same as Facebook – keep your personal stuff personal.  When you meet new people, connect with them right away (before you forget).  This will also show up on your profile as activity.  Start a poll, post your reading list.  Go to the More tab, and look at Get More Applications.

Picture: Unless you look awful or much older than you really are, include a good, professional photo.  It enables people to connect with who you are.

Allow Contact: Don’t block people from connecting or contacting you.

Recommendations: I’m going to go against the grain here, and say I don’t think these matter that much, because everyone understands it is a game, and you will only ask your friends, and you control what is seen.

For more insights, visit the Headhunter's Secret Guide: http://www.bobsearch.com/

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