Don’t think LinkedIn matters for your job search? Think again. A 2016 Jobvite survey found that 87 percent of recruiters use LinkedIn to source and vet candidates.

Times change. No longer can you make a zillion copies of your resume and cover letter, then walk door to door dropping them off around town. That’s no way to get a job in 2017.

Hiring managers are reviewing LinkedIn and other social media platforms to uncover any information that may disqualify you from joining the team. They are looking at the spelling and grammar of your posts and at the pictures and posts you are tagged in. No one wants an employee who may stay out drinking all night and not show up for work – or worse, someone who may be prone to outbursts in the workplace.

On the job hunt, you are in the business of selling you! You are your brand. LinkedIn, other social media platforms, and your resume are part of your branding and marketing strategy. Use LinkedIn to show employers what you know.

LinkedIn Success Tips for Personal Brand Development

1. Review Your Work History to Ensure Your Profile Matches Your Resume

The job titles, dates of employment, and key accomplishments should all line up. You don’t want hiring managers and recruiters to find discrepancies. This will cause them to think you are either untrustworthy or not attentive to detail.

2. Get Recommendations.

Recommendations cannot be faked. They are written by people in your LinkedIn network. These testimonials show recruiters and hiring managers how great you are and the value you provide.

If you have not asked anyone for a recommendation in a while, get busy. It is okay to let the person know a few specifics you would like them to mention. You will get a chance to review the recommendation before posting it for others to see. If you do not like what it says, you do not have to post it.

3. Network and Build Your Connections

In a U.S. News and World Report story, LinkedIn Sr. Director of Global Talent Acquisition Brendan Browne shared an anecdote that drives this point home:

“[Browne] gives the example of a standout candidate he was considering for a senior-level role. However, the candidate wasn’t connected to many colleagues and industry peers Browne felt he should know. So even though the candidate was well qualified, Browne considered his thin network a red flag.”

4. Watch What You Post

Do not post anything that could make someone question your loyalty, morals, or work ethic. Also, be careful what you share and what posts you are tagged in. Do not post negative comments about coworkers or your current employer. The reader will assume you’ll write similar things about them.

5. Include a Picture and Complete All Sections of Your LinkedIn Profile

When selecting a picture, aim for a professional headshot. Do not use a photo from a wedding where it is evident you tried to crop out your spouse or kids. Do not use vacation photos or pictures that don’t show you in a professional setting. People want to see you. At a minimum, get dressed up in your power suit and stand against a blank wall to have someone take a headshot. Keep your photo current.

Be sure to complete all sections of your profile. You don’t want people to get the idea you don’t finish what you’ve started!

When you are job hunting, you are your own sales team and branding expert. Take the steps necessary to protect your brand and sell yourself. LinkedIn is one of several critical tools in your belt.

Jaynine Howard is a military veteran whose work as a career strategist and reinvention specialist has been recognized by professional organizations throughout the nation.

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