Who Are You Online?
BY LISA M. BALBES
Did you know that 90% of all recruiters go online first when searching for new candidates? Unless you’ve made an effort to develop a professional online pres- ence, you are virtually invisible to these recruiters. It’s important for your career to make sure your
online persona includes your professional side, in a way that makes
it easy for a potential employer to find you. One of the best ways to
do that is to use LinkedIn.com.
What is LinkedIn?
LinkedIn is a business-related social network for professionals—
think of it as Facebook for your colleagues, not your confidants.
It is the first place most recruiters and hiring managers go to
when they are looking to hire someone. If you are looking for
a job, or plan to ever look for a job, you need to be there. Your
LinkedIn profile is very likely to be your future employer’s first
impression of you.
Creating your profile
Start now by creating a LinkedIn profile and filling it in as completely as possible. Keep your profile updated as you gain experience through research opportunities, club and other volunteer
efforts, leadership positions, and employment experience.
If you have a good résumé, you can start by copying and pasting
sections from that into LinkedIn. Employers search LinkedIn profiles for keyword nouns (chemist, manager) and verbs (analyzed,
managed), so make sure to include both in your profile. To get
ideas for keywords to include, search the job boards until you find
10 or 15 positions that are right for you. Then, look at the keywords
used repeatedly in those ads, and work them into your own profile.
Next, make sure you have a good photo that conveys and
enhances your image as a professional. Use a professional quality
headshot with a simple background and good resolution.
The “Summary” section of your profile should sum up in
one to two paragraphs your experience and the value you offer
to a potential employer. It should describe your skills and areas
LinkedIn makes it easy for others to say things about you —
using recommendations. Recommendations are like reference
letters, but they are posted on your LinkedIn profile and are associated with a particular job. You should have a few references to give
you credibility, but not so many that it becomes overkill ( 5–8 is a
reasonable number). Ask colleagues to write a recommendation
for you while you’re still in a position, while they best remember
your accomplishments. You can’t edit what they write, but you do
determine whether or not to publish it on your profile.
Finally, add a headline — the 120 characters that describe you.
The headline is attached to your name whenever you send a connection request, post in a discussion group, or show up in a recruiter’s search results. Don’t use your current job title, and especially
don’t use “Seeking position.” Take some time to craft a succinct
statement of who you are professionally, and how others should
think of you.
Building your network
Once you have a good profile, the next step is to send connection
invitations to your professional colleagues. You could send the
standard invitation, but it’s better to spend a few minutes personalizing it for each contact . Start by asking a few close colleagues to
connect, and ask them to provide feedback on your profile. Once
they have helped you polish your profile, widen your circle and
start asking more professional colleagues to connect.
The true power of LinkedIn is that it allows you to mine
your network for information by searching not only your direct
connections (1st degree) but also all of their connections (2nd
degree). Once you have about 150 connections, you can reach
someone at almost any company. This comes in especially handy
when researching potential employers. You can contact current
or former employees who can provide significant insights about
Use the “People You May Know” tools to expand your network. By importing your e-mail address book, you can invite those
already on LinkedIn to join your network. The “Contacts > Add Connections” tab and the “Colleagues” and “Classmates” tabs let you
search for people who were at schools and companies at the same
time as you and send connection requests to those you know.
The “People You May Know” tab suggests contacts based on
your history, and looking through this on a regular basis will provide new connection opportunities.
When deciding to add connections, you can be as inclusive or
exclusive as you wish. The strategic way to build your network is
to try to connect to everyone that you know. Between current and
former classmates, colleagues, fellow volunteers, friends, etc., you
have a much bigger network than you realize. If you make a conscious effort to meet new scientists and add them to your network
(both online and off) you will be amazed at how fast it will grow.
Seek quality connections. LIONs (LinkedIn Open Networkers)
will accept connection requests from anyone who asks. They usually put “LION” in their profile, or put their e-mail address and
“invites welcome” in their summary. While you can add a large
number of connections quickly, they are not quality connections.
Also, if you try to send out more than 50 invitations per day, or if
inChemistry • www.acs.org/undergrad