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LinkedIn is the world’s largest online professional network, with over 300 million users worldwide. Most importantly – it’s is more than a traditional resume! LinkedIn allows you to market your accomplishments online while strengthening your professional network.

Recruiters use LinkedIn increasingly to connect with candidates. Whereas your resume highlights your career at a glance, LinkedIn paints a vivid portrait of you, no matter what your background. Since many industry leaders are active contributors to LinkedIn’s community – LinkedIn also gives you the chance to create a personal brand, be accessible to potential employers, and gain insights on industry trends.

A strong LinkedIn profile is a powerful tool to have, but is your profile doing everything you need it to do?

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LinkedIn provides a blank slate to showcase your talents. However! There are 3 important points you want to keep in mind when setting up your profile. Your goals with LinkedIn are to:

  • Show up in a search with the right keywords
  • Stand out in search results
  • Signal that you are qualified and motivated

To achieve these goals keep in mind the 3-30-180 Rule. This refers to the time a recruiter spends with your LinkedIn profile (hint hint its not very long!). Recruiters take 3 seconds to decide whether to stay on your profile, 30 seconds for the first read, and 180 seconds to decide on whether to contact you. Clearly, with such a short window of time, you want to be strategic! Below, we’ll outline how to hit the three aforementioned goals with this golden rule in mind.

 

Goal 1: Show Up in Search Results

Ensuring that your LinkedIn profile shows up in search results is all about harnessing the power of keywords. Recruiters use certain buzzwords to find candidates, so include these in your profile. This will help ensure you and your special talents are aggregated into LinkedIn’s search function.

A great place to plant keywords is in the “summary” section on your profile. This should be in paragraph form – 3 paragraphs or less. The summary tells the story of who you are – so use this blank space as a chance to highlight your resume and provide insight into your aspirations.

Ben_Halperin_Summary Summary via Ben Halperin

The “Skills,” “Experience,” and “Recommendations”  sections also offer opportunities to strategically use keywords. Describe your mastery of languages and programs in detail here. We recommend being direct and avoiding redundancy.

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Skills via Miriam Kalk

 

Goal 2: Stand Out in Search Results

Your second goal in creating your LinkedIn profile to stand out and shine bright! Do this by creating your own “Headline” – which appears in search results beneath your name and photo. With one simple title, you harness the power to craft your personal brand.

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Headlines via Francois Dufour and Miriam Kalk

 

Goal 3: Signal that You are Qualified and Motivated

Now that you’ve made your profile searchable and attention grabbing, focus on showcasing why you are a qualified candidate. Highlight your education, your work experience, courses, and projects that you have completed. Be sure to include Udacity work, independent work, and BEYOND!

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Courses via Kevin Mayo

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Education via Ben Halperin

Additionally, join “Groups” and follow “Companies” that peak your interests on LinkedIn. Recruiters love to see your dedication to the in the field , plus you’ll love the chance to network and learn cool tips.

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Groups via Kevin Mayo

 

LinkedIn as a Tool for Networking and Personal Branding:

Beyond the 3 goals above, LinkedIn can and should be used as a strategic tool to cultivate your network and build your brand.

To boost your professional network – think about who you want to connect with and who you already know. The more quality 1st degree connections you have, the better your chances of making  2nd degree connections.  So have fun and remember personalization, context, and quality go a long way.

When it comes to creating your personal brand, be authentic! If your career evolves, so should your LinkedIn. Think about what you want to be known for, what your strengths are, and how you are unique. Your profile should embody more than just the work you have done, but also, the multifaceted portrait of your professional ambitions, passions, and unique talents.

 

Common Concerns for Students with LinkedIn:

Common concerns that we’ve heard from Udacity students often relate to LinkedIn and range from how to showcase a Udacity Nanodegree, to how to navigate a career change, and how to make up for a lack of formal work experience.

Luckily for all of these concerns – LinkedIn has a special advantage that allows you design the layout and order of your profile. Because you are all unique candidates, we recommend that you design your profile to reflect your best attributes! Create a layout that highlights your strengths and be clear about your goals.

Quick tips include:

  • Career change: focus on your summary, current abilities & projects. Follow this information with your work and education history.
  • Show your Udacity experience: Add the online courses you’ve completed in the “Certification” section.
  • Highlight your Nanodegree: If you are completing a Nanodegree, include this under “Education”.
  • Showcase your work: Put projects you’ve completed in the “Projects” section and include links to rich media in your summary.

 

If this information proved helpful, take a look at our LinkedIn webinar! The webinar will introduce you to LinkedIn, examine why it is essential, and demonstrate how to utilize it to gain a competitive advantage in your career. Hosted by Udacity’s  VP of Marketing Francois Dufour (formerly of LinkedIn, so he knows a tip or two) and Jason Wong, Udacity’s Head of Technical Recruiting, this webinar will provide you insights on how LinkedIn is a tool for personal branding and networking. In addition to  providing a breakdown of the key components of LinkedIn how-to, we cover best practices and answer questions from current Nanodegree students that may be relevant to you.