Dec. 20, 2010 -- It's time for job hunters to sharpen resumes and online profiles as we enter a new year. With the majority of Fortune 100 companies using LinkedIn's recruiting solutions to identify new talent, the social networking site for professionals is the perfect place to start your efforts.
First step, be original and thorough. LinkedIn compiled the 10 most overused words found in profiles. Review the list to see which ones are in your resume and profile: innovative, motivated, results-oriented, dynamic, proven track record, team player, fast-paced, problem solver, entrepreneurial.
While there's nothing particularly wrong with these words, your goal is to stand out, not fit it, which means you want to use words that are unique to you and your abilities.
For example, instead of saying "extensive experience," which could mean anything, be specific. "Four years experience" would be a better option.
Another generic phrase: "results-oriented." That's never a winner because every employee is expected to deliver results. Instead, share the specific results you've achieved: "secured 10 contracts" or "increased student test scores by 10 percent."
Next, make meaningful connections. With 85 million members worldwide, LinkedIn is a great place to make connections. But beyond that, if you're not making connections, you're not going to maximize the benefits of the site.
You need a minimum of 50 contacts to realize the multiplying power of your network. While you may not have a direct connection to open a door, your contacts -- and their contacts -- may know the people you want to meet. (Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.)
LinkedIn Job Profiles
Solicit recommendations. A recommendation on LinkedIn is similar to a public referral. Take a few things into consideration about referrals: the clout of the person writing them and their relationship to you, plus the specificity of the recommendation.
For example, "Jane is a great colleague and everyone enjoys working with her." Perfectly polite, but very boring. I prefer reading and writing recommendations that go a step further and explain why she's a great colleague -- what makes her so fabulous?
An improved version might read, "Jane is a great colleague because she handles all of our most challenging customer service issues with ease. She is credited with reducing hold times by 20 percent and she has the largest number of repeat clients in our group. "
This is a much better recommendation because it provides insight on Jane's abilities and accomplishments.
Ask colleagues, bosses, clients and vendors -- people you work or have worked with -- to write a recommendation for you. If it's someone you'd love a recommendation from, but you've lost touch, find them on LinkedIn, write a recommendation about their work, and they may just reciprocate. If not, ask them to.
Take time to fill in all of the options. If you use Facebook and Twitter professionally, add those links. If you have a website, include a link. You can even go a step further to include links to your favorite books, especially those that may be impressive in your field of interest. All of this takes time and thought, which is well worth the effort to present your professional best.
Be thorough about your experience. LinkedIn says user profiles are 12 times more likely to be viewed by recruiters for potential opportunities if you have more than one position listed. While it's much faster to list only one job -- your current or most recent position -- by investing the time and effort to fully develop your profile with your previous roles, it will pay off.
Finally, get involved. LinkedIn is most effective when you're actively engaged in the network. Join GROUPS connected to your interests, your places (or former places) of employment, and desired industry. (I have my own group with 23,000 members that you're welcome to join.)
Use ANSWERS, which is a feature that allows anyone to ask and/or answer questions in a slew of categories. This is a smart place to showcase your expertise. One great answer won't win you a job offer, but a pattern of expertise will most definitely catch attention.
Follow COMPANIES that you're targeting to work for. You'll be able to easily see when someone joins a company, leaves the company, or moves into a new role, as well as receive headlines on company news.
As with all online social networks, the more active you are and the more people you engage with, the more success you'll have. Just signing up -- and then abandoning your profile -- isn't likely to do much for your career. Get involved to make good things happen.