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LinkedIn is many things: The Facebook of business; a job-search website; a soapbox for thought leadership and blog posting; and, according to Business Insider, the world’s largest professional social media platform, with over 347 million users and 3 million active job listings. The source reported that in the tech sector, 46 percent of businesses look for employees via LinkedIn.

It’s clear that LinkedIn plays an important role in the job-hunting process of IT professionals, allowing them to find companies, vet managers and boast about their skills, experience and education. You know this, since you’ve been using this social media site for years. The problem is that you haven’t updated your user account or public-facing aspects of your LinkedIn profile since it’s been created.

So, it’s time to clear the cobwebs and start actively using LinkedIn again. Things have changed, however, and what used to be best practices are now old hat. This means that you need some help.

Here are some tips for developing the ideal LinkedIn profile.

Summarize yourself
On LinkedIn, your summary says everything to hiring managers and potential employers, making this section of your profile the most important. Think about your summary as if it’s the first page of a book – you really want to hook the reader and entice him or her to read more. But what should you write? After all, you’re an IT professional, not a poet.

“Use your summary to describe yourself, your top-prized skills and your career ambitions.”

Simply put, use your LinkedIn profile summary to describe yourself, your top-prized skills and your career ambitions. You don’t need eloquent sentences or verbose descriptions of your talents. Instead, make your summary indicative of your personality, emphasizing points and skills with specific keywords – not lame buzzwords like “innovative,” ComputerWorld explained, but rather tech-focused ones such as agile development or SQL programming.

Picture perfect
Let’s clear this up right away: Take a good profile picture. Don’t use a photo of yourself from an office party last Christmas in which you’re barely looking at the camera. Refawne Acarregui, manager of the Seattle branch office of Robert Half Technology, told ComputerWorld that you should always have a “face-on” profile picture to help make you appear more recognizable.

Additionally, choose a photo that reflects the attire and environment that is well-suited to your personality and profession. There’s no need to break out the three-piece suit, but something nicer than a T-shirt can go a long way toward making you look better than your peers.

In regard to your LinkedIn profile’s headline – an aspect that is almost impossible for hiring managers to miss – customize it and make it as unique as possible. The source explained that instead of something simple and common like “management and IT consultant,” a headline is more attractive when specific, such as “business and IT consultant with a health care focus – and many successful and pleased clients.” That one demonstrates a value, expresses what you care about and highlights your experience.

The DevOps approach
Jez Humble, vice president of Chef, explained the concept of DevOps to The Agile Admin, stating that it’s a practice that extends across many disciplines focusing on a dedication to “building, evolving and operating” scalable systems that rapidly change. What does this have to do with LinkedIn? You should apply the DevOps process to your profile: Continually improving, tweaking and altering your LinkedIn page according to industry climates, tech trends and job postings.

The Internet is the only network for IT professionals, as social ones such as LinkedIn matter just as much.
The Internet and intranet aren’t the only networks that IT professionals must manage, as social ones such as LinkedIn matter just as much.

Frequent updates make your profile appear on LinkedIn homepages that your connections always see, and if one of those colleagues notices that you acquired a new skill or added particular experience, you could land a job. Beyond that, LinkedIn is a social network, which means you need to connect, interact and share.

“This isn’t a place to just share your work experience,” Catherine Fisher, senior director of corporate communications for LinkedIn, told Fast Company. “Publish content, share status updates and give your opinion on the industry in which you work. These things provide more of a flavor of who you are as professional, and that information sets you apart.”

Quick tips
Of course, you can never stop improving your LinkedIn profile, so here are some long-term tips:

  • Customize your URL: This will make you easier to find by people and search engines.
  • Use media: Don’t be afraid to host some pictures of your work in data centers or links to programming side projects.
  • Endorse skills: If you endorse some of your colleagues’ skills, it’s likely that they’ll reciprocate the favor.

LinkedIn plays a critical role in finding a job, and with these tips, you’ll be sure to look good for hiring managers.

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