Did you know that your LinkedIn profile is the first thing that pops up on Google if someone is looking you up? Did you also know that 94% of users only click on items found on the first page of their Google search? In other words, if you want to make a transition from academia to industry and don’t have a LinkedIn profile, you don’t exist in the professional world. It’s that simple.
Here are a few tips on how to get started:
STEP 1: Get a nice and professional picture of yourself: You might feel self-conscious and weird about this. Unfortunately, if you are going alt-ac you have no choice. Faceless profiles are considered bots and dismissed from the social media arena. The good news is that you only need one professional picture that you can use on all other social media platforms. So don’t be camera shy. It won’t take too long…
What do we mean by “nice”? High-quality and recent. Avoid selfies and distracting backgrounds and be alone in the picture. Also, smile and look professional (do your hair and makeup). Research has shown that a smile attracts recruiters more than anything else.
What to wear? Again be professional. Wear as well as you do for an interview, you still have to convince recruiters that you are good for the job (REMEMBER). If still indecisive take a look at this article.
STEP 2: Personalize your profile: Now that you have a presentable picture, personalize the background banner of your LinkedIn profile by adding a picture of your choice. It demonstrates that you are active on social media, and shows your personality. Keep away from pictures of books. Go for pictures that refer to something other than your research skills.
STEP 3: Write a compelling bio: Compared to other social media platforms, LinkedIn provides you with the most space (2000 characters) for your bio. Take advantage of it, whether you plan to make a transition from academia to industry or not. Keep in mind that this description not only needs to be compelling, but it must also be readable (keep away from too much jargon). How do you make your bio compelling? By providing an at-a-glance portal into your achievements.
Here a few pointers:
- It should be written with small paragraphs. Avoid long blocks of text. Don’t be afraid of bullet points and lists
- Show, don’t tell. Make sure that you list your achievements loud and clear (books and articles, conferences, degrees, awards and honours, relevant projects, national and international credentials), and most importantly talents, skills, and abilities.
- Stay away from anything negative or whimsical (“disgruntled academic looking for employment”, or “cat lady”.)
- Pay specific attention to the section devoted to “Additional skills”.For further reading check my article on the transferable skills.
STEP 4 : Browse around: Conduct keyword searches, look up people you know or people you would like to become. To prepare for a smooth transition from academia, find inspiration and become acquainted with the appropriate lingo to talk about your skills and strengths.
STEP 5: Start Connecting: Don’t be afraid to reach out to people. Contrary to Facebook, you don’t have to be very close to people to connect with them on LinkedIn. Seasoned LinkedIn users have a broader definition of networking than on any other social media platforms. Connecting does not mean that you want people to be your friend, it means that you have similar professional interests.
Now that you know how to get started, let’s talk about your goal for the next few months. In the upper right corner of your profile, you will find a circle that indicates your profile’s strength. It ranges from “Beginner” to “All-Star”. Your goal is to keep working on your profile and adding information about you as you go along. Impress your friends and reach the “All-Star” status. Who doesn’t want that?