Admittedly, my personal LinkedIn profile could be improved upon. Sure, my profile looks professional which it the most important LinkedIn consideration, but its contents are a bit sparce. Like myself, nurse practitioners who aren’t considering a job change can get away with a just the basics approach on LinkedIn. If you’re facing a career transition, however, amping up your social media profile can have a serious impact.
Employers are increasingly using LinkedIn in evaluating job applicants. The impression your profile creates may land you in a new practice or send you scrambling to submit applications elsewhere. What do nurse practitioners need to consider on LinkedIn?
1. Get a Profile. Now.
If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, you are missing out on an easy opportunity to give yourself an edge in your job search. Simply having a basic, polished profile implies that you take your professional life seriously. A smiling face in your photo allows employers to associate your resume with a friendly face, bringing your application to life.
2. Choose the Perfect Photo.
Creating your LinkedIn profile is not the time to flaunt that bikini selfie you took on vacation last summer (I know, you totally look skinny, but save it for Facebook). Nor is it the occasion to crop a busy photo featuring your smiling mug with a distracting background. Use a clear, simple, and professional looking image for your photo. You don’t need to be wearing a business suit, semi-casual is OK. Smile in your photo so you appear friendly and approachable. No one wants to work with someone who takes themselves too seriously. Make sure an initial look at your pic will make an employer want to say “you’re hired!”.
3. Make Your Professional Headline Count.
Your professional headline is an opportunity to give a clear indication as to your professional credentials and interests. Rather than simply stating “Nurse Practitioner” in your headline, consider something a bit more creative like “Job-Seeking Family Nurse Practitioner” or “Community Health Family Nurse Practitioner”. This way employers viewing your profile have a better idea as to your career path up front.
4. Sneak Keywords Into Your Summary
If you already know to which jobs you want to apply, sneak a few keywords from job postings into the summary section of your profile. Words like ‘experienced’, ‘motivated’, and industry specific terms will catch the eye of prospective employers. Consider adding a “Key Skills and Core Competencies” heading in your summary section and listing clinical skills you have mastered that might make you a more attractive applicant. Your professional summary is a chance to one-up your resume with added information. Don’t be afraid to brag.
5. Proofread Your Profile, Then Proofread Again.
A poorly written LinkedIn profile can spell doom for your job search. Take the creation of your LinkedIn profile as seriously as you would drafting your resume. Read through your profile for spelling and grammatical errors. Then, repeat. You don’t want a sloppy profile to spoil your job search.
6. Include a Current Position, Even if Unemployed.
Unemployment or a gap in employment can be a major red flag to an employer. LinkedIn gives you a chance to explain your lack of work away. Listing your current position as “Nurse Practitioner Student Graduating May 2016” or “Mother of Two Returning to Practice” gives employers an idea of what you’re up to addressing potential reservations.
7. Fill Out Your Profile – But Not Too Much.
A robust LinkedIn profile shows you have taken the time and attention to get the word out about your professional skill set. List your volunteer experiences, education, and other resume-worthy awards and accomplishments. Avoid, however, writing too much on your profile. An overly verbose profile is unlikely to be read in its entirety. A profile listing insignificant employment, accomplishments, or awards detracts from those that are truly noteworthy or relevant.
Once you’ve completed your profile, work quickly to secure at least 50 connections. Connect with former and current colleagues, fellow nurse practitioner or nursing students, and friends. You don’t want a prospective employer to think you’re a total loner.
9. Be Diplomatic.
If you’re promoting a career as a nurse practitioner, LinkedIn is not the place to express political opinions or controversial views. Leave that to the lobbyists. Content you post or promote on LinkedIn should be consistent with your profession. Commenting on health, medical, wellness, and even health policy issues can be an asset to your profile. Be diplomatic if you share opinions on these issues.
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