Last week, we discussed the benefits of strong education, in addition to certification and licenses sections on your resume. The next opportunity you will face is translating this information onto a LinkedIn profile. Simply entering resume data into these sections on LinkedIn could result in missed opportunities. Specifically:
- Design your education section for maximum impact,
- Take advantage of the certification and licenses section,
- Add keywords with skills assessments, and
- Use LinkedIn Learning to gain an edge.
Jobseekers’ strategy for the education and certification and licenses sections should differ from resume strategy. We have noted in several posts that LinkedIn is a social media platform that serves as more than an online resume. So, when jobseekers just transfer data from their resume to LinkedIn, they miss chances for engaging with their network and potential employers.
Let’s start with a section that could have the greatest impact on your job search results—education.
Design your education section for maximum impact.
Classic resume strategy for experienced workers is to leave graduation years off the entry. LinkedIn will allow you to use this strategy—year of graduation is not a required field. This strategy has disadvantages on LinkedIn, though.
First, when you include your year of graduation with your education entries, LinkedIn will help you connect with other graduates from your school and year. School connections are among the strongest, even when people in your graduating class that you connect with on LinkedIn do not know you.
Furthermore, recruiters have told me that they may include a range of graduation years in their search for job candidates. You will be excluded from search results when LinkedIn’s recruiting tool finds no graduating years on your profile.
This does not mean you need to disclose on your profile that you finished college 40 years ago. Our recommended work-around is to include the year of graduation for your most recent degree if you have multiple degrees.
Of course, some of us completed our most recent degree a long time ago—1986 in my case. A solution that will work is to place a professional certificate program at an accredited school in LinkedIn’s database within the education section instead of the certification and licenses section. For example, I moved my Certificate in Adult Career Planning and Development credential into the education section with a 2000 completion date. That’s a long time ago, but it’s better than showing my undergraduate completion date—1979—or my grad school completion date—1986. Importantly, LinkedIn offered potential additions to my network based on this school and program completion date.
It will take some thought to decide on the best strategy for you.
Take advantage of the certifications section.
Industry certifications are taking on increasing importance in career development. Employers seem to be recognizing that some talented people are foregoing college in favor of less expensive and shorter industry certification programs. As a result, some employers are stating degrees are “preferred” and asking for certifications instead. So, include your industry credentials in the certification section on LinkedIn.
Certifications are more time-sensitive than degrees, so include completion dates on both the resume and LinkedIn profile. That means you may want to exclude old certifications on the resume and profile. They are probably obsolete anyway. Chances are no one will care about a word processing certification you earned in 1990, although they would want to know about your college degree.
LinkedIn provides space to enter the expiration date of your credentials. You should be keeping relevant certifications current, especially when you are in an industry where certifications are legally mandated, anyway.
You will now be in a great position to demonstrate that you have the academic and industry credentials for a job, in addition to relevant experience. Yet LinkedIn offers even more ways to demonstrate you have “the right stuff” for your next job.
Add keywords with skills assessments.
The function hiring teams use to find job candidates on LinkedIn, known as LinkedIn Recruiter, allows recruiters to request skill assessment results when you apply for their jobs.
There are 96 technical, business, and design software skill assessments available at the present time, according to LinkedIn Help. Take those that are relevant for you in advance so you will be ready if you are asked about assessment results.
Your results will only be displayed when you pass. According to LinkedIn Help, “if you don’t earn a skill badge for a given skill, you can retake the exam once more within six months.”
Use LinkedIn Learning to gain an edge.
Another way you can add valuable skills and relevant keywords to your profile is to take LinkedIn Learning online classes. The site has many short courses, and adds more continually. For example, I added a class on blogging to my own profile last year.
A short online class that requires no assessment or grade does not offer the same level of credibility as a university degree, formal industry credential, or government-issued license. Nonetheless, the skills and keywords that are added by the badge should increase your visibility.
Your LinkedIn strategy can diverge from your resume when you decide about including specific courses. LinkedIn has much more space on the profile to include lists of courses, Increase your visibility to hiring teams with a LinkedIn strategy that takes advantage of the site’s power.