by Madison Linnihan
Most military members don’t have a LinkedIn account because they think there’s no need to have one in the military. However, as a member of the reserve component, you likely have a civilian job, too — and if you’re looking for a new job in the civilian world, LinkedIn is the first place to start.
With the rise of social media, it’s only natural that there would be a social media platform for professionals. While Facebook is a place to interact with your social connections, LinkedIn is strictly professional. For example, Facebook is basically a social media free-for-all, where you can upload every single one of your photos from your cruise to the Bahamas, but you need to show a little more restraint on LinkedIn. While your Facebook profile may serve as your digital scrapbook, think of your LinkedIn profile as your constant, digital resume. However, there is definitely one major similarity between Facebook and LinkedIn, and that’s that both platforms provide opportunities to strengthen your relationships with others.
Your LinkedIn Profile
Having a great LinkedIn profile is the best way to brag about yourself to future employers while staying relatively modest. In your profile, there is a place for you to enter all your past experience, education, volunteer experience, skills, accomplishments, and publications. No one knows you better than you do, so be sure to let everyone know how awesome you are. It’s up to you to tell everyone why you’d be a fantastic asset to their company. Just having a LinkedIn profile opens so many doors for future employment opportunities.
Dos and Don’ts of Creating Your LinkedIn Profile
Remember that your LinkedIn profile is not the same hodgepodge of photos, statuses, videos, quiz results, and BuzzFeed articles that your Facebook page may be — just as you wouldn’t post your professional resume on Facebook. While you are subconsciously aware of the dos and don’ts of Facebook, there are also obviously a few fundamental dos and don’ts of LinkedIn.
Your headline and name are the first things that potential employers will see when they look at your LinkedIn profile. Make sure that your name includes your first and last name. It should also match whatever you put on your resume. Under your name, comes your headline, which is the most important part of your profile. You should include your current position, as well as your company or school, industry, and your location. Don’t include a catchy tagline about how you can eat more tacos than anyone else you know. Keep it professional and classy.
When it comes to your background, get creative. Brandon Fong, author of Leverage, a book designed to help young professionals adjust to the “real world,” explains in his article, “Your Mental Doppelgangers:” “While you are unique, there are many people that are similar. The key is to distinguish yourself from those that are similar so you stand alone, on top of the pile.” Fong explained to me that failing to differentiate oneself is one of the biggest don’ts of LinkedIn. Be sure to tell everyone how special and unique you are.
Advice from a Recruiter
James Reyes is a Military & Defense Recruiter at Aerotek and a Veteran Advocate in Charleston, S.C., who has worked with retired military members on LinkedIn. Aerotek is a company that specializes in shipbuilding and maintenance contracts in both the government and private sector. He explains that just creating a LinkedIn profile gives anyone looking for a job a leg up.
Reyes advises veterans searching for a job to join groups on LinkedIn and post on the walls. He adds that he often messages veterans who post that they are searching for a job on a group wall or comments on their post. He says this is one of the biggest advantages of LinkedIn.
Furthermore, he says that when people add him on LinkedIn and send him a message, he immediately knows that they’re a go-getter and want to work with him. “I want to work with people who want it,” Reyes reflects. In fact, Reyes discloses that he is always searching for people with military backgrounds. “I love working with veterans. They’re the ones I want to help the most. They’ve done so much for our country already. They’re the hardest workers out there,” he explains.
While LinkedIn isn’t necessary within the military, it’s crucial for anyone thinking about retirement and possibly pursuing another career. Creating a LinkedIn profile is the first step to finding a new career path when you’re finished serving. There are tons of recruiters out there waiting to work with veterans, and all you have to do is reach out and get started. LinkedIn provides you with all kinds of career opportunities just waiting to be explored