Creating a Veteran LinkedIn
Network, connections, recruiters, endorsements, recommendations — these are the familiar terms for the world’s largest professional social networking site known as LinkedIn. Networking is the primary buzzword you’ll come across as a military veteran in the civilian world.
Networking is the reason why LinkedIn exists. While the term networking may come with reservations for some veterans and transitioning military members, networking becomes easier once you define the purpose of networking, discover various ways to network, and clearly understand how networking can benefit you.
One of the best ways to network is to create a veteran LinkedIn, with tips and strategies from Empire Resume, and use the professional networking site as leverage to enhance your career path.
LinkedIn is a Veteran’s Point Man and Wingman
As a veteran job finder, think of your LinkedIn profile as the point man walking several steps ahead of you on the lookout. LinkedIn’s sole purpose is to be the first to come into contact with companies, recruiters, and hiring authorities. Additionally, LinkedIn is your wingman in supporting your career efforts. LinkedIn acts as your representative to introduce you to potential employers and offer a virtual handshake.
Many veterans ask themselves, “Do I really need to be on LinkedIn?” At Empire Resume, our military to civilian resume writing services helps thousands of veterans get the job they deserve. We strongly encourage each veteran to put their name in front of hiring companies through a veteran LinkedIn profile.
You and every other veteran need a LinkedIn profile because the site works to introduce you 24 hours, 7 days a week. And, guess what? LinkedIn even works while you’re sleeping. If the fact that this networking tool works around the clock isn’t enough to convince you to create your veteran LinkedIn, check out these statistics we’ve complied from LinkedIn:
- More than 30 million companies are represented on LinkedIn
- More than 20 million open jobs on LinkedIn
- Social professional networks are the number #1 source of quality hires
- Top recruiters are 60% more engaged with LinkedIn
Now, are you ready to create your veteran LinkedIn profile? Your veteran LinkedIn is an extension of your military to civilian resume and is the most efficient way to network with key people and apply for jobs. Keep in mind that in the civilian world it’s not always about what you know, but rather who you know.
How to Write a LinkedIn Profile
LinkedIn allows you to create your profile in six sections – introduction, about, background, skills, accomplishments, and additional information. Below we break down each section to show you how to write a great LinkedIn profile:
Like Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook, LinkedIn allows you to display a header above your profile picture. The header is an image such as an office desktop or any other image that reflects the type of work you do. The header attracts recruiters and hiring companies by displaying what you do. LinkedIn recommends the header be 1,584 x 396 px.
Your profile photo is the first aspect of LinkedIn people will notice. Make sure your profile photo represents your personal brand – who you are. Your profile photo should be current and professional. We’re not saying spend hundreds of dollars for a photographer, but your profile must evoke a sense of professionalism. If your photo is not a representation of how you would present yourself in an interview, it should not be used for your LinkedIn profile. Stay away from the selfies, vacation photos, and even photos of you in military uniform.
Many veterans forgo the ability to use a profile picture due to the confidentiality and secretiveness of military operations. Just remember that veteran LinkedIn profiles containing photos are 14x more likely to be found.
Your LinkedIn headline is key. When a recruiter comes across your name on LinkedIn or even while performing a Google search, the next feature of the profile they will see is your headline.
The headline works like your resume title, although you’re under no obligation to use your professional job title. For example, instead of writing Insurance Agent, for keyword purposes try writing Insurance Sales Representative Offering Life, Health, and Auto Insurance. Using keywords and phrases increase the chance of your LinkedIn profile being found in a recruiter’s search for candidates.
The about section of LinkedIn is where you shine. This section allows you to speak to recruiters and hiring companies. Here, you will provide a summary of your skills, accomplishments, success stories, and value you will bring to a company.
Your summary should reflect your experience within a 2,000-character limit. Your LinkedIn summary is very likely to be read so you want to capture the attention of the hiring authorities. Your summary is the first impression, besides your profile photo, that many recruiters will see.
Take the time to perfect your summary, as this is where you sell yourself to recruiters. This is the space for you to also be intentional about the career opportunities you’re looking for. Having a hasty summary or not having one at all could be detrimental to your job search. The quality of your summary is important. Make the summary easy to read and functional on mobile phones with short paragraphs and bullet points, if necessary.
I recommend you write your LinkedIn summary in first-person, where you refer to yourself as “I.” Using first person, singular form makes your summary more personal. LinkedIn also allows you to include any media to your summary such as a link to a website, an article you wrote, a video you produced, etc.
Entering your career experience will be a simple task if you have a military to civilian resume. You can simply plug in the information from your military to civilian resume to establish consistency between your military to civilian resume and your LinkedIn experience.
Maintaining consistency keeps from confusing recruiters, hiring managers and other people who want to work with you. According to an article in Fast Company, recruiters look at LinkedIn profiles to confirm information. Discrepancies such as different dates or job titles are red flags for potential employers.
You should include quantifiable achievements and showcase why you are a great candidate. An easy way to do this is to include a separate section under your primary job functions that specifies your achievements with measurable results. As with your resume, you only need to go back 10-15 years. Any experience beyond 10-15 years ages you as a candidate.
Listing your educational background is an important element of a veteran LinkedIn. Doing so provides the opportunity to connect with other alumni, potentially military veteran alumni, that may be working in industries you’re interested in. Be sure to leave off graduation dates if your degree was obtained more than 15 years ago to prevent age discrimination.
Licenses & Certifications
If you have licenses or certifications, include them here. You can showcase your expertise with a credential such as CNA certified nursing assistant or PE for professional engineer.
Here is where you will write any volunteer work you’ve done whether in the past or whether you’re currently volunteering for an organization. The volunteer experience space allows you to include information that you may have left out of your military to civilian resume.
For instance, if you volunteered with the USO, you should list this experience because it shows a recruiter your character and provides insight on the causes that you care about.
The skills you list on LinkedIn are a way for recruiters to locate you using keywords.
LinkedIn allows you to add different skills to your profile to help you become more discoverable. For example, if a recruiter is looking for someone proficient in spreadsheets and Microsoft Excel and Excel is one of your skills, LinkedIn will reveal your profile to the recruiter.
A simple way to add skills is to use the ones included on your military to civilian resume. Then, list the skills that are necessary for the jobs you’re considering, especially if you acquired the skill. Always be truthful with the skills you list.
The accomplishments section contains a list of activities such as publications you have, courses you’ve taken to show continuing education, or projects you’re working on. Other areas of accomplishments include test scores, languages, honors and awards, and patents.
This section shows a recruiter you’re actively engaged in personal development and always striving for better. The accomplishment section also expresses that you’re a well-rounded person with other achievements outside of your chosen career field.
You should only complete the information that pertains to you to keep your profile honest and truthful.
Additional Information Section:
The additional information section is where you can request recommendations or endorsements from your connections.
Endorsements enhance your credibility and show that other people agree with your expertise. An endorsement is equivalent to a vote of confidence from other people. The right endorsement goes far in establishing your professional brand.
A recommendation provides specific details about your value. When a connection writes a recommendation about your skills, recruiters and any other hiring authority will see it on your LinkedIn profile. A recommendation is similar to a letter of recommendation that boosts your credibility. Recommendations are considered high-quality trust signals by recruiters.
Seek to receive and give recommendations and endorsements to others. The best way to receive these votes of confidence from your connections is to network and not be afraid to ask for them. Want to learn more about using LinkedIn for networking?
Customize Your URL
Now that you’ve completed all areas of your veteran LinkedIn profile, the final step is editing the URL. LinkedIn provides a public URL once your profile setup is complete. Over on the right side of the screen, if you’re using a computer, is an option to edit public profile and URL. Once you click the option, you can customize your URL.
For example, LinkedIn may assign your URL as “linkedin.com/pub/phillip-gold8987/522785.” You have the choice to change your URL to something that’s easy to remember, such as your name. For instance, “linkedin.com/in/phillipgold.” You should always include your LinkedIn URL as part of your contact information on your resume to make it easy for recruiters to view your profile.
Veteran LinkedIn Do’s and Don’ts
GI Jobs addresses some mistakes that veterans make on LinkedIn such as establishing an account and not using it. Don’t let this be you. Just in case you scrolled to the bottom of this article, we’ll leave you with a few do’s and don’ts for your veteran LinkedIn profile:
- Do keep your profile updated
- Don’t randomly connect with people just to boost your number of connections
- Do include measurable results in your summary
- Don’t include other people in your profile photo
- Do give endorsements and recommendations to others
- Don’t use LinkedIn in the same manner as Facebook
- Do practice LinkedIn etiquette
- Don’t lie on your LinkedIn profile
- Do stay active by contributing articles and joining discussions
- Don’t write a long, drawn out summary
- Do use short blocks of text in your summary
- Don’t be afraid to expand on your job title in the headline
Once you establish your profile on LinkedIn, the tool will become easier for you to use. Your veteran LinkedIn profile helps to shed light on your professional brand as you make your transition from the military to civilian world. Finally, in addition to being a professional networking site, you can use LinkedIn to get a job. LinkedIn is your connection to people throughout the world and your next career opportunity.
Dr. Phillip Gold is President/CEO of Empire Resume and has vast experience writing resumes for service-members transitioning from the military into civilian roles. He served as a Captain in the U.S. Air Force responsible for leading nuclear missile security. Phillip is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and holds a BA in Communications from The Ohio State University, an MS in Instructional Technology, an MBA in Finance, and a PhD in Finance.