Today, an online presence is everything. That’s why, just as religiously as you update your Facebook page, you should update your job information on your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn essentially serves as an online resume, so don’t discount its importance! Whenever you move up in your company, change positions or if acquire a new skill, let others in your network know.
Here are a few tips on how to use LinkedIn for your benefit in the scientific field.
Upload a Great Profile Picture
No, it's not a beauty contest, but yes, the profile picture IS important. It puts a face to a name, and makes you more approachable. Get professional pictures done and you'll feel much better about your profile right away.
Put the Summary to Good Use
Use the summary section to talk about your scientific strengths and interests. This is the main space in which you get to sell yourself, so put it to good use! Highlight your achievements, strengths and scientific interests. This will help recruiters and hiring managers realize you’re an asset worth pursuing.
Personalize your URL
LinkedIn allows you to personalize your URL, so do it! Use something professional like your first and last name, or go with something fun (but still professional) like "ChemistryChristy".
Elaborate on Job History
When it comes to sharing your past job experiences, sharing your title and the company name is not enough. Use the space provided to write a description of what you did in each position. Tell where you excelled and what you were responsible for. Simply stating you were a "Sr. Scientist" does not give any insight into your actual role and responsibilities!
School Counts as Experience
If you’re still in school, don’t think that you have zero experience! While many biotechs don't count your education as formal experience, you DO have a job while you're in school. You can highlight your advanced degrees as work experience. Think about it: If you've done a PhD you’ve had years of experience designing experiments, publishing papers, speaking at conferences and mentoring technicians and other students. That counts for something!
Add Your Publications
If you've completed a dissertation or research articles, don’t forget to add your publications to your LinkedIn profile. You can link your profile with those of your co-authors to show what culminated of your teamwork.
Don’t Forget Skills
Adding skills to your LinkedIn profile draws others to your profile. Employers and recruiters often use LinkedIn to search for qualified candidates like you. But be honest! Don’t add skills if you aren't prepared to demonstrate competency... just knowing what a Mass Spec looks like does not make you competent to run and analyze Mass Spec experiments.
Optimizing your LinkedIn profile for your scientific experience takes time, but it’s well worth the effort. Once you get your online resume up to date, join groups and follow companies that interest you to keep abreast in your field and current trends, and to stay sharp against competition.