I’ve said it a million times (okay, maybe not a million) but probably 999! Create a LinkedIn account when you are searching for a job and keep it updated when you are not.
While it’s not as big as Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn is the de facto social media site for professionals – including, yes, dental hygienists. Thousands of you are on it – I know that because that’s how we reach some of you.
But more important, when potential employers Google your name – and they will (studies have proven it) – chances are good they will find your LinkedIn profile right up near the top of the search rankings. Google gives LinkedIn a lot of credibility when people are doing searches on people because so many people have a LinkedIn account – same is true for Facebook.
Try it for yourself – Google the names of a few people you know who have been working professionally for at least a few years. See how high they rank. If they have a common name, add what state they live in.
There are several advantages to being found on LinkedIn, but one of them is it will give a potential employer at taste of who you are as a professional – and you want that. In fact, it may be enough so that they won’t bother trying to dig up information about you in other places. You control the content, including what picture they see of you!
So here’s 10 ways to make sure your LinkedIn profile page helps to sell your awesomeness as a dental hygienist:
1. Be Complete
Don’t hold back on your information. Give it to them exactly as it reads on your resume. This will reinforce the content of your resume.
2. Upload a Professional Picture
One of the things they taught us in PR school is the tactic of getting ahead of the story. Sharing your picture ahead, diffuses an employer’s interest/motivation in digging much deeper to see what you look like (what’s the point – they will already know). It gives you a chance to control what picture they find of you. (Hint: But get a professional head shot taken – or one of you wearing a lab coat.)
3. Customize the Address
One cool feature (and Facebook and Twitter offer this too) is the ability to customize the address for your profile. If you can get your name without any added random numbers or letters that’s good. But a better idea is to create one with “RDH” in it. For example: www.LinkedIn.com/MichelleBellRDH . Once you do that, have it printed on your business cards and add it to your e-mail signature line (remember: you will probably send more than one e-mail when applying for RDH jobs so they will see that link and might check you out).
4. Summary Section
Use the Summary Section, shown near the top as basically the guts of your cover letter. Be brief and pointed with your sentences, and tell your story – share your personal brand. Three to five sentences and one to two paragraphs is sufficient.
5. Experience Section
This is very similar to what you will say on your resume. Job titles, employers, dates. But it also gives you a chance to provide a brief summary for each job. Keep it short, try to avoid listing mundane things and think of things you did that were different or above and beyond, or perhaps list include feedback a patient gave you. For example, “I really connected with patients. Here’s some feedback I received: ‘I love coming to All Smiles Dental and seeing Michelle – she is so nice and does everything to make me fee comfortable.”
6. Volunteer Experience Section
Don’t poo-poo this section. One study indicated that 40% of employers hiring valued volunteer experience equal to paid work experience. And another 20% said that it was a significant factor in their decision to hire. Volunteer work does count!
I prefer to call these “third-party validations” because that’s ultimately what they give you. They authenticate everything you say about yourself so they are worth requesting from others you have worked with that are also on LinkedIn. A great way to get recommendations is to give them. Be free in doing so but be honest and sincere so you get the same in return.
8. Keeping Changes Private
One of the faults LinkedIn has is that by default LinkedIn assumes everyone you are linked to will want to know (in your feed and even e-mail notices) about every change you make to your profile. It can get kind of ridiculous sometimes if they are small changes. But if you are working for someone and don’t want to tip them off you are “looking” for a job you can turn them off so the whole world doesn’t have to know about updates and changing you are making (go to the settings to do this).
9. Keep an Eye on the Job Board
LinkedIn does have a job board. While I am writing this there are 27 dental hygiene job openings sprinkled across the country. Not much, but still worth keeping an eye on as it will likely grow in the future. One advantage you have with your account is you can apply for the jobs with your built-in resume.
Just like you would do at a conference, look to build your network, especially with those with accounts located in your area. But you can also go beyond that. LinkedIn has “Groups” that you can join and there are several dental hygiene-related ones. GetHiredRDH has one we offer with a little over a hundred members right now and growing. These are forums where you can ask questions and discuss topics.
One last thing: Make sure your profile is set to “public” once you are good with how everything looks.