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If you’re a nurse who thinks LinkedIn is a job-seeking tool just for business people, please think again.

LinkedIn is as valuable a professional networking resource for nursing jobs as it is for any other career. If you haven’t joined LinkedIn, perhaps you should.

Why? Aside from the fact that LinkedIn is a highly popular social networking resource with more than 500 million members worldwide, there’s a compelling reason for nurses interested in career advancement to sign up for the platform: Nurse recruiters use it. They use it to search for and connect with job seekers. They use it as an adjunct to resumes to further vet the qualifications of job candidates.

Nurses can likewise explore potential employers. Hospitals and other healthcare employers have LinkedIn profiles, too, where nurses can glean a sense of an organization’s values, view testimonials, follow news and job openings, and more.

Even if you’re not looking for a new nursing job, LinkedIn offers opportunities to expand your knowledge base by connecting with other nurses, as well as professional organizations. Learn more about the network’s features in this brief guide.

A LinkedIn profile represents a professional picture of you, and you should invest as much time into creating your profile as you have your resume and cover letter. With its broad reach, LinkedIn isn’t geared to specifically showcase the talents of licensed healthcare professionals, but there are ways to tweak your profile to better suit your needs.

Already have a profile in place? That’s great, but since the company revamped the layout and functions of its network in 2017, you should investigate whether your profile needs an update. (In fact, whether you’re a new member or long-time user, you should frequently update your profile.)

Check out these eight hacks for creating or updating a nurse profile on LinkedIn, and read on for details and how-to’s.

Notifications

LinkedIn uses automatic notifications to alert your networked connections when you create or update your profile. That’s helpful when your profile is complete or you’ve gotten a new job or promotion, but not so much when you’re in the middle of making changes. Especially when you’re creating your profile, you may go through a few drafts. No one needs or wants to see anything less than a completed, well-executed profile. Turn off notifications until you’ve perfected your profile. Just

don’t forget to turn them back on when you’re ready to share it across your network.

Profile Photo

A LinkedIn profile photo can score up to 21 times more profile views, according to the company. LinkedIn is not Facebook, however. This is not the place for a vacation selfie or glamour shot. Instead, invest in a professional portrait.

LinkedIn is not Facebook, however. This is not the place for a vacation selfie or glamour shot. Instead, invest in a professional portrait.

You can use your smartphone in a pinch, but be careful to ensure the result is professional and puts you in a good light — literally. Experts recommend natural lighting and simple, neutral backgrounds. Prospective employers want to see you, after all, not where you are.

If you’re saving money or time with a DYI headshot, enlist the help of a friend or family member to take your picture. You’ll avoid awkward head or shoulder angles that scream selfie, plus you’ll get a critical set of eyes to watch for stray hairs or ties or jewelry that have gone askew.

Speaking of your attire, don’t overdo it on the accouterments. Dress simply and professionally. Unless you’re vying for a leadership position, you need not go suit-and-tie formal. Casual business attire is generally acceptable. Bedside nurses can wear scrubs in their profile shots, and lab coats are suitable for nurse practitioners; but avoid a healthcare uniform if you want to move toward a leadership role.

Use the photo editing filters newly available on LinkedIn’s mobile app, or on free apps, like Google’s Snapseed (for iOS or Android) or PicMonkey, to clean up blemishes, correct lighting, and create contrast between you and your background. Crop your photo to avoid a long view, which won’t engender a sense of connection between you and those who view your profile. Follow this rule of thumb with photo crops: Your face should comprise 80% of your profile photo.

Background Images

Ever since LinkedIn introduced its customizable background image feature, profiles without ones look, well, boring.

An online search will return a number of sites offering free, ready-made background images for LinkedIn. You might choose an abstract image or one that implies technology (and the skills you have in that area). Unfortunately, healthcare-specific background images for LinkedIn aren’t plentiful. If you choose to create your own background image, follow LinkedIn’s recommendations for size and format. Or use a free site like Canva.com to create a background image using your own photo.

Be sure to select a background image that projects your professionalism. Personalization is great, and employers like to get to know your interests; but consider what your image selection suggests about, say, your work ethic. That beautiful shot of a beach you took while on vacation might not send the right message.

If you take or select an image for your profile background that depicts your healthcare setting, be extra careful that any patients included in the picture are not identifiable to avoid running afoul of HIPPA. Ditto for avoiding identifiable healthcare colleagues in the shot: It’s best to keep the focus on you.

Credentials

LinkedIn does not currently feature a section to highlight the credentials of licensed healthcare professionals. That’s OK; you’ll want to feature your credentials prominently anyway by placing them up front and center with your name.

Try this simple hack: Add your credentials after your last name in the last name field of your profile. Follow the preferred order of nurse credentials:

  • Highest degree earned
  • Licensure (“RN”)
  • National certifications
  • Special honors or recognition, such as “FAAN”

Go easy on listing your certifications. LinkedIn offers a section to highlight them under the “Accomplishments” section. List only those behind your name that are particularly relevant to your current career trajectory.

Headline

Your profile photo provides viewers of your LinkedIn profile their first impression of you. The second thing viewers typically see (and judge you by)? Your headline.

Beware LinkedIn’s default, which automatically lists your job title and employer in your headline. Edit the headline field to include the elements that make you stand out, such as your specialty and expertise. Pay particular attention to keywords — words and phrases that act as shortcuts in LinkedIn database searches, such as “critical care,” “emergency,” or “RN leader.” Review online job postings to gain a sense of keywords relevant to your specialty; they’ll typically reveal themselves by being repeated across different job posts.

Healthcare recruiters want to clearly and quickly see the function of your current nursing job in your headline, but the addition of an adjective or two will add flavor — and increase engagement with your profile. Get creative, but avoid overused terms like “experienced” or “passionate.” Turn to LinkedIn for help. It publishes an annual list of meaningless buzzwords for its platform.

Use your headline to showcase not only what you do, but also how you’ve done it. Have you been singled out for an honor or award? You might consider a headline such as “Accomplished emergency RN recognized for clinical excellence.” No awards to your credit? Highlight an element of your success on your current job, such as your focus on achieving high levels of patient satisfaction or your reputation as a problem-solver. Doing so will not only better describe you and your skills, but it will also alert a prospective employer to the benefits you could bring to its organization.

LinkedIn limits the headline section of your profile to 120 characters, so be mindful of compressing your many talents. Focus on what makes you unique.

Summary

Here’s where you can fully engage viewers of your profile. A successful summary is not a cut-and-paste duplicate of your resume, but rather a first-person story of who you are as a licensed nurse, what you’ve accomplished in your professional life thus far, and where you’d like to go in your career.

Emphasize your clinical skills in your summary, but bring some life to it as well with patient care anecdotes or experiences or people that have inspired you. Don’t discount encounters that have honed your customer service skills; recruiters are on the lookout for nurses who elevate patient satisfaction at their facilities.

Write with a friendly but professional tone, and break up your narrative by using short chunks of text to keep the reader interested. No one wants or has time to read a lengthy dissertation. Try to weave in liberal use of keywords, and use bullet points to summarize clinical, technical, or other skills.

Don’t rush this process. Invest time into crafting a solid summary that reflects your unique talents, and ask a friend or colleague to review your drafts to ensure your completed summary will be easy to read and free of typos and other errors.

LinkedIn will automatically display the first two lines of your summary, so make every effort to entice viewers to see more with engaging text at the start of your narrative. If you’ve temporarily disabled notifications, you can tweak your lead sentence(s) until you’re satisfied you have a compelling introduction.

Personalized URL

Nurse employers like to see technological skills, so imply how digital-savvy you are by customizing your LinkedIn web address, or URL. Emphasize your nursing licensure by including it in your URL, as in “LinkedIn.com/in/JoeSmithRN” or “LinkedIn.com/in/Sue-Jones-APRN.”

Consider including your personalized LinkedIn URL on your resume and in your cover letters.

Open Candidate

LinkedIn provides a little-known feature that allows you to privately signal to nurse recruiters that you’re actively open to employment opportunities. Open Candidate lets you set preferences for the type of job and location you’re seeking, among others.

The feature matches your career interests to recruiters’ candidate searches. Importantly, LinkedIn automatically hides your identified career interests from your profile, and it excludes recruiters at your current place of employment to save you the discomfort of having your desire for a new nursing job known. Learn more about privacy controls with Open Candidate here.

Of course, you’ll benefit from having a complete, compelling profile and a healthy network of connections before you broadcast yourself to the LinkedIn world. In our next post, we’ll explore ways to build and maintain your network. In the meantime, take a look at opportunities at Eisenhower Medical Center by visiting our Careers page.

Originally posted on 14/7/2017

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