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It is never too late to pursue a new career. As an Executive Resume Writer, I can attest that returning to school after years in the workforce with the intent of using your new graduate or undergraduate degree to make a change is quite common! With the last semester looming and graduation on the horizon or in the rear view mirror, many have a dream role in mind but struggle with how to position themselves, and their new degree, on LinkedIn.

With 2019 right around the corner, it’s time to think about what the new year holds for your executive career. If it’s time to make a change, or at least prepare for one, it’s not about just brushing up your resume and having it ready for executive recruiters.

It’s also about polishing and optimizing your LinkedIn profile to make sure it attracts opportunities and supports your candidacy for right-fit leadership roles and serves as a tool to build and track your network—an important part of any executive job search strategy.

As a LinkedIn profile strategist, I see a lot of profiles in their un-optimized format and have compiled a list of what to avoid doing on LinkedIn, that in fact, most of my clients were doing before coming to me.

I’m sure you hear about people securing jobs through their networks all the time. In fact, if you look back at your own work history, you’ll probably recall that some of the vacancies you filled in the past were brought to your attention by people you knew. As an executive leader, you may also know that when you are trying to fill positions you first look internally and then as close to internally as possible, drawing on referrals of current employees or maybe people you’ve done business with.

As you know LinkedIn is the world’s largest online professional network. Therefore, you want to be sure your profile is a compelling and accurate portrayal of your professional brand. Whether you are actively seeking new opportunities or not, it’s important to maintain your LinkedIn profile to keep it fresh and up-to-date.

A few minutes a week is all you need to maximize your visibility and capture the attention of recruiters, company leaders, and industry colleagues. You wouldn’t want to present an outdated resume to a recruiter or employer. The same applies to your LinkedIn profile—especially since it’s so visible. A few easy ways to get started:

In our current international business environment, most executives have colleagues and clients across the globe, which means the days of limiting your networking to local business events is a thing of the past. To build and maintain your professional network, it’s important to take a strategic virtual approach.

As an executive, you know that having a captivating LinkedIn profile and continually building and staying active with your LinkedIn connections are vital aspects of virtual networking. But there is more to virtual networking then just maintaining your LinkedIn profile.

You’ve probably noticed LinkedIn is in continuous flux, with tweaks to the interface and new features rolling out fairly regularly – often with little to no warning. To make thing even more complex, rollouts occur in waves so one user might have a new feature while the other is left waiting. For job seekers and for those who value protecting their professional brand, there are four new features I recommend becoming familiar with that by now should appear on the desktops of all users:

 

1. New Setting Protects Your Profile from Plagiarism

The word “networking” conjures up negative images in my mind. It appears as if one is reaching out to others with purely selfish motives and with the sole objective of “taking” and not “giving”. Many people feel similarly – hence, the attempt to neutralize it by introducing synonyms such as “relationship building” or “connecting” without a real attempt to address the emotions/motives underneath the effort!

You wouldn’t embark on a cross-country road trip without the tools you need to reach your destination, would you? Maybe some maps, but definitely a good GPS system these days. While not infallible, GPS is nearly always helpful.

The same holds true for the tools you need to use in your high-level job search—loosely defined as VP and above. They must be as strong as possible, and you need to use them as wisely and effectively as possible. Like a GPS, though, they might not be perfect.

Which brings us to LinkedIn as a tool for your job search.

It is no secret that executives have hectic schedules and are often left with little or no time to allocate for social networking, both online or in person. But could a half-hearted approach to LinkedIn actually be harming your reputation, your brand, your organization and your future?

Here’s four reasons why it might be time to reprioritize and find time for LinkedIn:

 

1. A Half-Hearted LinkedIn Harms Your Reputationlinkedin profile

In an increasingly digital world, most of us have ended up owning and taking up rent-free digital real estate on platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter et al. And queries from users range from the basics (how do I set up my profile well) to the advanced (how do I maximize my ROI)! In this context, a compendium of suggestions I share from time to time with folks who reach out to me is as given below:

 

Do not spam: The sheer number of invites I get from strangers, followed by an immediate request for help, is rather huge. People have become rather unabashed. This is certainly NOT recommended. The key is to be subtle, not over-the-top.