This week, one Naturejobs reader sent us the following question:
“How important is it and in what way can a scientist make their LinkedIn profile look good? I hear it so often that sometimes I wonder whether it is worth all the effort to keep it savvy the way I see IT professionals or finance professionals do.”
As scientists work in different ways to a lot of other professionals, having online profiles might seem unnecessary. But whilst many scientific contacts are made through more formal networks, that’s no reason to dismiss the power of sites like LinkedIn. Here are just a few reasons why:
- So many people now use social media sites like LinkedIn to look for other professionals, you don’t want to be left out in the cold.
- Science involves collaboration – and online profiles are a great way to network and share ideas. It doesn’t replace more traditional methods like conferences, but adds to them.
- You can tailor your profile more easily than an academic profile page, which often follows a standard format. What’s more, your online profile will go with you when you change jobs/institutions, whereas academic profiles get outdated.
- It’s about more than a profile – joining groups and discussions on LinkedIn, and following others, can help you with your career interests.
- Any digital profile allows you to include links to other sites, projects, or work that says even more about who you are -such as blogs, a Twitter profile, or a conference you spoke at recently, to name but a few.
- Algorithms that match you to people with similar interests could lead to unimagined opportunities.
- Having all your information in one place means you can us it to create tailor made CVs for different jobs, or to supply information to visualisation tools, like Vizify.
As for the other part of the question – how to make your profile look good?
1. To start with, make good use of your LinkedIn headline. This is attached to your name and photo in every communication that you send within LinkedIn. You can write up to 120 characters so instead of just listing your job title alone, consider crafting a statement that explains what you do and what sets you apart from the rest.
2. Use your profile summary to talk about who you are and what you do in more detail. This is the place to talk about research you are working on, subjects you are interested in, and ideas for potential future projects. If you are looking to collaborate, include a call to action for others to get in touch with you.
3. Make sure your profile is 100% complete. The more information, the more use it will be to others, and complete profiles also show up higher in search results.
4. Turn off your ‘activity broadcasts’ in your privacy control settings if you are looking for a new job and don’t want your employer to know. These announce when you change your profile, make a recommendation or follow a company.
5. Include a photo on your profile, but make sure it’s reasonably professional.
6. Include links to other sites, whether they are personal or work-related, as long as they reflect a positive image that you’d like to give out to other professionals.
7. Update your profile regularly, so that others will see your activity and to promote all the good work you are doing.
If you too have a question for us, get in touch.