Posted by: Dan | July 9, 2012

Job Search with LinkedIn (Part I – Getting Started)

While looking for a job, there’s a free resource that may be even more helpful than the online search engines and career fairs called LinkedIn.

What’s LinkedIn?  If you took Facebook, put it in professional attire, took away the party photos from last Friday night, and gave it a resume, you’d have LinkedIn. Basically, it’s a very powerful tool to network and show off your experience.

Follow these steps to get setup on LinkedIn and start networking yourself to a new career:

1. Build Your Profile.  Completing your profile will help new contacts learn about you.

Photo.  Use a clear photo where you’re dressed professionally. Your profile will describe your military service… Your photo should not. You look really sharp in your dress uniform, but this isn’t the place for it. Show that you’re ready for your next steps as a civilian.

Experience.  Your experience should briefly capture the major highlights of each of your commands and deployments, and it should follow our resume guidance to describe your military experience in civilian terms.

Education.  If you have an associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, or another degree or certification, include it here. If you’re currently in an academic program, include it and indicate your expected graduation date.

Certifications.  List any certifications you completed through the military and on your own.

2. Public Profile:  We just outlined the basics to setup your profile. However, there are technically two profiles. There’s one that all of your contacts see, and there’s one that the public (people who aren’t your contacts) can see.

– Why setup the public profile?  It’s likely one of the top links people will see when they Google you.  Edit your profile to control what the public can see.

– How do you set it up? Click “Profile” from the top menu bar. Then, you’ll see a box on the left side that contains a place for your photo, and basic information about your “Current” job position, “Past” job position, and more.

– Click the link next to “Public Profile” to see your public profile.

– To make changes, click “Edit” on the “Public Profile” line. You can check or uncheck boxes to control what profile sections the public can see.

– To change the name of the link, click “Customize your public profile URL” near the top right of the screen. Enter your name without spaces. This makes the link shorter and easier to remember.

3. Recommendations:  Getting recommendations adds credibility to your profile, because someone else describes the great work you’ve done.

– How do you get a recommendation?  Click “Ask For Recommendations” and send the request to people you worked with or who worked with you.

– Be selective.  You only need a few recommendations, and they should come from people who can effectively describe one or two key things you’ve done. For example, you don’t want a recommendation like “Mark is a great guy to have on your team.” What are a couple things that Mark has done that make him stand out?

4. Expand Your Network:  The more people you’re connected to, the more you can learn about new companies and opportunities.

– Enter the names of people you know.  Some of your friends may already be on LinkedIn.

– If your military friends and other contacts are not already on LinkedIn, invite them.

Note: Don’t invite people you don’t know.  Only send requests to people you know.  If you would like to connect to someone who is connected to one of your contacts, ask your contact to make the introduction.

5. Join Groups:  There are many veteran organizations to join.  What’s the benefit to joining?

–       First, you can connect with many more people beyond your network.

–       Second, you can see what others are posting and commenting on.

–       Third, many employers post opportunities on group walls.

–       Last, it’s free to join groups. 

Switch has a LinkedIn group – Join us by clicking here!

6. Email Signature:  You can create an email signature on LinkedIn that brings people to your page.

Note – this only works on certain versions of Outlook and Mozilla Thunderbird.

–       On LinkedIn’s home page, click “Tools” from the bottom panel.

–       Then, click “Try it Now” in the Email Signature section.

–       Next, click “View Gallery” and choose a design.

–       Edit any section.

–       Click “Click Here for Instructions”.

–       Choose your email client and follow the instructions.

7. Create Website Buttons:  If you have a website or a blog, you could bring visitors to your LinkedIn page by adding a button.

–       Follow the steps from #2, and look for the box labeled “Profile Badges”.

–       Click “Create a Profile Badge”.

–       Select a button design, and copy the code next to it.

–       Paste the code into your website or blog in HTML mode.

Stay tuned for LinkedIn Part II, where we’ll show you how to improve your job search using LinkedIn.

Please send any questions and comments to

© 2012 SwitchStarter, LLC



  1. […] your Network.  Do you know veterans in a role that you’re interested in?  Search through your LinkedIn contacts for vets who are current or prior employees at companies that you’re interested in. If […]

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