You may have seen the recent announcement from LinkedIn about new LinkedIn profile sections designed specifically for students. The article titled, Introducing New Profile Sections Designed for Students, explains how the new sections can enhance a student’s LinkedIn profile as well as how to add these sections to your profile (which I’m not covering in this article).
After quickly looking at the new sections, I realized that only 2 of those 5 new sections were truly specific to students (Courses and Test Scores) and that those of us long past our college days can take advantage of these sections to add depth to our profile beyond just our career involvement. These sections can be used to highlight your community and volunteer involvement as well as special “honors” – like speaking engagements – that may not be part of our normal work activity.
One of the biggest complaints that I hear about the limitations of the LinkedIn profile is the ordering of current positions. As people progress throughout their careers, they often become involved in significant community and nonprofit work where they hold a leadership position or have played a significant role, and they would like to share this information on their LinkedIn profile. Sometimes it’s because of the prestige of the role, sometimes it’s because they want to promote the organization, and sometimes it’s for reasons that aren’t obvious. Regardless, this becomes a problem because the new volunteer position transcends the “real job” because all current positions are listed newest to oldest.
Now, instead of creating an “Experience” listing for your volunteer work, you can use “Organizations.” This new section allows you to list leadership positions and even associate it with one of your career experience items – so they are tied together – if you want.
If you’ve had a volunteer position listed on your profile and you’ve gotten recommendations for that position, you may be thinking that you’re stuck with the old format – you’re not. If you delete the volunteer position, the recommendations aren’t deleted with it; they go into a limbo where they’re not shown on your profile. After deleting, you simply go into Manage Recommendations and reassign them to the Experience position you’ve tied the Organizations to, click on “show” and they’re back on your profile. If someone wants to give you a recommendation for the volunteer Organizations, they simply assign it to the position in Experience tied to the organization and reference in the recommendation that it is for the volunteer work.
The new Project section can benefit both your volunteer and for-profit work. From the volunteer side, this is a great place to list significant community projects you’ve been involved in that are clearly defined. For example, most city Leadership programs require the participants to work together on a community project. Additionally, you may be part of a major project at work that would be beneficial to highlight. One of my personal examples is that when I was at Cincinnati Museum Center, I was part of the team that helped coordinate the first tax levy campaign. That wasn’t a normal part of my job activities and doesn’t really “fit” into my job description. The Project section will now let me share that accomplishment more easily.
This new Honors & Awards section isn’t just an empty text box like the one right above your Personal Information Section. This Honors & Awards section lets you enter specific honors and awards and connect them to a specific position. An “award” is defined by an outside source, but an “honor” is defined first by us. If you feel “honored” by any organization or event, then list it here! To be honest, I think this is a perfect place to list things like pro bono speaker engagements and the like. I was already doing that in the original Honors & Awards section, but the character limit was too small.
So, how are you going to take advantage of these new sections?
Crystal Thies has been known as the LinkedIn Ninja since founding her company, Crystal Clear Buzz, in 2009. Although well versed and experienced in all social media, Crystal specializes in the utilization of LinkedIn for sales and business development. As a past financial planner, Crystal is one of the few social media strategists with expertise to work with those regulated by FINRA, the SEC, and IIROC. She is the co-author of “The Social Media Handbook for Financial Advisors” published by Bloomberg Press.