5 Tips for Military Spouses: Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile
For Military Spouses: How to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile
Military spouses can leverage the power of LinkedIn to achieve professional goals amidst the unique challenges they face. A strong network is a critical tool for spouses navigating frequent deployments, PCSs, and other unexpected professional hurdles while simultaneously juggling a career.
Natalia, a Hiring Our Heroes Military Spouse Professional Network (MSPN) Chapter Lead in Stuttgart, eloquently explains the value of a LinkedIn Profile for military spouses:
“It provides a platform for you to control your professional narrative.
It helps spouses turn the patchwork of their careers into a quilt.”
The MSPN is part of Hiring Our Heroes, a nationwide U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation initiative. Hiring Our Heroes seeks to help veterans, transitioning service members, and military spouses find meaningful employment. According to MSPN, 80% of jobs are filled by referral. For military spouses rewriting their career narratives with each PCS, a strong network is necessary.
Acquired by Microsoft in 2016, LinkedIn boasts a network of over 700 million members spanning 200 countries. Capitalize on this expansive network by optimizing your profile. Read on for profile tips and how military spouses can upgrade to LinkedIn Premium for free.
Tell a Story
Pictures are the first thing visitors see on your profile. A profile picture should be professional. Natalia explains that not uploading a profile picture isn’t necessarily a deal breaker. Some companies de-identify profiles by removing names and pictures before evaluating candidates. The profile and background photos can give a great first impression, and other companies actually prefer photos.
The headline and about sections introduce you professionally. Think of these sections as your elevator pitch, a brief description of your skills set that effectively answers the question “What do you do?” and “What do you want to do?” It should last just 20-30 seconds, or the length of an elevator ride and leave a lasting impression.
Rethink Your Experience
At first glance, military spouses cringe at the chaotic web of experience they have collected and the huge gaps that exist between employment. When asked to list experience, many tend to think only of formal paid experience. Natalia lists volunteer work, education, and projects as significant experience that should be listed on a profile. This type of experience shows community engagement, personal initiative, and a commitment to lifelong learning. Rethink your experience and those resume gaps might not be so big. Natalia also recommends asking contacts to endorse specific skills, further highlighting your professional abilities.
Utilize Direct Links
Direct links to a project you worked on, an award you received, or something you wrote further validates your experience. Paid or unpaid, linking directly to a webpage increases your visibility.
Links to your own work are just one way to engage. Natalia describes that people can engage with other people, with companies, or with entire industries. She recommends following leaders in your industry, posting content regularly, and using it as a tool to keep up with new information in an industry.
Natalia also shares that extending congratulations via LinkedIn or reaching out for a mentor can be advantageous during an interview. A hiring manager can see that you’ve followed them and engaged with an industry. Engaging and networking with others purposefully can transform the platform into a far more useful tool for strengthening your own professional network.
Keep it Up to Date
Optimizing a profile isn’t useful for long if it isn’t kept up to date. Natalia points out the utility of regularly updating professional achievements – the information is organized and readily available for filling out applications.
LinkedIn Premium Free for Military Spouses
Military spouses with a MySECO account are eligible for LinkedIn Premium free for one year. The following steps are required before the free upgrade.
- Create a free MySECO account
- Meet with SECO career coach by phone or live chat
- Attend an online live webinar about leveraging your LinkedIn Premium account
- Complete the Leveraging LinkedIn Premium self-paced training course
A free, easy, and effective way to neatly thread an impressively complex web of experience into a page-turning story.
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