LinkedIn profiles are free and provide vital information including career history, experience, recommendations and references and even the option of posting a professional photo. But nurses using this job-seeking tool should take care to maintain professionalism and avoid potential pitfalls.
Veronica Lopez, a senior nurse recruiter for Continuum Health Partners, said she recalls one mistake made by an employee as a result of not properly managing the powers and potential of LinkedIn as a networking and resume resource.
“I have my contact information on LinkedIn for connecting with potential hires and also use the website as a tool for researching candidates for our nursing positions,” said Lopez, who is responsible for hiring for Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City and other hospitals. “Ill never forget one day, not too long ago, I received what was basically a blanket outreach resume and hiring inquiry about possible positions, and it was from someone who was already working for us at one of our hospitals,” Lopez said. “And that someone was in a position which happens to be one thats very difficult for us to recruit for and fill. So to get this sent to me did not sit well. In talking to this person, I was told that the individual had no idea this information was being sent out by a third party via LinkedIn. Whether it was or was not, the lesson is, know how to make LinkedIn work for you in the best possible way.”
Tips for linking
Launched in May 2003, LinkedIn has become a go-to website for “professional networking,” with the now-publicly traded company boasting more than 150 million registered users spanning 200 countries as of February.
All of LinkedIn.coms features are accessible with just a few key strokes and mouse clicks.
Lopez advises nurses to use their LinkedIn profiles to focus on their experience and work history.
“The sections on the LinkedIn profiles that offer the chance to include personal interests and hobbies are what I skip right over when Im looking at potential candidates for positions,” Lopez said.
“Remember, Im looking at hundreds of profiles, and if its not pertinent information related to what Im hiring for, in my opinion, everything else is just distracting to me. Put that stuff on those other social media sites. Thats what Facebook is for. Also, something listed in that area might change how I perceive you, even if its not the case. If you mention something about liking video games or maybe ‘Dungeons & Dragons, I might focus on this, rather than directing that same attention somewhere else.”
She also encourages nurses to include a professional photo on their profiles.
“Your photo on LinkedIn serves only to put a face with a person behind the resume,” Lopez said. “It only needs to be a head and shoulders photo, nothing more. A great guideline is the photo should look like the equivalent of our employment ID badge photo.”
One of the most helpful areas of any LinkedIn profile for “getting to know a nurse candidate,” Lopez said, is to examine who potential job candidates are “linked to” when browsing the section that allows the profile user to also be “connected” to the profiles of other users on the site.
“Who you are associated with and who you know also tells me something about you and your associations, and this is important,” Lopez said.
Adelphi Universitys School of Nursing Dean Patrick R. Coonan, RN, EdD, NEA-BC, FACHE, helps fine-tune and polish the resumes and LinkedIn profiles of his students and graduates eager to acquire their first positions.
“Its 2012 and if youre not on LinkedIn, you arent casting a very wide net for all of the possibilities available for employment,” said Coonan, who has had his own profile on LinkedIn for four years.
“So many nursing positions that open up are now posted on LinkedIn. This is where nurse recruiters are going to find the matches they are seeking to fill vacancies because its so easy to do. Everything they are looking for [during]the first step of a hiring process is at their fingertips.”
Coonan disagrees with Lopez that the area of the LinkedIn profile about personal interests and hobbies is not necessary or considered for the hiring process.
“I think knowing just a few personal qualities or hobbies about a person helps to humanize a LinkedIn profile and establishes a connection,” Coonan said. “Also, its very important to have a LinkedIn profile that is categorized on the website as 100% complete, meaning you have taken the time to fill in and answer every question and area. If you are leaving sections blank under hobbies and interest, then your profile cant be 100% complete.”
Coonan said hes found experts disagree about the merits of having a photo included with LinkedIn profiles.
“There are two schools of thought,” Coonan said. “For example, a photo on LinkedIn can give away age. But no matter what opinions might be, I still think its important to be represented by a photo because recruiters want to [put]a face with a name.”
Ask for recommendations
For 15 years, Liza deGuzman-Galido has been a nurse recruiter. “LinkedIn is one of the best professional networking tools available today,” said deGuzman-Galido, who works for CenterLight Health System, formerly Beth Abraham Family of Health Services, based in the Bronx, N.Y.
“Its the best chance to have more people see your resume and your potential. But I still see so many people who dont use all of the capacities and features provided by LinkedIn.com,” she added.
She suggests nurses use the recommendations feature, which allows former and current colleagues, business associates and managers to craft brief and descriptive explanations of praise for another persons skills and abilities.
“If nurses arent using the recommendations option for LinkedIn profiles, then they arent using the features of the website to its full potential,” deGuzman-Galido said. “What makes LinkedIn so beneficial is it also places all of the control in the hands of the user. Any recommendation that has been completed about a person is first sent to that person to approve prior to being added to any profile.”
According to deGuzman-Galido, the No. 1 priority for any LinkedIn user should be to make certain profile information is professional, uses correct grammar and has been spell-checked.
“LinkedIn doesnt replace the traditional hard copy paper resumes of yesterday,” she said. “Rather, this site works as a companion tool for resumes. And just like a resume, you want every word and entry on a profile to be letter perfect since its reflecting on you. LinkedIn should help rather than hurt someones chances to make a good impression.”