- The Essential Military-to-Civilian Transition Resource

Are You LinkedIn? 7 Steps to a Great LinkedIn Military Profile

by Heidi Russell Rafferty, Contributing Editor

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Article Sponsored by: Humana

It’s considered one of the top three social media networks behind Facebook and Twitter, and a must-have for professionals. No, it’s not MySpace or Google+; it’s LinkedIn. It might seem like just another place to put your resume, but it is so much more! Not only can you search for jobs, you can join groups, like our own Linkedin Group,, and connect with military that have transitioned or are transitioning. LinkedIn Groups can offer invaluable information and great contacts. Here are seven ways to create a winning public profile.

  1. Get a decent photo. According to Nashville-based Managing Director for Reputation Advocate Steven Wyer, author of “Violated Online,” the most important step to creating your profile is posting an appropriate picture. “It is amazing how many people don’t put one in, and if they do, it’s not a professional head shot. We don’t want to see you at the beach on Thanksgiving weekend,” Wyer says.
  2. Try to be as specific as possible. What you post about your skills and experience on your profile is used when prospective employers are searching for potential hires. So, it should be “civilianized” so that a civilian hiring manager (who might be totally unfamiliar with the military) can understand the skills you can bring to their company. However, if your goal is to work in the defense industry, defense contractor recruiters may be searching LinkedIn for specific experience that can be best related in military acronyms. For instance, if you repaired a certain type of aircraft or piece of electronic equipment, including the acronym for it could help you be found. So it may be wise to have both - a civilian-worded area and a military acronym area - for each area of your experience.
  3. Join groups, then participate. Each LinkedIn member can join up to 50 groups. All told, there are 871,000 groups. “In those groups, participate and drill down into your specialization,” Wyer says. “If I’m a headhunter for an engineering firm, I’m in 50 engineering groups, and I’m reading threads, looking to see who is articulate, intelligent and knowledgeable. It’s the greatest screening process in the world.”
  4. Connect. This is the fun part. Search for friends under “people” in the search box at the top right of the page. It’s also completely appropriate to connect with people in your group. The benefit of connecting is like any other kind of networking, it’s a way to get your foot in the door (if you’re connecting with someone at a company where you are interested in working) and to build your own personal network. You can also find out what your peers have done. One of the biggest benefits of LinkedIn is that you can use the people search tool to see what others in your branch of service, and perhaps even in your rank and Military Occupational Specialty, have gone on to do in the civilian world. You should also try to connect with any person you served with that can give you advice about your job search, or even more importantly, a positive recommendation.
  5. Realize the power of a LinkedIn recommendation. “Those are, in essence, referral sources. On a traditional application, you’d list three employers, and the interviewer calls them. Now they have the ability to see where you’ve worked, who recommended you and actually have a dialog with them without calling,” Wyer says. To request a recommendation, you go to your profile, scroll down to “recommendations” and send a request to someone to whom you have already been linked.
  6. Create a vanity link. When you first create your LinkedIn profile, LinkedIn also creates a personal link, which usually looks like: To create a link that is more easily found, simply log into your profile and click on “Edit my Profile.” Scroll down to the words “Public Profile” and to the right side of the link click “edit.” Most people use their first and last name, but depending on how unique your name is, you may have to try a few combinations to get what you want. If your proposed name is already taken, LinkedIn will let you know after you click “set address.” Once you have your link, you can include it on your resume.
  7. Treat connection requests like you would at a networking event. “A good rule of thumb is to accept all [requests to connect] and not try to filter people out,” Wyer says. “What that individual person has to say to you may not be of particular interest, but you gain access to their network, and someone in their network may be of high interest to you, or you may be to them.”

Social Integrity Musts

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Secret Tip

Once you log into your profile, click on “Home.” Then, halfway down the page, you’ll see a box that says, “Who’s Viewed Your Profile.” Some people don’t realize that this lists everyone that has looked at your profile within a certain time period. Sometimes, it may just say, “Anonymous LinkedIn User,” but more often than not, you will see a list of people. Even after you transition to civilian life, LinkedIn provides peer-to-peer networking and ways to enhance your professional career. Keep linking and joining groups. Remember, “It’s who you know,” that counts.

Freelancer Heidi Russell Rafferty is a reporter with 19 years of experience who writes about employment and business issues.


Return to January/February 2012 Issue