Professional networking site LinkedIn is a great way to find and apply to jobs, as well as keep a resume in clear view for hiring managers.  For those who are already employed, it’s a chance to find opportunities for advancement, and for those opportunities to find you. Either way, it's a great tool to help you land the interviews you need to get ahead. LinkedIn can be competitive, however, and you’ll want to stand out from your peers. This week we're spotlighting 10 ways to do just that.  The best part is that none of the following tips should take more than a few minutes to implement.  After all, LinkedIn shouldn’t be your full-time job; it should help you find it.

1. Choose the Right Photo  

Your first fix should be the first thing anybody will see:  your photograph.  LinkedIn is a professional networking site, with an emphasis on “professional.” Don’t choose a silly photo, even if you’re applying to companies that have a casual environment.  Show employers that you take work seriously, and do it from the start. They aren’t likely to visit your profile twice if they didn’t like what they saw the first time.

2. Refine Your Headline

Whenever you update your job title on LinkedIn, the site automatically generates a headline for your profile.  What you might not know is that you can change this.  If you’d like to stand out from other job seekers, this is a must. A break from format will catch eyes, and will make you look savvier.  Change it to something more specific to why you should be hired.  “Associate at ABC Company” says very little, but “Proven and Enthusiastic Graphic Design Guru” might say it all.

3. Create a Vanity URL

“Check out my profile at www dot linkedin dot com slash profile slash view slash id=AAQAAAoHBL0JJNmBBjqjqbOZktt0vM,” said nobody ever. You can set up a /FirstnameLastname address as long as nobody has it already, and you should do exactly that.  If your name is taken, try something like /FirstnameExpertise, so something similarly appropriate to who you are.  It will be much more memorable for others, and it looks good on a business card.  Doing so is easy.  Simply edit your profile, and move the mouse over the URL that displays beneath your photo.  Click the settings icon (it looks like a gear) and you'll be taken to a page that lets you change your public profile URL.

4. Actively Solicit Recommendations and Endorsements

LinkedIn offers great tools in the form of Recommendations and Endorsements. Recommendations are testimonials that your connections write, and they’re valuable insights into what it was like to work with you.  Don’t be shy about asking colleagues for one, and asking them to highlight specific skills or contributions you've made. You may even want to write some sample verbiage that they can utilize, especially if they are busy leadership-level colleagues.  Additionally, ask if they’d be willing to endorse a skill.  Endorsements only take a single click, allowing connections to vouch for your performance in categories from Phone Support to Corporate Management.

5. Be Selective With Your Endorsements

You may find that people endorse you for skills that are irrelevant to your professional goals.  If you’re applying for jobs as a photographer, an Endorsement for Duct Repair isn’t going to help.  LinkedIn allows you to reject Endorsements, so keep your profile relevant and uncluttered. These Endorsements are similar to something we offer students at CSU Global: Skills Endorsements and Awards of Completion.  These are part of a larger initiative that we call Degree Optimization.  Whether they're our Endorsements or LinkedIn's, they're great for letting employers know the specific skills you've developed throughout your career.

6. Keep Your Job Descriptions Brief

We know what you did at your last job:  “everything.”  But listing every function you performed at every job won’t make you look versatile. It will make you look overwhelmed, and walls of text are not going to hold the attention of a busy recruiter.  Use 3-5 bullets for each, and keep them brief.  Employers know that your day-to-day tasks entailed much more, but this will help them see that you can identify which duties were the most important.

7. Check Your Tone  

Your profile should be concise, but you should take care to not appear terse or dismissive.  Read over your language to ensure that any frustrations don’t come through.  This is not the place to share concerns about a previous employer.  You may be asked in an interview why you left a previous position, but on LinkedIn employers only want to know about your skills, abilities, and accomplishments.  Don’t use it as a platform for venting, knowingly or otherwise.

8. Participate  

Pick one skill that you’d like to spotlight, and search for the most active or interesting LinkedIn group relevant to that topic.  Connect with the users who seem to know their stuff.  Answer the questions that others ask.  Not only might potential employers find your postings, but you’ll establish a camaraderie with other users, who might reach out to you with openings that suit your talents.

9. Find Clients and Colleagues

Even if you don’t use LinkedIn much, you have connections in real life.  Look them up!  Add old coworkers and past clients to your network.  It’s a great way to keep in touch, and it will let potential employers see you as part of a wider, healthier network.  They may even leave valuable Recommendations and Endorsements on your profile. That's a great bonus!

10. Keep it Professional

You may be connected to friends on LinkedIn, but it should never become a place for casual banter, teasing, or anything you wouldn’t want a potential employer to overhear. Keep interactions polite and work-appropriate, without exception. This is great advice across all social networks, by the way. If you don’t block strangers from following your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other profiles, make sure that that’s because there’s nothing there that an employer would find objectionable. If there is, be sure to change things accordingly.