Recruiters, businesses, and job seekers alike know that LinkedIn is a valuable, increasingly necessary resource. Like any resource, however, LinkedIn only works when it's leveraged correctly. "There's a right way to use LinkedIn and a wrong way," says Source One's Supply Chain recruiter Andrew Jones. The line between the two, he remarks, could make the difference between finding a great opportunity or alienating yourself from future employers. Here are some guidelines informed by Jones' time in the recruiting space.

Do: Include a short, descriptive summary
"In all likelihood," Jones says, "recruiters and hiring managers will see your LinkedIn profile before they've seen an official resume." Digital first impressions have become a new normal, and that's not going to change anytime soon. That's why Jones advises candidates to supplement their profiles with an introductory statement that might not fit on a more traditional resume. This statement should provide a quick overview of your experiences, expertise, and interests. It's especially useful for passive job seekers who are hoping to turn up in a recruiter's search results.

Don't: Treat LinkedIn like Facebook
It's no secret that the lines between personal and professional life have blurred over the years. For better and worse, social media has had a lot to do with this phenomenon. On the positive side of things, LinkedIn makes it easier than ever to stay connected with peers and identify new opportunities. Unfortunately, the site's mix of social and professional networking sends some users down a dangerous path. "Anything overly personal would strike me as a red flag," says Jones. Using LinkedIn feeds like Facebook walls, he suggests, doesn't send the message that a candidate is "always on." More often, it paints them as totally unprofessional. In today's climate, many professionals even feel inclined to make political arguments on their LinkedIn feed. Jones suggests these folks should save their hot takes for a personal blog. LinkedIn also differs from Facebook in the sort of images that are appropriate. Photos from a recent vacation are no substitute for a professional headshot.

Do: Stay Active 
While Jones wouldn't advise anyone to send out daily updates, he encourages everyone to take advantage of LinkedIn's full potential. It's not enough to just keep a personal profile up to date. Jones also looks out for candidates who contribute and share thoughtful articles while also joining the discussions in industry groups. "Active participation," Jones says, "gives me a sense of a candidate's personality as well their subject matter expertise. It suggests they're interested in building a professional biography and engaging with their peers." Both are almost always a plus.

Don't: Embellish 
"We've all probably done it," Jones acknowledges, "but that doesn't make it acceptable." Fudging the facts on your LinkedIn profile is just as dubious as doing it on a more official document. If a recruiter or hiring manager is doing their job, they'll expect you to provide evidence of any skills you claim and a link to any relevant certifications. And remember, "endorsements" from friends, family members, and former classmates won't do you any good. No matter how compelling its language, no endorsement will supplant the need to walk the walk once you've accepted an offer.

Want more tips for standing out as a candidate in Procurement and Supply Chain Management? Check out some of Jones' appearances on the Source One Podcast.
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