The first thing I look at when someone applies for an engineering job is their LinkedIn profile. Even before I look at their resume. To me, there are two big benefits to going straight to LinkedIn:
- I can easily see how we’re connected. Do we know people in common? Maybe you used to work somewhere I used to work. Maybe you met someone I know in a user group. This connection could tell me what you’re really capable of, even if you aren’t good at selling yourself.
- It’s in a standard format. You can customize your profile page a little, but for the most part they all look the same. I know where to find your experience and education without thinking. It’s easy to quickly scan the page and get a sense of where you’ve been.
The first section is called the intro. As I said in my post about your GitHub profile, put a current, recognizable picture of yourself here. Next, add a headline consisting of your current job title and employer.
If you aren’t currently working, or aren’t working in technology, I would be a little more creative here. Are you doing any freelance work, writing, or teaching? If nothing else, write something like “Aspiring Software Engineer.”
Finally, add your summary. This is basically your elevator pitch. Think of one or two sentences that quickly tell an employer what you can do.
Experience & Education
The experience section can be a challenge for someone seeking their first coding job. How can you list experience when you don’t have any? Obviously, you can’t. If you’re currently working outside of the technology world, you should list your job. Even if it’s barista at Starbucks.
Once you land your first technical job remove your earlier experience, unless you can make a compelling case for how it might make you more attractive to a future employer. For example, if you had management experience in a previous, non-technical job, you might want to keep that on your profile.
Include a few sentences or bullet points describing what you accomplished at each of your previous jobs. If you aren’t sure what to write or how to word your accomplishments, try looking at job postings for similar jobs. Recruiters work hard getting the wording just right on their postings. Reuse their work.
You can also add volunteer experience in this section. Many organizations need help building or updating their web site. You can also volunteer to teach coding or other skills in your free time. Code.org is always looking for programmers to volunteer to teach coding to kids in the classroom.
The education section should be straight-forward. If you have a college degree, list it here along with your major field of study. Similarly, if you attended a coding bootcamp, list it here. You can also include relevant online courses such as those at Udemy,Coursera, or freeCodeCamp.
Skills & Endorsements
List skills such as programming languages and frameworks, industry knowledge, and interpersonal skills in this section. If you have demonstrated these skills to other people, ask them to endorse you. An endorsement from someone tells me that you truly have the listed skill.
Personal recommendations can be hard to get. Give recommendations and hope that the recipient will recommend you in turn. I would also directly ask for recommendations from managers and coworkers. Just be aware that asking for a recommendation on LinkedIn can be interpreted as a sign that you’re looking for a new job.
Use the accomplishments section to highlight things like publications you’ve written, awards you’ve earned, or special projects you’ve completed. This can be a great way to fill out your profile if you don’t have a lot of experience yet. Also, include any foreign languages you speak here.