As the year winds down, right before the crazy busy holiday season, the time is ripe to reflect makeover of your professional image.
You’ve accomplished things in 2013. You’ve got things you want to accomplish in 2014.
A good place to start is LinkedIn. LinkedIn is constantly adding new features to help you get the most out of it, not just for job hunting but also for other kinds of professional development.
If your profile is simply a recreation of your paper resume, then you are missing out.
If there are easy ways to beef up your profile, such as adding information to the jobs you've already listed, LinkedIn has an automated editing tool that can help.
Login. Click on Profile and then on 'Improve Your Profile.' You'll be walked through it all.
Most people use the top of the LinkedIn profile to state their name and their job title.
But you can use that space to 'write a headline' for yourself that gives people a better idea of who you are and what you do.
A picture truly is worth a 1,000 words, especially when it comes to showcasing your work.
LinkedIn lets you add photos, videos and slideshow presentations to your profile summary. So instead of just talking about your work, you can show examples. Or show yourself in action. Or share a presentation.
Click 'Edit profile' scroll down to your summary, then click on the box symbol, then 'add file.'
While you're working on your summary, update the words, too. What's the biggest accomplishment you had in 2013? The Summary section is the place to tell folks about that or anything else you want to say about yourself.
And if you haven't filled out a summary at all ... write one.
Is your profile filled with old buzzwords? They make you sound out of touch. So wipe them out.
According to LinkedIn they are: creative, organizational, effective, extensive experience, track record, motivated, innovative, problem solving, communication skills, dynamic.
Other buzzwords to avoid include: results oriented, team player, self-starter, multitasking.
Most of them are adjectives trying to describe you. Instead use action words -- preferably verbs -- that show your accomplishments. Here's a good list of them from Money Zine.
Your profile can be found via search engines like Google and Bing. If you are getting too many people approaching you via LinkedIn, you might want to change that. But if you are job hunting, recruiting, using LinkedIn for selling, you might want to make yourself more visible.
Go to your profile page, and click on the arrow next to Edit Profile. Then click on Manage Public Profile Settings and adjust your visibility to suit your needs.
Let LinkedIn do the job hunting work for you by using an 'advanced search.' This lets you look for keywords and then sends you an email when new jobs come up.
Click on 'Advanced search,' then select 'Jobs' in the left-hand corner. Enter your keywords and other criteria. Then hit 'Save search' in the upper right corner. Select if you want an email alert daily, weekly, monthly and click on the check mark to save.
What you do out of the office says as much about you as anything else.
Think over your year and update your volunteer info with the new stuff you did. LinkedIn also added new sections that let you highlight causes you care about and organisations you support. Find this section by clicking on 'edit profile' and scroll down.
And if you didn't volunteer at all in 2013, consider giving it a try over the holiday season or in 2014. Start by looking through VolunteerMatch.org.
The Skills section is one of the ways recruiters find you. LinkedIn used to have a service called Skill Search to help you find exactly the right word to use but they took it down and replaced it with Endorsements. As more people endorse you for a skill, that skill shows higher in your list.
New skills that haven't gotten many (or any) endorsement still show up, so it's worthwhile to update your skills list from time to time.
Don't forget about the skills you've used volunteering too. Just make sure you've filled out the volunteer section to explain that skill.
Skills these days have become all about Endorsements. You can give a thumbs-up to the exceptional people in your network and other people can give a thumbs up to you.
Scroll down to the bottom of your page. See any faces by your list of skills? Those are the people who endorsed you. When you see those faces it feels, good doesn't it?
A year ago, LinkedIn added a feature that lets you follow executive 'influencers.' These are columns written by people like Virgin Group's Richard Branson, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates (even Business Insider's Henry Blodget).
Since then, the number of people writing columns for LinkedIn has grown a lot.
They often have insightful things to say. Follow and their posts will show up on your home screen.
Most people only beef up their recommendations when they go job hunting. But a bunch of new recommendations, especially from friends, are easy for recruiters to spot and ignore.
Lists of recommendations that span months or even years are more impressive. A good word from execs in your industry or at your company are the best, recruiters say.
There's a feature in LinkedIn that let's you ask multiple people for recommendations. Go to your profile, hover your mouse over the arrow next to 'Edit profile' then click on 'Ask to be recommended.'
You may have joined a few groups at some point that you never pay attention to anymore. Clear out the old groups and try some new ones.
Groups can be one of the best ways to expand your network. Having a group in common gives you a good way to break the ice with helpful professional contacts.
You can post your thoughts, links to articles and other stuff on your main LinkedIn page to share them with your network (Facebook style).
While LinkedIn killed the support of hashtags this year (they no longer bring up a list of related topics), you can still link to people in your network or companies.
Start typing the person or company's name and then select it when it appears in a drop down list (just like Facebook).
Even if you love your job, it can't hurt to look, particularly if your dream job is still out there.
Where could you see yourself working? When you follow a company on LinkedIn, you can learn about job openings and make yourself seen by commenting on news in the company's activity stream.
Look under your picture. If the URL listed there is a series of random letters or numbers, edit it to use your name.
Once you customise your URL, it makes it a lot easier to share it on your business cards and your resume.
Nothing says fresh like a new photo. Although your LinkedIn photo should be professional, there's no reason to make it a stiff, boring head shot. Pick a snapshot that looks great, fun, intriguing even.
Think: not blurry, not a group shot, not a pic with your girlfriend/boyfriend, or you wearing something you can't wear to work ... you get the idea.