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Not just for recent grads: Why nurses need LinkedIn and how to use it

3. LinkedIn     • Average salary: $123,000     • Headquarters: Sunnyvale, CA     • Industry: Social media     As an employment-oriented social media platform, LinkedIn has several competitors and must set itself apart however it can. LinkedIn has positions such as site reliability engineers, product marketing managers, and user experience designers -- all essential for the platform's success -- that earn average salaries of well over $100,000 a year.     ALSO READ: Cities Where Incomes Are Growing the Fastest

The nursing profession is rich with job opportunities and set for ever-increasing growth. This abundance means nurses may be able to skip the extras like a LinkedIn profile or other networking tools and still find work. But every nurse should still create and maintain an up-to-date LinkedIn connection, to reap benefits well beyond those hundreds of thousands of nurse job openings it lists when you’re looking for your first nursing job.

"Like all professionals, it's crucial for nurses to keep their professional edge sharpened," TravelNurse Source explained. "Surprisingly, however, a lot of nurses are forgetting to capitalize on free career-boosting opportunities like cultivating an excellent LinkedIn page."

Here are the key reasons to stay linked up with LinkedIn when you’re a nurse:

You can bond with other nurses even when you're not looking for work. "Making connections on LinkedIn will lead to more connections, and more connections can lead to more opportunities," registered nurse Keith Carlson explained on the Nurse.org blog. "Building a robust professional network is smart at any point in your nursing career. You can use LinkedIn to find your tribe of like-minded nurses and healthcare professionals."

Since LinkedIn has more than 400 million users total, Carlson said, "the potential for making positive connections with like-minded professionals is high. Nurses can use LinkedIn to strategically network with other nurses and healthcare colleagues. LinkedIn groups are highly useful forums for getting your questions answered and meeting other nurses with similar interests."

You have the inside scoop on present and future employers. "If you're a nurse planning to move to another city or state and find a job quickly, LinkedIn's search function can help you find local healthcare professionals who may shed light on employers and facilities you're interested in," Carlson explained.

You're ready to roll with life changes. If you keep the experience portion of your LinkedIn profile updated, you can readily engage with any quick-breaking opportunities, from travel nurse jobs and new local nursing organizations to opportunities for speakers or committees. "One difference between your resume and your LinkedIn profile is that you can say a lot more since you have no limits on space," Carlson noted. "Feel free to add more meat to the bones of the descriptions of your work experience and your areas of expertise and accomplishment. If you've participated in research, held a seat on a committee, or otherwise been involved at work, make sure to describe your position and what was achieved by both you and the group."

Hacks for building the best nurse LinkedIn profile

Especially if you haven't touched your LinkedIn profile since before 2017, when the company redesigned its layout and expanded the functions, you should investigate whether your profile needs an update.

Start with the "notifications" function, recommended the Eisenhower Health career blog, since LinkedIn automatically alerts all your connections each time you make a change to your profile. "That's helpful when your profile is complete or you've gotten a new job or promotion, but not so much when you're in the middle of making changes," EH emphasized. "No one needs or wants to see anything less than a completed, well-executed profile. Turn off notifications until you've perfected your profile. Just don't forget to turn them back on when you're ready to share it across your network."

Also, spend some time posting or revamping your profile photo. "Simply having a profile photo results in up to 21 times more profile views and nine times more connection requests," according to LinkedIn. The network has included photo editing and six photo filters since 2017.

Just remember you have different goals on LinkedIn than you do with social media like Facebook, Eisenhower Health added. "This is not the place for a vacation selfie or glamour shot. Instead, invest in a professional portrait," it recommended. "You can use your smartphone in a pinch, but be careful to ensure the result is professional and puts you in a good light, literally. Experts recommend natural lighting and simple, neutral backgrounds. Prospective employers want to see you, after all, not where you are." And get a friend to help. That way, EH added, "you'll avoid awkward head or shoulder angles that scream selfie, plus you'll get a critical set of eyes to watch for stray hairs or ties or jewelry that have gone askew."

And once you've gotten a great LinkedIn profile going, make sure everyone can see it, TravelNurse Source advised. "Make your page public to use for your resume," TNS recommended. "When you have a great LinkedIn profile, you absolutely should make it a public URL so that you can put the address on your resume. If you have a lot of recommendations, experience, and endorsements; it can really add a lot to your chances of landing a job."

It’s beneficial to customize that URL, too, but be professional, TNS added. “Stray away from one such as ‘www.linkedin.com/bbygrl1988.’”

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