Ask Dr. Job’s chief contributor, Sandra Pesmen, is a member of the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame and author of “DR. JOB’s Complete Career Guide.”

Winner of several journalism awards, Pesmen is a graduate of the University of Illinois Media College at Urbana, and is listed in several Who’s Who editions. She also has been Corporate Features Editor of Crain Communications Inc., founding Features Editor of Crain’s Chicago Business and a reporter/features writer for The Chicago Daily News.

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Job Search Requires Social Network

Like it or not, you must become involved with social media if you hope to have faster responses to your job inquiries.

If you use it effectively it can give your search a big boost-but ignore or misuse it at your own peril, for that will leave you out in the cold for a long time.

LinkedIn especially is becoming the most important job-search must; yet many job seekers, and even users, haven't figured out how to maximize its benefits.

To help you do that, social media strategy consultant Neal Schaffer wrote Maximize Your Social: A One-Stop Guide to Building a Social Media Strategy for Marketing and Business Success.

 Here are some of his tips for creating your LinkedIn profile:

Must-have # 1: A serious photo. You should always have a professional picture represent you. In other words, wear office-appropriate attire and avoid distracting backgrounds. And no cocktail-in-hand photos or on-the-beach vacation shots.

Must-have # 2: A professional name. Trawl LinkedIn for a little while, and you'll probably come across individuals, who use keywords, or even worse, phone numbers and email addresses, as part of their names.

Must-have # 3: A headline that reinforces your professional brand. Speaking of areas to differentiate yourself, says Schaffer, look no further than your Professional Headline; in other words, the 110 characters that appear prominently just under your name both on your profile and, more importantly, on search results. You don't need to put here that you are TITLE at COMPANY NAME-viewers can see that in your profile. 

 Must-have # 4: An optimized location. On LinkedIn, it's sometimes best for your stated location not to match your physical one. Yes, this sounds counterintuitive, but it's important to put yourself in the shoes of your target visitor. 

Must-have # 5: An optimized industry. Much like optimizing your location, think about what the people with whom you're trying to connect might type into the "Industry" field during a search. This can be tough, admits Schaffer, because even individuals who work at the same company might list different industries here. 

Must-have # 6: A customized profile URL. LinkedIn provides you with a default URL that you can-and should-customize. 

Must-have # 7: Strong status updates. Posting constant updates about our lives has become a common part of our culture, whether it's through Facebook, Twitter, a photo on Instagram, or something else. But as you probably suspect, your LinkedIn updates shouldn't reflect your political opinions, announce your child's achievements, or comment on the latest reality TV twist. For that reason, many users simply skip status updates altogether. However, says Schaffer, that's a mistake too?

Must-have # 8: A compelling Professional Summary. If done effectively, one of the most time-consuming items on this checklist will be writing a well-crafted and branded Professional Summary. But don't worry-the effort will be worth it.

Must-have # 9: A window into your past. Your LinkedIn Profile is about helping you get found. It is an Inbound Marketing tool. That's why it's important to connect the dots with your past: so that as many people as possible can find you-and so that you can find them. 
Must-have # 10: Valuable keywords. Many LinkedIn users a) haven't leveraged keywords enough or b) have overstuffed their profiles with keywords to the point of meaninglessness. 

Must-have # 11: Credibility-enhancing recommendations. With all of the quid pro quo recommendations you see out there, many people wonder whether LinkedIn recommendations should be taken seriously. Yes, very much so-because they can help you establish credibility if someone viewing your profile doesn't know you. 

Must-have # 12: Well-managed endorsements. Of all the features that LinkedIn has released, endorsements are the one that have stirred the most controversy in the professional community. Schaffer recommends that you ignore that controversy and utilize whatever functionality LinkedIn provides you. For instance, some believe that endorsements might affect how you appear in LinkedIn search results.

Must-have # 13: Crated visuals. LinkedIn gives you the ability to upload contents from a link (presentations from SlideShare or Prezi, videos from YouTube or Vimeo, and documents from Scribd are all supported) or directly from your computer (in addition to images, PDF, Word, and PowerPoint presentations are supported). If you've ever been interviewed or had your picture taken at a professional event, this is your chance to promote yourself by adding these visual elements. 

Must-have # 14: Clear contact information. Don't make it hard for other users to contact you: If they can't easily get in touch, they might just move on to the next person! Remember, if you're a third degree connection or beyond, many people won't go through the hassle of sending a high-risk introduction or buying an InMail in order to initiate a conversation. 

Must-have # 15: Membership in relevant Groups. According to Schaffer, joining LinkedIn Groups is about enhancing your contactability. Joining the same Group allows others to contact you using the Group messaging feature. So, which LinkedIn Groups should you become part of? # # #

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