LinkedIn is major for almost every industry, many law enforcement officers don’t spend much time on linked in though. That is, unless they are part of the brass. Having a strong presence on LinkedIn can be a great tool for professional development. It can get you noticed by other agencies, help network with other officers, and aid you in finding the job that is right for you.
Let’s take a look at how you can properly use LinkedIn to benefit you.
Complete A Full Profile
The first step to any LinkedIn account is to have a complete profile. Start with your name and work your way down the profile. Fill out as much of the information as you possibly can. A stronger profile means that you look more professional, people can find out more about you, and you can even remember different parts of your career over the years. It can be hard to remember specific dates, I have found myself looking at my LinkedIn before.
LinkedIn has a great tool to help you fill out your profile. It changes names occasionally but right now it is Strengthen Your Profile and is found at the top of your profile when you view your own profile. This will help find areas where your LinkedIn page might be lacking.
A general rule of thumb is to treat your LinkedIn page like an enhanced resume. Keep it professional yet creative and inspirational. The main difference, is that your LinkedIn typically contains far more information than a regular resume.
Craft A Noticeable Headline
An important part of your profile is a headline. This is the part of the profile where you let people know what specifically you are doing with your career. A lot of people, I’ll admit I am one of these people, have just their title in their headline. I do this because I also have my freelancing mentioned in the title. Having just your title doesn’t let those looking to network or hire know anything about what you want to be known for.
Many LinkedIn Professionals recommend that you have more than simply your title. Include what you are best known for or focus on in the headline. For example, if you want to focus on community policing, make your header: Patrol Officer – Community Policing. Similarly add any other specializations or focuses you might have into that.
Do not make your headline too long. A lengthy headline makes people turn away from it. A general rule of thumb is to keep it down to no more than ten words but definitely do not let it go longer than one line when it is displayed on your profile.
A Profile Picture
When completing a LinkedIn profile, having a profile picture is a must. This picture shows that the profile isn’t fake and works as a way for people to see a more personal side of you. It also is a matter of professionalism. A photo makes the page look more professional.
Some people feel the need to have an image other than themselves as their profile picture. Unless your profile page is for a business, this won’t work. It appears unprofessional, odd, or otherwise might raise flags for potential employers.
What do you want your profile picture to be then? You don’t want your profile picture to be a hard core, straight-faced look and you also don’t want it be completely relaxed. Instead, you want to aim for somewhere in between. You want to appear to be someone who is approachable and friendly but at the same time professional.
It may seem difficult but in a simple way to think about it, is that you want a picture of what you would look like when you are on duty. Which for me, is someone who is friendly and approachable but can handle business when needed to.
Utilize The Articles Feature
Some of the people who get noticed the most on LinkedIn are those who utilize the article feature. This is where you can write professional articles and post them on LinkedIn. They will show up in both the LinkedIn Search and Google Search so other people can read professional content from you.
When you go to write articles you want them to be professional but you also want them to be helpful. They should provide news, tips, or other such information that users might want to read. Try to add a photograph or image to your articles to help draw attention and make them more interesting. This will help to bring more people to your page.
People who really want to get noticed will add keywords into their profiles. These words are those that are searched for specifically. We aren’t just talking patrol officer or NYPD. Keywords are things like “community policing expert” or “law enforcement public relations”. If you really want to be noticed, come up with keywords for your experience and target audience and work them into your profile.
Don’t forget to add keywords to your articles too. But one thing to keep in mind is that you want to work these in naturally. If they feel forced, that will turn many viewers of your profile away.
Creating a LinkedIn profile that captures who you are can be one of the best self-marketing tools out there. You can bring attention to yourself as an officer but also network and bring in job offers. I have had a couple of interview requests through LinkedIn but my profile is by no means a perfect example. I am always looking to fine tune it. Good luck on creating the profile that captures your essence!
About the author:
Ian graduated Seattle University with a Bachelor's in Criminal Justice with a Specialization in Administration of Justice. He has held positions as an Auxiliary Department of Public Safety Officer, a Security Patrol Supervisor, and as an in-house security officer for a major medical center. Through all of this he has picked up a wealth of experience, training, and education that he is happy to pass on to others. Ian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Did you just get a job as a law enforcement officer or are you trying to get one?
Law enforcement is a very rewarding career, one that can enhance your life and benefit you greatly. Preparing for a job in law enforcement shares some similarities to other careers. At the same time it has unique challenges to overcome.
Let’s take a moment to examine how you can prepare for a job as a law enforcement officer.