This past summer, I was watching my husband update his LinkedIn profile, and I wondered — as a teacher, should I have a LinkedIn profile?
I’m not actively looking for a job, and I wondered, would there be professional value? Are other teachers using LinkedIn? Do teachers looking for a job use LinkedIn? So I did some research, created a LinkedIn profile myself, and want to share some of what I learned through the process.
What is LinkedIn?
LinkedIn is a social networking site that allows users to make professional connections, post resume information, search for jobs, find job-related articles, and more.
What are the benefits of teachers creating a LinkedIn profile?
- Networking — Connect with fellow colleagues, college friends, family members and more. It’s neat to see what others are doing professionally. And, who knows, those connections might lead to an opportunity that you never expected!
- Professional articles — On LinkedIn, you can subscribe to interests, and share/link articles that relate to education OR to other professional interests you have (think: side hustles or hobbies).
- Positive online presence — We live in a world where marketing yourself matters, and LinkedIn is a way to positively boost your online persona. If employers or students or parents or anyone else stumble upon your LinkedIn profile, it’s a chance for them to sit back and say, “Wow–this teacher has a lot of experience.”
- Real-time accomplishment updates — A LinkedIn profile is a living document. It’s a way for teachers to continually add in professional training, continuing education credits, job changes, references, and more. Instead of only dusting off your resume when you look for a new job, a LinkedIn profile encourages you to list your accomplishments more frequently.
- Professional self-esteem boost — As you list those accomplishments, you might sit back and be the one saying, “Wow — I have a lot of experience!” Your LinkedIn profile is a great reminder of the work and training we put in as teachers.
How does a LinkedIn profile compare to a resume?
Your LinkedIn profile is like a living, breathing resume — hosted online. Whereas a traditional resume is housed on a static document that you might upload to a job application or email to a prospective employer, your LinkedIn profile allows others to see your resume at any time. While the extent of your profile’s access will depend on your profile settings, ultimately people could potentially see your resume information without you sending or uploading it to a specific person or specific link.
And, while a resume can become out-of-date if you aren’t actively applying for teaching jobs, having an active LinkedIn presence encourages you to continually add to your profile.
What are some best practices for educators who create a LinkedIn profile?
- Professional profile picture — If it’s decent, you can use your school’s headshot, or you could pay for a professional headshot. The bottom line: Make sure your picture is professional — this is not time to penny-pinch a upload grainy or overly casual selfie.
- Strong summary statement — Take time to write a solid summary statement that captures who you are professionally. Peruse some of your contacts’ statements, both in and out of the education industry. Get ideas, look at models, and start crafting your own.
- Consistent updates — If you create a LinkedIn profile, you should consistently update it–set reminders on your phone, if needed!
- Connections with colleagues, friends, and family — LinkedIn is a professional networking site, so strive to make and accept connections.
- Choosing interests and following hashtags — Choosing interests allow you to stay up-to-date on organizations and companies you are interested in, and following certain hashtags allow you to find articles, job opportunities, etc. that interest you
- Reading articles — Peruse your newsfeed periodically to find and read articles related to education. While you can find similar articles on Twitter or Facebook, LinkedIn can be another great source for professional reading.
How often should teachers update their LinkedIn profiles?
You ideally should check in regularly to your LinkedIn profile so that it doesn’t appear outdated. The idea of “regularly” will vary from person-to-person and industry-to-industry, but for teachers, I would argue that three times a year would be a great starting point for updating your profile: At the end of the summer, at the end of semester one, and at the end of the school year.
You could, of course, update your profile more frequently than that — but for busy teachers, who might be daunted by that thought, might want to start on the three-times-a-year side of the spectrum.
Can a LinkedIn profile take the place of a teaching portfolio?
I would argue that yes, in many places, a LinkedIn profile can replace a teaching portfolio. Honestly, I have seen only one teaching portfolio at the high school level in the past five years of interviews that I’ve sat in on–so I question the portfolio’s necessity at all.
It is more likely that the interview team will Google a potential new hire, and if so, a strong LinkedIn profile would set the tone for a positive impression of that teacher.
As always, ask around the area you are interviewing in to see what the expectations are for teaching portfolios or work samples.
LinkedIn should absolutely be a tool that educators use and explore. You might be surprised at the connections you make, the doors that are opened, and the knowledge you can gain by using this social media tool. Even if you aren’t looking for a job, you might find a nice professional boost by uploading your profile — I’d encourage all teachers to try it out.
I’d love to hear your experience with using LinkedIn as an educator? Have you used it as you looked for a new job? Have you used it as you evaluated a potential hire? Do you love LinkedIn or hate it? Or fall somewhere in between? Share your comments below!