Statement on August 2016 Unemployment Rate

For Immediate Release

Sept. 20, 2016

DEW Executive Director Cheryl Stanton’s Statement

August 2016 Employment Statement

“South Carolina’s economy continued its robust growth in August as the state’s unemployment rate fell to the lowest level since May 2001. When businesses decide to expand or locate here, they are showing confidence that a pool of skilled workers is available,” said Cheryl Stanton, executive director of the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce. “In the last year, more than 54,000 people have found work and are again providing for themselves. However, we still have work to do in finding jobs for the 117,000 unemployed.”

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About SCDEW

The South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce is putting South Carolinians to work. The agency invests in building a pipeline of quality workers, matches workers with jobs, and is a bridge for individuals who find themselves out of work for no fault of their own. This promotes financial stability and economic prosperity for employers, individuals and communities. SCDEW is dedicated to advancing South Carolina through services that meet the needs of the state’s businesses, jobseekers and those looking to advance their careers.

Employment Situation for August 2016

For Immediate Release

Sept. 20, 2016

 

South Carolina’s Employment Situation August 2016

 Unemployment Rate Falls to 5.1 Percent,

Fourth Consecutive Monthly Drop

South Carolina’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped for the fourth consecutive month to 5.1 percent in August from 5.2 percent in July.

Unemployment fell by 3,856 people to 116,998. Employment also decreased by 2,009 to 2,180,876. This resulted in a decline in the labor force of 5,865 to 2,297,874. Since August 2015, employment has increased by 54,553 along with an increase of 45,086 for the labor force. Unemployment fell by 9,467.

Nationally, the unemployment rate remained the same from July to August at 4.9 percent.

Nonfarm Employment by Industry (Seasonally Adjusted1)

Seasonally adjusted, nonfarm payroll employment in August increased by 5,700 over the month to a record high level of 2,060,800.

 Industries experiencing employment increases were Education and Health Services (+2,600); Trade, Transportation, and Utilities (+1,400); Other Services (+900); Manufacturing (+400); Information (+300); Construction (+200); Financial Activities (+200); and Professional and Business Services (+100). Government employment remained the same, and Leisure and Hospitality (-400) noted a decline.

Compared to August 2015, seasonally adjusted, nonfarm employment increased 50,500 with upswings in Professional and Business Services (+13,100); Education and Health Services (+11,200); Government (+8,800); Construction (+5,400); Trade, Transportation, and Utilities (+4,500); Financial Activities (+3,700); Leisure and Hospitality (+2,100); Manufacturing (+2,000); and Other Services (+300). Information (-700) saw a dip in payroll.

Nonfarm Employment by Industry (Not Seasonally Adjusted2)

From July to August, not seasonally adjusted, nonfarm payroll employment tallied an increase of 1,600 to a level of 2,056,600. Historically, employment experiences growth during August as schools gear up for the fall semester. The rise was due to increases in Education and Health Services (+3,300); Government (+2,000); Other Services (+900); and Financial Activities (+100). Losses occurred in Leisure and Hospitality (-2,500); Professional and Business Services (-1,300); and Construction (-900). There was no movement in Mining and Logging; Manufacturing; Trade, Transportation, and Utilities; and Information during the month of August.

Year over year, not seasonally adjusted, nonfarm jobs improved (+43,700) with growth in Professional and Business Services (+12,600); Education and Health Services (+9,400); Government (+5,300); Construction (+5,200); Trade, Transportation, and Utilities (+3,900); Financial Activities (+2,800); Leisure and Hospitality (+2,600); Manufacturing (+2,200); Mining and Logging (+100); and Other Services (+100). Information (-500) fell slightly.

 

1Seasonally Adjusted: Seasonal adjustment removes the effects of events that follow a more or less regular pattern each year (i.e. tourist-related hiring and school closings in the summer). These adjustments make it easier to observe the cyclical and other nonseasonal movements in data over time.

 

2Not Seasonally Adjusted: Effects of regular or seasonal patterns have not been removed from these data.

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What Not to Wear: Interview Edition

what-not-to-wear

bob

 

Job interviews are a big deal. Knowing what to wear to one is an even bigger deal. Many employers create a perception about you the minute that you walk through the door, so dressing for career success is very important. While something might be fine to wear once you already have a job, it might not be the first impression statement you want to make on a potential employer.

When it comes to dressing for an interview there are many obvious and not-so-obvious clothing choices, but some statements to steer clear of might be pretty subtle. So DEW staff went to their closets to help distinguish what trends, fashion statements and outfits you should stray away from when going to a job interview.

mens-shorts

Even if you are applying for a position within a workplace that is considered laid-back, overly casual clothes can be ill-perceived as lazy. Shorts, shirts or other pieces of clothing with name brands written across the chest, hats, etc. are all things that you should choose not to wear to your interview.

Upon first glance, this outfit might actually seem okay, and for the most part it is. She has closed-toe shoes, black slacks and a black blazer on, which are all great articles of clothing tshirtto wear to an interview. What doesn’t work for this outfit is the green t-shirt. Even by trying to dress it up, it is too casual. Instead pair the great outfit with a nice blouse.

 

 

 

 

Have you ever heard the saying, “too mpearlsuch of a good thing?” This outfit would be a great choice for an interview if she had chosen to wear just one strand of pearls. While layering pieces is a big trend right now, an overabundance of any kind of jewelry makes for a distracting statement. Your potential employer may be inclined to pay more attention to your accessories than what you are saying in your interview. Also be careful not to choose jewelry that is too flashy. A good rule of thumb is to choose a simple stud earring. If adding more jewelry is appropriate with the outfit you have chosen to wear, pair the simple earrings with an equally simple necklace OR bracelet, not both.

tie

Novelty clothing is fun, and can be a way that you like to show your personality. Ties that have Fourth of July fireworks or Santa Claus, or shirts that designed with camo or have fun designs on them might be something that you refrain from wearing in an interview.

What you should choose to wear instead is a solid button-up dress shirt. Great colors to pick are white or a light blue camodepending on the suit color, which includes dress pants, a jacket and button-up shirt. If you do decide to go with a tie that has design on it, make sure that it is subtle like stripes or even something that looks like the tie pictured. Just remember that not every tie goes with every shirt. The color of your tie should also complement the other colors of your outfit.

shoesLike clothing, shoes have to be carefully chosen for an interview. Great examples of a too casual shoe are tennis shoes and even Sperry’s.

For men, a nice business shoe that goes with the color of your suit is the most appropriate choice.

As a woman, refrain from wearing shoes that are more appropriate for the weekend or evening than they are for the office. You may have some interview jitters, and the last thing you should worry about is whether or not you are going to trip in shoes like the ones pictured. Some tips when choosing shoes for your interview outfit are:

  • your shoes should be closed-toe.
  • nude and black colored shoes are the two best colors.
  • you can wear flats or heels, but if you choose heels, find a pair that is only about two inches tall.

 

 

What about pants? Trends come and go, leggingsbut leggings have stuck around for a while. Some people try to make them interview appropriate by pairing them with a nice blouse or shirt, but that doesn’t mean they work. If you are going to wear pants, wear a nice pair of slacks.

 

 

 

colored-pants

For men and women alike, colored pants are something you should not choose to wear to an interview. Like many other pieces of clothing in this article, they are a bit too flashy. You should choose pants that are blue, black or grey because these colors convey confidence and are not distracting.

 

Women’s fashion is ever dressy-pantsevolving because – who wants to wear dull clothing? Certainly not these ladies in the pants that DEW refers to as ‘fancy pants’. While they are a bit dressier than jeans, they aren’t dressy enough for an interview. Any kind of designed pants should be left at home on the hanger, at least while you are in your interview.

 

These are just a few of the more common of the items shouldn’t be worn to an interview. Some things to think about when you are trying to pick out your outfit are:

  • Blues, black and greys are the best colors because they are conservative in what should be a conservative environment. The website Style Caster wrote an article about what the colors that you wear to an interview can mean to an employer. Check it out here.
  • Now that you know what not to wear, you are probably wondering what you should wear. Go to The Balance where they have written Interview outfits for Women and Interview outfits for Men and offer even more advice about style tips for your next interview.
  • If you have to ask yourself, “Is this appropriate?” just go ahead and change clothes so that your attention isn’t anywhere but the interview.

If you are in need of business attire there are plenty of places that you can go to find great deals. Most times you can find great business casual clothing at local consignment shops, and this includes Goodwill. If you do choose to shop with Goodwill, every purchase goes toward providing workforce programs and services to those in need. You can learn more about those programs and services here.

Ultimately our goal is to get all South Carolinians back to work, and that starts with the first impression. Make it a great one.

 

The 10 most important things you can do to stand out at a job fair

 

Get ready for job fair

Attending a job fair is a great way to have several mini-interviews and expose yourself and your capabilities to several companies in a few hours’ time. However, not properly preparing could result in wasting your day and networking opportunities, or even worse, making a bad impression on potential employers.

Here are 10 things you can do to ensure you are prepared for success:

  1. Make sure that your resume and cover letter are up to date.

You never want to get to a job fair and realize that you left off key information, like a volunteering experience or your last job. Take the time to sit down and go over your resume and cover letter thoroughly so that when it comes time to hand it to the recruiting manager, you feel confident. If you need assistance writing your resume and/or cover letter, all of our SC Works centers provide one-on-one assistance and many provide a free resume workshop. To find the nearest SC Works office and view their workshop calendar, click here.

  1. Find out what companies are going to be at the event.

You want to know who will be at the event for a couple of reasons. First, you should check out their mission statement and their values to see if they correspond with your own set of beliefs. Second, take a look at the company’s portfolio and figure out what kind of business they do. If it doesn’t interest you then don’t go to their table so that you can maximize your time with the companies that do interest you.

If there is a company in which you have a particular interest, take another look at your resume. Are there skills or experience that you might want to highlight or discuss in more detail which the company would find interesting? Think about ways that you resume might be customized to align with the company’s mission. Have these versions of your resume in a separate file and take a minute before you visit their booth to locate the personalized resume so you aren’t fumbling for it when are with the recruiter.

  1. Have a couple of questions ready for the recruiter.

Don’t ask the questions that are easily available to you online like when the company was founded, where the corporate office is or the name of the CEO. Instead ask about a project or initiative that the company is working on or ask the recruiting manager about the company climate and their favorite thing about working there. Being engaged with what is going on with the company is a great way to stand out.

  1. Dress to impress.

Did you know that dressing up improves your confidence according to a Forbes article written by clinical psychologist Dr. Jennifer Baumgartner? Take the ten extra minutes to iron your pants, find a great tie or pair of shoes; it’s a sure-fire way to impress the recruiter.

  1. Remember the key successes to a great interview.

Because a job fair is like a job interview on a speed date, the recruiter is probably going to meet more people than they can remember, so don’t forget your interview essentials so you can stay on the recruiter’s radar. A firm handshake, a friendly smile and being aware of your body language are a few helpful tips, but certainly not all of the things of which you should be mindful. For a list that details other tips, check out the Undercover Recruiter’s article Eight Essential Interview Tips by a Recruiter.

  1. Be prepared to answer questions about yourself.

Why do you want to work for our company? What is one of your major accomplishments? Tell me about a time where you had to work in a team setting? These generic questions could go on forever, and you should know the answers, but take the extra time to think a little bit more. Instead of just answering what you consider your biggest accomplishment, think about your second and third. Having more than one may shed some insight on your work ethic and your goals.

  1. Be enthusiastic.

Nothing is worse than a job candidate that is distracted and doesn’t seem as if they are excited to be speaking with the recruiter. Smile, and show the recruiter that the position really interests you and why you would be a great fit for the company. As long as you’ve done your research about the company this should be an easy answer.

  1. Remember that this is a networking opportunity.

When you meet with the different recruiters make sure to grab their business card. Ask for it if there are not cards available on the table – this shows interest. The card not only allows you to be able to reference your meeting in a cover letter, it also gives you the contact information you need to connect on LinkedIn, should you choose. (To read more about creating a LinkedIn page or making a current page more robust, check out our post How to Use LinkedIn. Additionally, if you don’t get a job with the company, you may still be able to use your connection to see if they know of anyone else hiring in the industry.

  1. Come with an elevator pitch.

What is an elevator pitch? It’s a brief thirty-second pitch about you and your skill sets. The name says it all – if you got on an elevator and someone asked you to tell them about yourself before they got off on their floor, what would you say? This statement should be unique to you because you are trying to sell yourself to a recruiter. If you want to learn more about the elevator pitch and need help trying to craft one, click here.

  1. Get your bearings.

Get to a job fair about 10 minutes early. When you get there, stop and take a couple minutes on a bench outside or in the restroom to compose yourself. Check the job fair map, if they provide one, to see where the companies you want visit are located, make sure you have everything that you need and practice your elevator speech one more time.

Job fairs and hiring events are a fantastic opportunity to make an impression on several businesses in a short amount of time and perhaps see the recruiters of companies that may be hard to get to with just a cold call, but they can be a waste of your time as well as the employers if you don’t prepare for it as thoroughly as you would a job interview. Remember – that just what it is – several job interviews in a short amount of time. Make the most of it!

Masako

Masako

Masako entered the extended program housing at Transitions Homeless Center in March of 2016. As a shelter actively engaged in moving individuals into stable and permanent housing, Transitions partners with many community organizations to provide the expertise and services that their clients need in order to enter and sustain an independent lifestyle.masako

As one of those partners, the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce works with Transitions to offer the Back to Work program; an intensive six-week employment boot camp. By providing the necessary guidance and soft skills to maintain gainful employment and self-sufficiency, the program helps individuals establish life-long independence. The combination of transitioning participants to housing as well as employment creates a comprehensive approach for long-term success.

While Masako’s journey from homelessness has certainly been a long arduous road, her journey from Transitions to employment has not. Since entering Transitions in March, she has completed the Back to Work Program, attended the Career Education & Employment Training Program offered by the Midlands Community Development Corporation, and landed a job.

Hard work and determination paid off for Masako.  She was hired as a housekeeper with Wingate Hotel Industries in Columbia in July.

Since her arrival at Transitions, everyone was taken with her kindness and friendliness, but the day she was hired was new inspiration. Masako was so grateful and excited to be employed and to have a business invest in her success that everyone was touched by her show of appreciation.

Getting a job has been a life changing event for Masako. She is enjoying working for the hotel and is now setting her sights on her next goal – finding her own place to live.

With assistance from her case managers and community partners, Masako knows that she can turn employment into independence.

A look into textiles in South Carolina

textiles in sc

Don’t tell Matt Shannon that the textile industry in South Carolina is dead or dying.

“We are here, we are strong,” said Shannon, head of Greenwood Mills weaving department. The mill is a private, family-owned textile plant that has been a fixture in the town of Greenwood for the past 127 years.

pan greenwood mills

While the industry doesn’t employ nearly the numbers it did even as recent as 2001, where the textile mills industry employed more than 52,000 people, there are still nearly 15,000 employed in mills around the state.

The textile industry is considered a legacy industry, meaning that the projected job growth of the industry is declining, but it still has a competitive advantage because of its location. Textiles place well above the national average in the Upstate region for their location quotient, the number that is determined by how influential an industry is in a certain region. You can find the report here.

However, Shannon and Greenwood Mills Human Resources Director Lisa McMillan agree that there won’t be any significant amount of change in the industry’s job growth, but it can be assumed that there will be a slight and steady increase over the coming years due to the number of companies coming back to the states coupled with the number of people expected to retire in the coming years.

“This isn’t just at our plant, but industry everywhere,” McMillan said.

As the textile industry evolved from labor intensive machinery, to water powered equipment and now to a more technology driven plant, the kinds of employees needed have evolved too. Both Shannon and McMillan said the types of people Greenwood Mills is looking to hire are people who want a career, and who are willing to start at the bottom.

“The biggest problem we face is finding qualified labor that is willing to work. A lot of people want a job, but when it comes down to actually working, they don’t want to do it,” Shannon said. “A lot of times it’s the simple things like showing up on time and doing what you’re supposed to.”

What you can expect as a new hire at Greenwood Mills are not desk jobs, but a place where everyone works on the floor in a fast-paced environment. Training for many of the positions is done in-house and the only qualifications you need are basic math and communication skills.

Shift work is a big part of the efficiency of the plant, and while everyone works on average 40 to 50 hours a week, new hires usually work the off-shift hours and gradually work up to the day shift. There are more technical positions that are needed.textile machinery

“Every new machine is more mechanized than the last, and if technology interests you, there is a job for you in the textile industry,” Shannon said.

Marketing YOU!

Marketing YOU

In today’s job market your resume and cover letter are often the first impression you make on a potential employer. Many people often wonder, “How can I stand out among others who have the same qualifications?”

The best way to approach this is to think about it from a marketing perspective. You are the brand – how do you best advertise yourself? A great guide is to use the four P’s of marketing: product, place, promotion and price. Primarily used to create a marketing plan for a product or service; they can be just as useful when trying to market yourself.

The first P is product. This particular P is recognizing that you are your own product in your job search. You must think about your skills, experiences and qualifications — they distinguish your abilities. Highlight these on your resume, and don’t be afraid to explain. For example, rather than just list a project you worked on, say what you learned or how you grew. Did you learn leadership skills, did the experience teach you how to listen to many opinions and help negotiate a compromise, did you use Excel? A brief two or three sentence explanation would suffice.

The next P is place. Do you want to work for a non-profit, in an office or maybe a retail store?  Knowing where you want to work and why you want to be there give you the vision to focus your job search, and if a potential employer asks, “Why do you see yourself working here?” you have already have a well thought out answer.

Promotion is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as, “something (such as advertising) that is done to make people aware of something and increase its sales or popularity.” This P is the most detailed and lengthy of any of the P’s because it has to be thought out and executed properly.

Margaret Buj, an interview and career acceleration coach, wrote an article called, How to Promote Yourself with Ease and Confidence, for the website Career Attraction that has five key tips to remember:

  1. Understand your audience: be mindful of who your audience is and whether or not what you have to share is relevant to them.
  2. Promote you value, not yourself: talk about specific projects you’ve worked on and the value you’ve delivered to an organization or in a team setting.
  3. Demonstrate confidence and passion: you need to show the hiring manager that you have confidence in yourself and that you know you’ll be successful in the job.
  4. Get recommendations: the people that you know are often times the best people to ask for recommendations. They also can connect you to other professionals or employers that they know are hiring.
  5. Reframe disapproval: there will always be people that disapprove of you or your work. Instead of focusing on those individuals, focus on the people that ensure your success in your career and know how talented and invaluable you are.

You should also consider social media when thinking about your own promotion. There are so many options to choose from: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit, Snapchat, etc., but one to really consider is LinkedIn.  LinkedIn is a professional social media platform that can help connect you with employers, allow you to showcase your skills and certifications and view job postings in your area. If you are not sure how to use LinkedIn or know what its benefits are, check out our latest blog post here that details how to get your professional online presence started.

Beyond the types of social media that you have, you should also be aware of the kinds of things you post, especially if your platforms are public. According to careerbuilders annual social media recruitment survey, “60 percent of employers revealed they use social networking sites to research job candidates.”

The last P to consider is price. This particular P can be tricky because you may not be in a position to negotiate your salary. If you are, it’s an easy google search to find the average salary for similar positions in your area. If you are not in a position to negotiate your salary, a more appropriate question is to ask is if there is a possibility of a pay increase and when they are granted.

Make sure to use your resources around you. If you need help writing your resume or cover letter, your nearest SC Works center will assist you one-on-one. Click here to see the statewide locations. For more tips on how to stand out in your job search according to CEO’s and professionals read The Muse’s list here.

Employment Situation for July 2016

For Immediate Release

Aug. 19, 2016

South Carolina’s Employment Situation July 2016

 Unemployment Rate Drops to 5.2 Percent,

Lowest Rate Since June 2001

South Carolina’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for July dropped to its lowest level since June 2001. The rate decreased to 5.2 percent in July from 5.4 percent in June.

Over the month, unemployment declined by 4,858 to 120,788, while employment declined by 2,430 people to 2,182,646. This resulted in a decrease in the labor force of 7,288 people to a total of 2,303,434. July’s numbers registered the third consecutive monthly decrease in the unemployment rate.

Over the year,  the unemployment rate fell 0.5 percentage points from 5.7 percent, with the number of unemployed down 8,310. The number of people employed increased by 60,603, and the labor force rose by 52,293.

Nationally, the unemployment rate remained the same from June to July at 4.9 percent.

Nonfarm Employment by Industry (Seasonally Adjusted1)

July’s seasonally adjusted, nonfarm payrolls increased by 2,700 over the month to a record level of 2,053,300.

The most prominent increases were in Professional and Business Services (+2,300) and Government (+2,100). Growth was also reported in Leisure and Hospitality (+800); Education and Health Services (+400); and Financial Activities (+100). The industries marking declines included Manufacturing (-1,000); Construction (-900); Trade, Transportation, and Utilities (-500); Other Services (-400); and Information (-200).

This month’s seasonally adjusted, nonfarm jobs were up by 46,100 compared to July 2015. Upswings in employment were recorded in Professional and Business Services (+14,400); Education and Health Services (+8,000); Government (+7,400); Construction (+5,500); Trade, Transportation, and Utilities (+3,400); Financial Activities (+3,400); Leisure and Hospitality (+3,000); and Manufacturing (+1,700). Other Services (-500) and Information (-400) fell slightly.

Nonfarm Employment by Industry (Not Seasonally Adjusted2)

With a drop of 14,200, not seasonally adjusted, nonfarm payroll employment in July hit a level of 2,053,100. Traditionally, decreases in employment during the summer months are due to seasonal layoffs and school closings.

Employment gains were noted in Trade, Transportation, and Utilities (+400); Leisure and Hospitality (+400); and Financial Activities (+100). Job loss occurred in Government (-11,200); Manufacturing (-1,500); Education and Health Services (-900); Other Services (-600); Construction (-600); Professional and Business Services (-200); and Information (-100). Mining and Logging remained the same.

Since July 2015, not seasonally adjusted, nonfarm jobs were up 45,400 overall with growth in Professional and Business Services (+14,900); Education and Health Services (+7,200); Government (+7,200); Construction (+5,800); Trade, Transportation, and Utilities (+3,800); Leisure and Hospitality (+3,100); Financial Activities (+2,400); Manufacturing (+2,200); and Mining and Logging (+200). Employment fell in Other Services (-900) and Information (-500).

1Seasonally Adjusted: Seasonal adjustment removes the effects of events that follow a more or less regular pattern each year (i.e. tourist-related hiring and school closings in the summer). These adjustments make it easier to observe the cyclical and other nonseasonal movements in data over time.

 

2Not Seasonally Adjusted: Effects of regular or seasonal patterns have not been removed from these data.

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graph1 graph2graph 3

Director Stanton’s statement on recent unemployment numbers

For Immediate Release

Aug. 19, 2016

DEW Executive Director Cheryl Stanton’s Statement

July 2016 Employment Statement

“We are encouraged to see the unemployment rate fall to levels not achieved in over 15 years. We also are heartened by the job growth we’ve experienced in the first half of the year as more than 32,000 people found jobs and are now providing for their families. This reflects the confidence businesses have in South Carolina’s workforce,” said Cheryl Stanton, executive director of the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce. “We still have work to do matching the skills of the 120,000 unemployed to the job opportunities around the state.”

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About SCDEW

The South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce is putting South Carolinians to work. The agency invests in building a pipeline of quality workers, matches workers with jobs, and is a bridge for individuals who find themselves out of work for no fault of their own. This promotes financial stability and economic prosperity for employers, individuals and communities. SCDEW is dedicated to advancing South Carolina through services that meet the needs of the state’s businesses, jobseekers and those looking to advance their careers.

How to use LinkedIn

Linkedin how toWhen LinkedIn is brought up many of people say “I don’t understand what it does,” or “I don’t know how to use it.” Are you one of those people?

Consider this:  According to the Pew Research Center, LinkedIn subscribers are especially high among people that have bachelor’s degrees and make $75,000 or more a year. Aren’t these the people you want to connect with professionally?

No matter what kind of job you are looking for, having a strong, polished online presence can help professionals reach you.

So how do you use LinkedIn to its full potential?

When you initially set up a profile with LinkedIn, the social media site will walk you through the process of getting your professional network established.

The first thing that LinkedIn will ask you to do is upload a picture. Remember that this is a professional site, so you should choose a professional picture. If you don’t have one, put on a blazer or business casual outfit and recruit someone to take a few for you to choose from.

Next, LinkedIn will ask questions such as: What is your past job experience, what kind of skills you have, what is your educational experience, etc. If you don’t have an appropriate answer for some of the questions, that’s okay because you can skip them. However, if you do have an answer, be sure to fill it out completely and professionally

Now that you have your profile set up, the next step is to connect with people and build your network.

In order to connect with someone you must have a relationship with them in some way. It might be someone from work or someone you used to know in school. You might have their contact information, like an email to show you have connected with them before. Perhaps you have this information from a recently acquired business card. If you want to use this as your contact reference, and you have just met the person, do it very soon after meeting. This keeps you top-of-mind and gives you an opportunity to use LinkedIn as a way to continue that introductory conversation.

Another thing to consider when connecting with someone is the invitation message. This is the equivalent of the “Friend Request” in Facebook. You are essentially asking someone to be part of your professional network. LinkedIn offers generalized messages to help, such as “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn,” but if you are trying to impress someone or remind someone of a prior meetings (perhaps at a job fair or trade show), a helpful tip is to customize the message. A simple template to follow is:

“ Hello_____, we met yesterday at ___________and I enjoyed speaking with you.

 I would like to talk more about what you do; I am really interested in that industry.”

This template of course should be customized for your audience, but it allows you to stand out from the crowd that defaults to the template messages.

Linkedin profile strengthAs you build your connections and your profile, be sure to reference your profile strength that is located to the right of your profile page. There are 5 levels of LinkedIn Profile Strength: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, Expert and All Star. If you don’t reach All Star on your first day using the site, don’t worry. Your strength will improve as you add information to your profile and that takes time and experience.