As an education professional, I enjoy using LinkedIn to post and read articles that are relevant to my interests in education policy, talent acquisition trends, and leadership development, and to stay connected with current and former colleagues. And as a recruiter, specifically a recruiter of educators, it’s my job to use this social networking tool to identify and connect with incredible candidates who may be the right fit for our openings within YES Prep Public Schools. While the number of active educators on LinkedIn is growing, we significantly trail behind professionals in other fields. The truth is, more and more school districts are utilizing LinkedIn to find great talent, and not enough teachers are leveraging this free opportunity to build their brand and network.
Teachers— whether you’re searching for new roles or just looking to increase your influence and develop your brand, check out these quick tips for creating or revamping your profile:
1. Include a professional photo. This doesn’t mean you actually need a professional headshot, but do wear professional clothing and ask a friend or colleague to take a shot with good lighting. Avoid selfies, photos with friends/loved ones, or any picture you wouldn’t want a future employer or colleague to see. Remember, LinkedIn is different than other social networking platforms, so photos from last night’s party or a selfie in your car are not appropriate as a LinkedIn headshot.
Bonus tip: You could include an action shot of you delivering an engaging lesson (just make sure that no students are featured in the shot without a media release granting permission).
2. Tell your story! LinkedIn profiles include a summary portion, which, for many, is under-utilized, outdated, or written in the third person, which is often distracting. Think of the summary portion of LinkedIn as the place to share your elevator pitch and highlight what sets you apart as a teacher. In planning your summary, reflect on what drew you to the field of education, how you would describe your professional values, and what you add to the profession. For example, you could describe your passion for English Literature, which attracted you to teaching AP Lit, or your desire to support struggling learners, which inspires you to get out of bed each morning. Maybe, it’s your unwavering commitment to ensuring that all your students, regardless of race or income, achieve jaw-dropping results. For some of you, it could be all of the above; share that in your summary!
Additionally, you should highlight the things that distinguish you as an educator, such as your ability to draw connections between complex topics and your students’ lives, or to build transformative relationships which engage even the most reluctant learners.
Bonus tip: If your career has been teaching in underserved urban or rural communities or you have taught in a suburban environment for many years and are looking to make a change, speak to that experience.
Think of the summary portion of LinkedIn as the place to share your elevator pitch and highlight what sets you apart as a teacher.
3. Share highlights and accomplishments as part of your work history: You should not only include a list of your past roles in chronological order, you should also describe highlights from each role. Avoid cutting and pasting your job description; every principal knows that a teacher should write lesson plans, enter grades, and create procedures. Instead, take the opportunity to share your accomplishments. Perhaps your students achieved 62% growth on end of course assessments last year, or you were selected to lead your peers as a grade level chair. Get specific, and distinguish yourself from others.
Bonus Tip: It may be worth looking at past performance reviews, or asking colleagues for feedback about what you do best. If you are an active volunteer in your community, you can include that involvement in your LinkedIn profile as well.
4. Grow your connections: Connect with your current and past colleagues on LinkedIn. It’s a great way to stay in touch with people in your professional network and learn about trends within your field. Be mindful of who you invite to connect with you and which connection requests you accept; your network is part of your brand! It does not make sense to send blanket invites to everyone on the internet. On a daily basis, I receive numerous invitations from professionals who are hoping to connect. I am much more compelled to accept the invitation and to find a time to chat by phone if the person takes the time to explain why they have sent me the invite.
Bonus Tip: If you’re hoping to move to a new school district next year, it’s appropriate to reach out to professionals who work there with a short message along these lines: “Dear Principal/Recruiter/etc., I am an aspiring/current educator who is excited to explore opportunities within your school next year and would love to connect via LinkedIn.”
Posting interesting and relevant content on LinkedIn signals to me that you are committed to your own growth and development and open to new ideas.
5. Post content that’s relevant to your field: Similar to Facebook, LinkedIn provides you the opportunity to post status updates. Use this as opportunity to position yourself as an expert in your field. Perhaps you read an interesting article about vertical alignment in math curriculum that you think is worth sharing, or you see an inspiring quote about leadership that is applicable to your classroom. When I observe educators posting interesting and relevant content on LinkedIn, it signals to me that they are committed to their own growth and development and open to new ideas – traits that are valued within many professions and especially at YES Prep Public Schools.
Bonus Tip: LinkedIn status updates should not be used to post about an especially stressful day, or gripe about things you find fault with in your profession.
Once you’ve used these five tips to create or re-vamp your LinkedIn profile, make sure you update it often and visit the site regularly to engage with your networks. You may find that you’ve been receiving messages from future employers or old colleagues looking to reconnect, and you don’t want to miss an opportunity to stay in touch. An out-of-date profile, just like an out-of-date resume, will hold you back from sharing new developments in your career that are relevant to future employers.
Once you’ve found your dream job—perhaps teaching at one of our 16 transformational schools within Houston— share an update with your networks so we can congratulate you!
Editor’s Note: Ana is fast-approaching her tenth year working in public education, and she has spent most of that time recruiting extraordinary talent for school districts nation-wide. As the Director of Recruitment at YES Prep Public Schools, Ana shapes our growing talent pool by finding unique ways to identify and connect with incredible educators. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.