Career growth happens when you take advantage of the growth of your skills. Depending on where you work and who you work for, your skill growth may be recognized organically by your manager without explicit action on your part. In this case, you can focus your attention on skill growth, and let career growth happen to you.

Many people don't get that lucky, and their company or manager may not reward or even recognize their skill growth. Leaders shouldn't rely on luck and the goodwill of others to grow. You can take charge of your career growth by being open to working elsewhere.

Who looks at LinkedIn?

Hiring managers, interviewers, and recruiters often use LinkedIn as their primary way to see someone's career path, skills, education, and experience.

Recruiters use it to find candidates that meet their client's needs. Hiring managers use it to find the perfect candidates for their teams, or to dive deeper into someone identified by their recruiting partners. Interviewers use it to understand the type of experience a candidate may have when building their interview questions.

Why care about your LinkedIn profile?

It's expected - If you're actively hunting for a job, you're being negligent if you don't update your LinkedIn profile. Even if you send a resume, many hiring managers still look at your profile. It's just expected that people keep career details on LinkedIn. Not updating your profile when job hunting gives the impression that you don't pay attention to the details. Before you object that you just don't like social media or some other excuse - I don't think life is fair. I'm telling you what matters.

Saves time - It's a free resume generation system. Plenty of companies accept a LinkedIn profile link or a LinkedIn generated resume in lieu of a manually written resume. Two birds, one stone.

Catch opportunities - Even if you're not looking for a job, it's possible your dream job is out there. At this moment, the hiring manager is hunting for someone who looks like you.

Be prepared - It's easier to update it every 6 months than frantically write it from scratch when you need it to look good.

Network tool - As you advance in your career, your network becomes more important. Many opportunities come up due to your professional contacts. LinkedIn makes this simple. Have an updated profile, connect to smart co-workers, and you have a way of leveraging your network.

Step 1: Make it look good

Find a reasonable photo of yourself, or have someone take one. A good cell phone photo is fine. A simple well lit headshot will do. Upload that to your profile photo.

Find a decent background photo. Something which would work well as a computer background or screensaver. A photo of a mountainside, or grass. The purpose is to make your profile look complete.

Write a headline for yourself. Something short and to the point. The simplest is role - company, such as "Senior Software Engineer at Amazon". If you're not employed, you'd want to focus on the positions you would like to have. Something like "Marketing Professional" or "Project Manager". This is your tag line, the few words people will use to determine if they should look closer at you. This headline is displayed on critical pages such as the connections discovery page ("My Network").