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LinkedIn for the Sterile Processing Professional, Part One 

Leveling up your professional career in sterile processing (SP) can feel limited at times. Some factors are outside of your control. Your facility may only have limited positions available for advancements. It’s possible that the supervisors in place have been in the role for longer than you’ve been alive, and you feel stuck in your current state. That said, there are some things you can do today to start elevating your value making yourself more marketable for the future role you aspire toward. Let’s focus on your online presence and visibility to recruiters, and other facilities that may be looking for positions to be filled. Building your personal brand can only serve your future if done right. The online tool we are focusing on is LinkedIn. 

We will explain why this platform is so powerful, how to stand out on the platform, and ways you can start using it today. We will cover the basics of LinkedIn, and hopefully by the end of it you will be motivated to create or improve your existing profile. 

Why use LinkedIn? 
If you aren’t familiar, LinkedIn is a professional social media platform.  It is very different from Instagram and Facebook, not only in terms of post visibility, but the way you use it is different. As of this writing, there are nearly 800 million users on the professional network in more than 200 countries. The platform is also home to more than 57 million companies.1 According to LinkedIn, two new members join every second.2 There are more than 180 million U.S. workers with profiles on LinkedIn. Thirty thousand companies use it to recruit and post over 3 million jobs every month.2 LinkedIn also allows its members to select from over 38,000 skills to showcase what they can do.1

The professionals on this platform can help you find answers to your questions, and they can help you learn and become more aware of industry trends. You can connect with professionals that will make you stronger, and one very important factor to consider is that you have the ability to become known as an industry expert in the SP space by building your own personal brand that will serve you today, and in the future. 

How to create a profile that resonates
First and foremost, you need a profile picture and cover photo. Note that cover photos can only be uploaded from your desktop. In terms of your profile photo, you don’t need to have a professional headshot. Consider a head-on photo, not a side profile image. It’s proven that people are more trusting of someone and more receptive to face-forward images. Smile and look inviting. For your cover photo, you can use the logo of the company you work for, or use an app like Canva to create a custom design in only a few minutes. 

Next, update your headline. Do not leave it to LinkedIn’s auto-fill option to fill this space. If you do nothing, the space will be filled with your current role (e.g., Sterile Processing Technician, Hartford Health). Do not make the mistake of leaving this as is. It is prime real estate on LinkedIn and a space for you to not only stand out, but to become searchable. Keywords here are your best friend. A great way to figure out the best keywords to put here are to look up multiple job listings in your industry and pull keywords that each posting seems to repeat. Find a way to use those words in your headline and get creative. A simple Google search of “catchy LinkedIn headlines” will arm you with profile examples and ideas galore.

From here, move to your About and Experience sections. The About section is where you can tie up your experience in word, and express what you are on the platform for. You can use some personality here and be human. Express what you’re trying to achieve (if you know it) and what you’re passionate about—why you love what you do. 

Under the Experience section, here are some tips: 

  • Make sure the logo of the company you work or worked for is thumbnailed so it looks aesthetically pleasing.
  • How you describe your previous role is important if you’re looking for a job. Find a role or three you’re looking at getting and read what they are searching for. Use those keywords in your description. It’s how recruiters will find you. 
  • Add your company websites, projects you’ve worked on, articles you’ve drafted, or anything else that can provide a multimedia look to your work. Under each job you’ve held, you can attach documents under the company. 
  • Now add your education background, relevant licenses and certifications, and achievements. Here’s your chance to brag a bit. “Hey everybody, come see how good I look!” Will Ferrell-style moments come to mind.           

How can you leverage this platform? 
Now that you have a profile (working résumé) built, you can start using it to connect to other industry professionals and share content of your own. This is what will help you start building your personal brand and industry credibility. 

The top performing posts right now are LinkedIn polls, custom PDFs, and posts that include more than one image. That said, video posts are not to be ignored, even though algorithm-wise they don’t gain the traction they used to. They do give your audience a sense of who you are and what your personality is like, which, in turn, builds trust. 

Poll Ideas 
You can formulate trivia-style sterile processing questions. Ask your audience questions you don’t know the answers to in the form of a poll or gather information about your audience by asking them demographic-related inquires, if that serves a purpose and you plan to use that information in an educational post down the road. Use a poll to pose a question that you indeed know the answer to, and use the caption to educate and answer that question. 

Custom PDFs 
These appear on the platform as a slideshow. They are powerful because they can be downloaded by your audience and referenced later on. There are a couple ways to create these. First, you can create a PowerPoint presentation, save it as a PDF, and upload it. Or use your phone and find apps to make them, such as Canva or GoDaddy Studio.

You can create eye-catching PDFs using these apps. You can add images and use a font that will attract more views. Good fonts are bold, all caps, and nonscript (cursive). 

Topic ideas can include something you’ve learned lately; types of surgical instrumentation, and specialties they are used in; mistakes you made when you first started; inspection points on endoscopes; insulation testing; leak testing; and so much more. The sky is the limit when it comes to content ideas; however, use caution and ensure that you give credit where credit is due. If you use someone else’s facts, reference them in the copy. If you use images that are not free stock images, add a credit line beneath the image. Make sure you have permission to use the images.

Multi-image photo posts 
To gain traction, post with photos—yes more than one. Not only will this make your audience spend more time on the post, it will also be far more interesting. If you are posting images at your facility, please keep HIPPAA guidelines in mind: flip your name badge over, exclude anything that could contain patient information, and leave logos and manufactures out of the mix, unless you have permission or are referencing and giving them appropriate credit. 

A good rule to follow is if it’s questionable and you could possibly misrepresent your organization or a manufacturer, it’s better to not post it.

Showing your face is imperative in formulating a personal brand online. It can feel foreign and maybe even vain at first. What comes to mind is Kate Hudson believing “You’re So Vain” in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. Yet it truly is not. How are people ever supposed to get to know you if you never show your face? 

Hopefully, you understand why and how using LinkedIn can serve you as a SP professional. In part two, we will cover the use and power of hashtags, how to write an eye-catching caption, and how to share other people’s content in a way that the algorithm will reward you and you give appropriate credit (hint: the answer is not just pressing Share and Post; it’s much more in-depth). Now go and create your profile or update your existing one. Start creating content and keep in mind these final three considerations as you post: does it serve, educate, or empower your audience? If it doesn’t, reconsider. Until next time, continue to be the best SP professional possible and level up your social media presence today. 

References 

  1. LinkedIn.com. “About Us,” accessed December 28, 2021. https://news.linkedin.com/about-us#Statistics
  2. Geyser, Werner (2021). “50 of the Most Important LinkedIn Stats for 2021,” Influencer Marketing Hub, accessed December 28, 2021. https://influencermarketinghub.com/linkedin-stats/

Rebecca Kinney is a medical sales representative and small business owner of Cypress, Inc. She is a Certified Central Service Vendor Partner (CCSVP). Rebecca has worked in healthcare for more than 15 years: 7 years as a sterile processing technician and 8 years in medical sales working directly with SP. Focused on a proactive and consultative approach, she takes her experience to share knowledge in the field she wishes she knew when she worked in SP. She actively participates in speaking engagements and uses LinkedIn as an educational tool to reach an audience of almost 30,000 professionals. 

Continual process improvement and education lending to patient safety has always been her primary objective.

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