There’s no doubt about it: As the second most-used social network – and the only one dedicated to business purposes – LinkedIn has to be the first choice for any professional. In fact, 97 percent of U.S. recruiters are using LinkedIn to post jobs and search for candidates. And even if you’re not job hunting, it’s vital to be on LinkedIn, since it’s the ideal place to connect with coworkers, former colleagues, potential clients and anyone else you may interact with in a professional setting.
Many people treat their LinkedIn profile as a resume, and that is a mistake. With some easy tweaks, you can create a LinkedIn profile that will bring out your professional best.
Before You Start
First, before you start, take a minute to adjust your settings so that every time you make a tweak, it doesn’t go to your entire network’s activity feed. To do this, go to ‘Settings’, and under ‘Privacy Controls’, click ‘Turn on/off your activity broadcasts’. Another window will allow you to uncheck that option to turn it off. When you are finished updating your profile, you can turn it back on, but it’s easier to have it off for now.
Section by Section
Pay Special Attention to Your “Headline”
It can be your actual title, but you also should expand it to describe WHAT you do. So, even if you work in the accounting department, don’t just say “Accounting.” Add in some details, such as “Accountant with Expertise in US-Canada Taxation,” or if you are job hunting, say something like “Experienced Accountant Currently Searching for New Opportunities.” The reason is because this little summary under your photo is what people see every time you post on the news feed, reply to someone’s status update or post in a group so the meatier the better to stand out.
Use the “Summary Section” the Same Way
Many people just put in a simple job description here, but you can add so much more, by describing who you are and what you are best at, and the kind of projects and clients you like to work with.
Your summary section should contain the key information about you and what sort of position you have or are searching for (if you are job hunting). Make sure that it isn’t just a copy of your resume, but rather a few paragraphs that describe you and why you would be a great employee. For example, you can discuss achievements from past positions, highlights of your career to date and qualities that you offer, such as attention to detail, team focus, etc. This section should be more “cover letter” than “resume” in tone, because below is where you will list your experience. Use this section to call out your most impressive features and career highlights.
Use a Professional Photo
No pets, kids or social pictures please, and it’s best to avoid a “selfie” unless you are really good at it. With the excellent cameras on most smartphones today, it’s easy to have someone take a professional photo that you can upload easily.
Amp Up Your Experience
The experience section can be more than just a series of job functions and dates. This is where you want to put your best foot forward and show off your accomplishments. Highlight awards you received, impressive sales figures, promotions, increased responsibilities and notable projects. You can even add documents, links, videos and more if they are pertinent to the skills you are trying to highlight. Make sure that you have some recommendations for each section, as well. Ask former colleagues to recommend your work — even if it’s not a current position, they can recall your best features from when you did work together. Note that recommendations are different from endorsements, which is where someone just clicks a button to say that you’re good at this or that. A recommendation is a thoughtful paragraph that someone puts together that highlights your best qualities and carries much more weight. When you ask someone for one, it’s ok to mention a few specific qualities or areas of expertise you’d like them to include. It makes their job easier, as well.
Add in Skills
This is the section where people can endorse you; and the LinkedIn algorithm will randomly ask people to endorse you for different skills. If there’s one that you prefer people endorse you for, more than others, read through the list and put that in the first. Add as many as you like; there’s no drawback to having more.
Don’t Forget Groups, Influencers, etc.
This section near the bottom shows whom you are following and what groups you belong to. Take some time to add a few influencers to each section, such as thought leaders in your industry or business leaders you admire; and companies that interest you, including your own, so you are aware of the news that they are sharing with others. And make sure to join some groups that pertain to your industry. It’s a wonderful way to share best practices and find out what others are doing, and also to make contacts that might help you as you go forward. You can join up to 50, so mix it up with industry organizations, alumni groups and even those pertaining to your hobbies or volunteer interests. Check the group analytics to see which groups and members are most active.
Last Tip… for a Perfect LinkedIn Profile
Customize your URL. That means that when you email the link to someone, it will look like this: www.linkedin.com/in/YOURNAME, rather than a long, random string of numbers. It’s easy to do:
- Move your cursor over Profile at the top of your homepage and select Edit Profile.
- Click the URL link under your profile photo. It will be an address like www.linkedin.com/in/yourname
- Under the Your public profile URL section on the right, click the Edit icon next to your URL.
- Type the last part of your new custom URL in the text box.
- Click Save.
Once you’ve updated your profile, make sure to turn your activity broadcast back on so that people know when you are on the site. Being active will bring your name up in people’s news feeds, and that top-of-mind awareness can be helpful in your career.
LinkedIn is where business takes place, so it’s vital that you are taking the steps to be active and noticed with a professional profile.
by Cathie Ericson