More than another social media account, your LinkedIn profile is an online resume, a networking platform, and a personal branding tool. That means you should treat it with the same care and attention to detail as any resume, cover letter or portfolio.
LinkedIn is also one of the key tools for recruiters and headhunters. We use it ourselves when recruiting for our clients. That’s why we know how important it is to make sure that your profile is properly filled out and optimized to appear in the search results. Today we’re going to focus on a few parts of your LinkedIn profile that are key to getting noticed and leaving the right impression.
1. Highlight Your Key Accomplishments
There is a lot of detailed work you can do to improve your LinkedIn profile, and since the platform itself changes from time to time, you’ll also need to keep up-to-date on the current best practices. However, it can be easy to get bogged down in the details and lose track of the big picture. Just as most resumes are only read for about 10 seconds, the same is true with your LinkedIn profile. In order to earn a deeper read-through and possibly a job offer, you want to make sure that you leave a strong overall impression, and that your key strengths stand out. The difference is that unlike a resume, you don’t necessarily know which skills are most relevant to the recruiter looking at your profile.
When you start working on your LinkedIn profile, choose three to five key accomplishments to highlight. These can be achievements from work, volunteering, personal projects, awards earned etc. Turn these accomplishments into short action statements, with specific and quantifiable details whenever possible. For example, ‘Increased admissions by 15%’, or ‘received the Outstanding Teacher Award two years in a row’.
There are several sections in your profile that you can use to display your achievements, including your headline, your summary, and the job description of your most recent jobs. If your achievements take the form of awards, publications or projects, you can create special sections for these categories and move them just beneath your summary so they are easy to find.
Ask a friend to look at your profile for a few seconds. What stands out? Can they tell you some of your key accomplishments?
2. Use Keywords in your Headline
If you want to show up in LinkedIn’s search results, you’ll need to optimize your profile, and that includes using key words. One of the best places to put keywords is your headline. By default your headline will be set to your current or most recent work experience, but this space allows for 120 characters, which is plenty of room for a few major skills or job titles. This will also help your profile stand out and quickly encapsulate your career and specialties for the recruiter.
After your title and current employer, include two to four search terms. Think about the words that a recruiter would use when searching for someone in your field. If you still have room, you can finish your headline with a bit of branding or personality that sets you apart. This could be your work philosophy, a cool hobby, or an achievement. Here’s an example:
- Admissions Advisor at XYZ Secondary School | Recruiter | Marketer | Student Empowerment Champion
Avoid meaningless buzzwords like ‘passionate’, ‘strategic’ and ‘experienced’. LinkedIn releases a list each year of the most-used phrases. These terms convey little meaning, and no recruiter is typing ‘passionate teacher’ into the search bar. Throughout your profile, focus instead on key words and key accomplishments.
3. Follow Groups
According to Linkedin, your profile is 4x more likely to be viewed if you are active in groups. You can join up to 50 groups, but the average member joins 7, so aim for at least that number to start. Once you’ve found a few groups, devise a schedule for interacting with them. You may decide to comment or post in a different group each week, for example. Over time, this will get you noticed by industry contacts, and gives you an opportunity to establish yourself as an expert or thought-leader.
You don’t have to limit yourself to your industry. Look for local groups and causes that you are interested in. Remember though, that the groups you follow reflect your personal brand, so choose wisely.
4. Be Strategic with Skills and Endorsements
Most recruiters don’t pay too much attention to endorsements – after all, it’s easy to endorse people without experiencing their skills first hand. However, they are important for showing up on the recruiter’s radar in the first place. Your skills also act as keywords for Linkedin’s search, and having at least one endorsement seems to play a role in whether you rank or not.
Choose those skills that are related to your profession, and remove generic skills like ‘Microsoft Office’. Consider the overall image your skills suggest – you may know a bit of carpentry from your time working construction in university, but if you’re now a IT professional, that carpentry skill only confuses your message. You don’t want to come across as a jack-of-all trades. Put the most important skills, and the highest endorsed skills at the top of your list.
Aim for at least one endorsement per skill. The easiest way to earn more endorsements is to endorse other people, particularly contacts who have experience with your skills. Go through your contact list and endorse everyone you feel comfortable plugging. You can also send a personalized message asking someone if you they would be willing to endorse you.
While we can all sympathize with the desire to reduce your online foot print and remain anonymous, if you’re serious about online networking, you’ll want to include your photo on your LinkedIn account. In fact, just having a picture makes your profile 14x more likely to be viewed.
Your photo should match your position and industry – if you’re in management, stick with a standard business suit. If you’re in the arts, you may go for something with a little more personality, but regardless your photo should always be professional. That picture of you and your dog on the beach might be good for dating app, but it doesn’t send the right message to recruiters.
It can be worth the investment to get a professional photo taken, but a selfie will do the job if done right. A simple white wall, your best blouse or suit, and a smartphone is all you really need.
LinkedIn also allows you to add a header/cover image to your profile. While you can keep the default image, this space is useful for additional branding. If you don’t have an appropriate photo to use, you can find free pictures on websites like Pixabay and Unsplash. Choose a picture that is suites your job, industry, or the feeling you want to convey.
Perfecting your LinkedIn profile can take quite a bit of work, but in today’s job market it is worth the effort. Make an ongoing plan to improve it bit by bit, and you’ll be an All-Star user before you know it.