LinkedIn’s functionality has changed a lot over the years. As the site has improved, more savvy recruiters and employers now use LinkedIn to search for the right talent. Accordingly, candidates are increasingly adding LinkedIn profiles to their job search arsenal.
With all of those potential candidates now on LinkedIn, will you be found?
Here are 12 tips to building a better LinkedIn profile:
Tip 1: Add a Decent Headshot
Having a clear, professional, friendly looking picture of you (and you alone) is expected. In fact, most profiles do have photos, so when I see a profile without one, my immediate and lasting impression is…why doesn’t this person have a picture, for crying out loud? Really, is that the impression you want to make?
Tip 2: Your Professional Headline Should Mean Something
By default LinkedIn will use your most recent job title for you professional headline. If that is not the job title you want to be known for, then edit your profile. This is one of the first things a visitor will see, so if the message isn’t clear or exactly right, you could lose them.
Tip 3: Make Your Summary Sing
Your summary, much like the summary on the back of a book jacket, is what compels people to read more and take interest. In the olden days, it was acceptable to have a cut and paste version of the summary from your resume. But in reality, LinkedIn is a social network and people want to know you a little deeper. I see more and more summaries written in the first person, “I value..” “My lifelong dream…”. This makes it more personal. I am not suggesting it get too personal, just real enough so your true personality shines through.
Tip 4: Key Words Count
Employers and recruiters are masters of search. They know the key words they are looking for. Do you use key words in your summary? Have you added Specialties? You should know what the right key words are for your industry and occupation. These are typically the specific skills required in job postings, and no, I am not talking about “hard-working”, “dedicated”, “trustworthy”. I am talking about software, terms and industry knowledge. Get familiar with this and begin to immediately incorporate them into your summary. If you don’t use them…you don’t have them.
Tip 5: Turn Off Your Activity Broadcasts*
What is that, you may ask? Whenever you make changes to your profile (any change) every one of your contacts is notified. If you are in stealth job search, you don’t want to tip off your network as you make changes. It is unfortunate, but all too often true, that people don’t update their LinkedIn profile until they are ready to search. You can stop these activity broadcasts by changing your settings. Pssst: if you are already an active user of LinkedIn add people to your connections and regularly update your profile, this may not send any red flags.
*CLARIFICATION: Yes, you do want to ping your connections but with the right pings. Tons of updates to your profile all of a sudden is a sure sign you are looking for a new job. Once you have made edits to your profile, turn this notification BACK ON! (Thanks Greg Taylor, for your comment!)
Tip 6: Update Your Status Periodically
Your status pings your connections in their Network activity. This can be a super way to increase your networks awareness of you. It is also a great way to begin building your personal reputation. Examples of things to update your status with: An event you will be attending – including the link; a great article about your industry or occupation; good news about your company, you or a colleague; recommendation of a book; anything that shows you are professionally committed.
Tip 7: Add All Your Email Addresses
If you have only listed your work email, you will absolutely want to include your personal emails as well. What happens if you are unexpectedly asked to leave your employer? You no longer have access to your work email and therefore, lose access to your LinkedIn profile. While this can be fixed, it takes a bit of work on your part, so be smart and include your other email addresses. Additionally, this helps people connect with you. LinkedIn recognizes you by your email, so if someone sends you an email to connect via LinkedIn to your personal email address and you haven’t listed it within your profile, LinkedIn doesn’t know you have a profile and this frequently results in duplicate profiles.
Tip 8: Don’t Use the Default Public Profile URL
If you haven’t started including a link to your LinkedIn public profile, you should. Put it on your resume, your business cards and use it in your email signature. But before you do this, customize the URL so it just includes your name. It looks more professional.
Tip 9: Stop Hiding
You want to be visible. You want people to know if you’ve looked at their profile. Can you stop using “anonymous LinkedIn user”! And really, why don’t you want me to know your last name? If you will be searching for new employment or are seeking employment, open up your profile and let people see who you are.
Tip 10: Enrich Your Profile and Message with Apps
Showcase examples of your work using Slideshare or Box.net files. Maybe you have customer testimonials or letters of recommendation that you want to show off. Create a presentation or scan the letter into Box.net for everyone to have access to. These applications allow you to have a robust portfolio. Use them. I wrote about using LinkedIn’s apps in this post: Adding Social Bling to Your LinkedIn Profile.
Tip 11: Website Links? Customize Those Too!
Instead of using LinkedIn’s default title for linked websites/urls, “My company website” “Other website”, you can edit their labels. They have to be short to be viewable. It really helps the viewer understand what they’ll find if they decide to click through. (That’s what you want, isn’t it?)
Tip 12: Yes, You Really Should Get Recommendations
You can’t be sure they will tip the scales in your favor, but you shouldn’t discount them either. Give to get is the motto. Write a recommendation for a colleague, partner, vendor, manager… someone you worked with and genuinely would like to share your appreciation toward.
I really wanted this to be called, how to build a better mouse trap…because you want your profile to “catch” the viewer’s attention…. Any other suggestions you would make?
If you aren’t familiar with Jason Alba’s book, videos and blog: “I’m On LinkedIn…Now What?“, he provides great insight and help! If you are looking for other resources and help with LinkedIn, you can see some of the many resources for social tools on my Resources page (including LinkedIn).
Any other tips you would like to suggest?
She brings over 10 years of experience helping displaced workers search for their next opportunity, and has developed and delivered workshops as well as managed the implementation of Career Navigator, a five-day intensive boot camp for professional level job seekers.
In addition to her blog, Career Sherpa, Hannah is honored to be designated as Job Search Navigator on Job-Hunt.org as well as a featured blogger on HerRochester. She also contributes to Career Collective, a community of expert career coaches and resume writing professionals who write monthly on job search topics, and guest blogs for Brand-Yourself.com on social media trends and tools. Follow Hannah on Twitter!