Understanding how to develop a robust LinkedIn Profile is a key to success in your job search using LinkedIn. With the knowledge gained as professional resume writer, executive job search coach, and former recruiter, I’ve created a comprehensive LinkedIn Profile guide.
This 22-point check list outlines the sections you need to complete. Use this guidance to complete the various sections of LinkedIn for optimum results.
The ultimate goal: a keyword-optimized, achievement-laden profile. One that, when combined with the view-building activities, will increase the opportunities hiring managers will find you. In addition, it will help you find hiring managers to contact for the right job.
In part one of this LinkedIn profile guide, let’s take a look at the first eleven items on the checklist…
1. Get Your Name in Lights
Enter your name as you want to be called. Changed your name over the course of your career and want to be found for your former (perhaps maiden) name? Use the former name function. Bonus: You can choose to who your former name is visible to for optimum reach of your goals.
2. Make the Most of Your Tagline
Optimizing your tagline with keywords and phrases is very important to keyword optimizing your LinkedIn Profile. In your tagline (AKA “headline”), use the keywords, descriptors and deliverables for which you want to be found.
Do not let your tagline default to your current job title.
Instead, use this 120-character area to give the reader a snap shot of who you are. Show some personality. Motivate them to click on your profile link and read further. Hiring managers actually use these keywords to find people like you! You can get direction for the keywords to use from target job descriptions for the next job. You can also use your current job description.
3. Have a Professional Profile Headshot
Whether you hire a photographer or do-it-yourself, the right photo in your LinkedIn profile is critical. Be sure you use a photo that is professional and appropriate for your industry. Also, consider the type of job for which you are applying. After all, recruiters and hiring managers want to feel a personal connection with you as a candidate.
LinkedIn recently increased the size of the photo you can use. They also moved it to a more visually prominent area. Job seekers need to be aware that not having a picture is a serious detriment to their job search efforts. Even worse:, or possibly worse, having a poor picture choice front and center.
Including a quality photo on your LinkedIn profile increases your profile being viewed by 40%. So invest in a professional picture. At a minimum, choose a closely cropped, clear photo of your own where you are professionally attired. And be sure the pic is free from other people and background distractions.
4. Use a Background Photo for Additional Personal Branding
Be sure to include a background photo that complements your profile photo. Choose an image or perhaps use an image of a quote that embodies what you stand for. This is a great place to demonstrate your personal brand and promote the image you want to put forth. The size of this photo is 1400×425 pixels. It should be a .jpg, .gif or .png file.
5. Claim a Vanity URL
LinkedIn allows you to customize your profile URL easily. The LinkedIn Help instructions show you how to customize your public profile URL (otherwise known as a Vanity URL).
This is a must-do task. After all, a direct link that contains your name makes it easier to point people to your LinkedIn profile. Otherwise, you will be stuck with a generic LinkedIn URL. One that will be difficult to include on your resume materials and/or business cards.
6. Included Your Contact Information in a Folder
Under the vanity URL, your profile gives you the option to include contact information. Specifically: a Twitter handle, three websites, company web address, phone number, an email address and more. These items are neatly placed in an address file at the lower right hand corner of your intro box. This makes it so much easier for hiring managers to contact you. Be sure to complete each data field, as appropriate.
7. Adjust Your Public Profile Settings
LinkedIn automatically sets profiles to be seen by the public. You can customize which sections are visible to the public when your profile is listed in a search engine result, and which are not. Review which sections you want included as they pertain to your profession and industry. Typically, you will want all of the sections visible, however, you may decide to choose a different strategy when deciding what is shown or not shown. Allowing public visibility in some capacity allows your profile to show up in search results when your name is searched through a search engine. When your profile is clicked in a search engine, what you make public will be seen by the viewer.
8. Create Achievement-Driven Summary & Experience Sections
The summary section provides you a 2000-character space to showcase your achievements and key accomplishments. It should be filled with examples of how you have achieved various things, instead of simply telling people a recap of your experience. Additionally, you can reference other parts of your profile here, to encourage readers to keep scrolling to the other sections where your work is more prominently displayed.
Here is where you can start to build your brand. Your brand is not only what you want to project of yourself. It is also what your employers, coworkers, and clients have come to know you for during your career. Remove the fluff and clichés from your summary. Instead, make it jam-packed with action-driven information and language. Let your personality shine through for that prospective employer!
Don’t just tell someone you are results-driven. Demonstrate by citing results in your profile. Show social proof of the trait. Don’t just say you have the trait.
9. Use Keywords in Summary & Experience Sections
Keywords are important throughout your profile, not just your tagline. In your summary and experience sections, use words that enable hiring managers to “find you” in a keyword search. Quick tip: Cut and paste a job description into a word cloud function, such as wordle.net. This will identify keywords and acronyms that you need to have in your profile. Then incorporate these keywords into the content of your summary and experience sections to improve the optimization of your profile. Additionally, use these keywords to develop the skills section mentioned in a later section.
Use descriptor words that share your abilities, subject matter expertise, and skill sets as often as possible. Do this especially in your summary and experience sections.
10. Showcase Your Work
There are several sections in your profile that allow you to showcase your work, your professional credentials, and your personality. All of these sections add dimension to your overall brand.
For example, use the Project Section to showcase work that is pertinent to your profession. Be sure you have permission to use this material publicly on your profile. This is a great option for copywriters, graphic artists, conference speakers, and corporate trainers, as an example. What you decide to include here, helps you set yourself apart from other candidates.
Include relevant information in each of these sections such as Publications, Projects, Courses, Volunteer Experience, and so on. Upload applicable whitepapers, media, presentations, and videos as applicable. Ensure that what you include reinforces your personal brand.
11. Complete All Sections, Including Education, Certifications, & Interests
The more complete your profile, the better your profile ranks in search results. Be sure to complete all of the sections including Education, Certifications, and Interests. Complete all other section options your profile provides, when applicable. Insert the applicable information, being conscious about the overall impact it will have on your personal brand. Include details that help enhance your brand and make your profile stronger.
Additionally, do you know multiple languages? Have your received Honors & Awards? Do you have patents to promote to the scientific or consumer goods community? These are details that could certainly help you rise above the competition when included and showcased.
Now that we’ve covered some of the basics, let’s take a break and get some fresh air. We’ll go even deeper into your LinkedIn profile in “A Comprehensive LinkedIn Profile Guide For Career Advancement, Part 2.”
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Chameleon Resumes.
About the Author: Lisa Rangel, founder and managing director of Chameleon Resumes, a Forbes Top 100 Career Website. Lisa has helped hundreds land the exact job they want. A former recruiter, she is a 10-time certified resume writer and job search consultant. Lisa is also a paid moderator for LinkedIn’s Job Seeker Premium Group. She has been an Official LinkedIn Blogger since 2012. Lisa is also a featured expert on Fast Company, Investors Business Daily, The BBC and the author of ResumeCheatSheet.com. Follow Lisa on LinkedIn.