The days of jumping through hoops to get a CV on the desk of a top industry professional are gone. LinkedIn changed all that.
However, very few of us have LinkedIn profiles that sell ourselves effectively, and you won’t always know who’s going to be looking at your profile until they’ve already viewed it. So it’s important to keep your profile sharp.
In this article, we detail ten LinkedIn profile tips to help ensure you don’t miss the opportunity to catch that recruiter’s eye – and keep them reading once they’ve clicked on your profile.
1. Make a Powerful First Impression
Your photo and headline are the two most prominent details on your profile that encourage someone to click to discover more about you, or not. To make them as effective as possible:
- Use an appropriate photo. Ideally, a headshot of you looking well presented and professional.
- Optimise your headline. Your headline should stand out and set you apart from the profiles of your peers. Be careful not to make it too long or put all of the important content at the end; some screen views cut the headline down to three or four words, so don’t waste the start of yours using phrases like, ‘I am currently focusing on...’
- Make use of the background photo feature. Another great way to stand out is to upload a background photo, as only a small percentage of users have them. For more information on this, read our article: ‘How to choose a good background photo for your LinkedIn profile’.
2. Avoid Overused Words
Using your summary to tell people you’re ‘passionate, creative and focused’ says very little. Instead of using these common words, be specific.
Talk the reader through your achievements, key skills, qualifications and experience in your own relaxed (but professional) vocabulary, using facts and figures where possible.
Make sure your summary paints you as an accessible, approachable person who is going to fit into a company well. Using language that features lots of buzzwords and clichés may alienate you from the recruiter.
Keywords can be useful to boost your profile’s visibility (see point 3), though be careful not to drop in so many that the personality of your profile is compromised.
3. Boost Your Profile’s Visibility
Knowing where to strategically place keywords will help to get your profile in front of more recruiters. Think about which words people in your field are likely to search for and include those words in your headline and summary sections.
The ‘Skills and Endorsements’ section might seem like a filler, but it’s a space where you can ensure you have the correct list of keywords. Also make sure you have something written in the ‘Current Position’ field; recruiters often search by current position to find candidates.
If you already have a job and your title doesn’t include the keywords related to the role you are looking for, then it’s a good idea to try and include them. For example, if your job is ‘Database Configuration Assistant’ but you are looking for a marketing role, you could add ‘ – Marketing’ after your job title to ensure you appear in marketing-related searches.
4. Get Creative
If you produced a short film for your degree that you’re proud, of or have photos of the community project you volunteered for in Africa, put them on your LinkedIn profile. Multimedia is a fantastic asset to a LinkedIn profile.
When creating a CV, we’re encouraged to include work experience and hobbies – LinkedIn is no different. Be sure to include details of any volunteering you have done, languages you speak and projects you have undertaken in your own time.
There is a separate ‘Interests’ section, but the summary field is a good place to talk about what you like to do outside of work; let your personality shine through.
5. Be Specific
If you have quantifiable achievements, be sure to include them in your summary.
Instead of saying ‘I am a successful HR trainee’, say, ‘I increased productivity by 25% at my work placement in 2018 by training staff in new admin software’.
It’s a good idea to include some details about each past job you have listed. Don't make the mistake of using vague bullet points like ‘responsible for managing database’, which tells the recruiter very little.
A good approach to take is to imagine you were crafting a cover letter for a job; give examples to prove you held the responsibility and did the job well.
So instead of saying, ‘Responsible for managing database’ you might say something like, ‘Reduced database inaccuracies by 24% by implementing a fortnightly cleansing process undertaken by all staff’.
6. Be Proactive
You’ve completed your LinkedIn profile – now what? Rather than sitting and waiting to be found, start working on getting noticed. Joining relevant groups and making comments on posts is a great place to start.
Update your own LinkedIn status regularly with professional evaluations and comments; you can develop this further by writing lengthier posts once you have the confidence to do so.
You could comment on an industry-related article you’ve recently read or post about a seminar you’ve attended. If you have a blog, link to your posts on LinkedIn.
Ensure you have a good bank of connections – over 40 ideally – and don't add a lot of people you don’t know. Take a strategic approach – stay at the forefront of their minds by liking, commenting on and even sharing their posts.
7. Keep Everything Contemporary
Set a monthly reminder to check back over your profile to see if there’s anything you could add. Keeping your page fresh will mean it reflects your latest accolades and continues to impress those who look at your profile frequently (recruiters might be browsing candidates for a position for a long time before they actually act on their searches).
Keep your skills and endorsements up-to-date so that they paint an accurate picture of your current capabilities, but don’t let them get overloaded.
If you’ve worked closely with one of your connections, ask for a recommendation. Given you can choose whether to publish a recommendation or not, they become the greatest references you could ask for.
It’s a good idea to think about the skill set a recruiter will be looking for and choose your recommendations wisely, to reflect a broad set of abilities.
8. Get to Know How LinkedIn Works
There are a lot of privacy options in the ‘Settings and Privacy’ section that you should familiarise yourself with.
One is whether or not you want to let your whole network know when you make small changes to your profile. You might not want it to be obvious that you’re giving your profile an overhaul, especially if you’re already in a job. On the other hand, if you’ve just completed a big project you’re really proud of and have uploaded a slideshow to your page, you may want maximum exposure.
It’s a great idea to have a look at other people’s profiles and get to know what works and what doesn’t from a viewer’s perspective. If a certain part of their profile really engaged you or they had a headline that made you click to find out more, then adapt elements of what they’ve done for your own profile.
9. Make Sure You Can Be Found
It’s a good idea to get a custom URL so that you can be found easily. You can opt to use just your name if it’s available (www.linkedin.com/joebloggs), or your name with a hyphen or another combination. Click on ‘Edit your public profile’ under ‘Settings and Privacy’ and you should see an option to ‘Edit URL’.
Make sure the contact details you have listed are current and also include your Twitter handle or other social media info if you’re more likely to respond via those platforms.
In the privacy settings, you can choose how your profile will be viewed by those who aren’t connections. Depending on your industry, you might want to think about how much of your experience you want to reveal to those who aren’t yet your ‘1st’ connections.
10. Some Don’ts…
- Don’t overload your headline. If you’re familiar with LinkedIn, you probably know yourself that it’s off-putting when a person has a headline filled with abbreviations, qualifications or the use of terms like ‘Award-winning’. The best thing to do is to let your profile speak for itself – the headline should be the hook.
- Don’t go off-brand. If you’re a blogger trying to promote your lifestyle blog, it might be fitting to use phrases like, ‘Need to fill my lungs with sea air on a daily basis’ in your headline, but this definitely isn't appropriate if you are trying to land a job in the corporate world.
- Keep things concise. While it’s important to include details of past jobs and list your achievements in the roles, don’t be tempted to include too much information. Three or four bullet points under each job listing is enough to inform but not overwhelm.
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