If you want to find new job opportunities, LinkedIn offers one of the most effective tools. It’s a social media platform built around businesses, job seekers, and entrepreneurs, but if your LinkedIn profile doesn’t attract potential contacts, it’s a waste of your time. Fortunately, you can improve your LinkedIn profile in just a few easy steps, whether you’re starting from scratch or revising an old profile.
Think of your LinkedIn profile as your first introduction to a potential employer or partner. These days, people often “meet” online, even when it comes to business, and you know what they say about first impressions. You want your LinkedIn profile to stand out among your competitors and to showcase your most attractive skills, qualities, and experiences.
Add your photograph
The first step toward a more engaging LinkedIn profile starts at the top of the screen. If you see a blank box, you need to add a photograph right away. People respond more strongly to images than to words, and they like to put faces to names. Adding a photograph to your profile can increase the number of times it gets viewed, help acquaintances recognize you, and add more engagement to the page. Keep in mind that other people might share your name and even your job title. A photograph makes you more recognizable.
However, don’t use your favorite summer vacation photograph. You might look great in a swimsuit on the beach, but an image like that won’t help you find jobs and opportunities. If possible, get a professional headshot. You can hire a freelance photographer or visit a studio to get your portrait taken. Alternatively, select a neutral background, such as a brick wall, and ask a friend or relative to take a picture.
Start with an elevator pitch
It’s called a summary on LinkedIn, but it’s really an elevator pitch: a short, effective narrative that tells other people why they should give you a second look. Your summary should serve as a highlight reel of your most impressive skills, accomplishments, and experiences. While you shouldn’t downplay your assets, neither should you brag about your incredible knowledge and attributes. Keep the wording humble to avoid turning off potential employers.
The elevator pitch should include as many quantifiable facts as possible. Numbers work well here, such as the following:
- I increased revenues by 62 percent in 12 months for [Company Name].
- At [Company Name], employee retention doubled under my management.
- For three years, I oversaw a project with a $3 million budget.
Try to avoid jargon and overused phrases in your summary. You can write in either the first or third person, but stay consistent with whichever you choose. You don’t want to refer to yourself in the third person in one sentence, then begin the next sentence with “I.”
Give endorsements and recommendations to contacts
LinkedIn isn’t just a place to post your resume. It’s an interactive platform like any other social media service, except that instead of sharing what you ate for dinner last night, you share information about colleagues, partners, and associates. Specifically, you can endorse and recommend your contacts to give them more visibility and to improve their chances of finding opportunities.
An endorsement is your statement that a contact possesses a certain skill that he or she lists in his or her profile. It just takes one click to send an endorsement, and you don’t have to write anything to support your endorsement. You can only endorse skills that the benefactor lists, and the contact will see your endorsement once you submit it.
A recommendation works differently. It’s a written statement that recommends your contact to other people. You might tell an anecdote about your experience with that person or praise a specific skill or personality trait that might make him or her more attractive to others.
While giving endorsements and recommendations might not seem helpful in terms of your profile, it can prove beneficial down the line. When you give recommendations and endorsements, your contacts might feel compelled to reciprocate. The more you interact with your LinkedIn contacts, the more activity your own profile will see.
Leave groups that don’t provide value
You might feel obligated to join every group related to your field of expertise, but resist the temptation. You can’t possibly stay active in dozens or hundreds of groups, so leave all groups that won’t provide you with any value. Focus instead on groups in which you can actively engage with others and find new opportunities.
How to create a good LinkedIn profile
If you’re just starting out with LinkedIn, creating a good LinkedIn profile will pave the way for success. You want to make a good impression and include only relevant information.
Keep your current responsibilities updated
Start with your responsibilities. Every time you change jobs or receive a promotion, your responsibilities change. Update these regularly so your contacts can see how your career has evolved. The same goes for your skills. When you acquire a new skill, add it to your profile so others can endorse it.
When you first open a LinkedIn account, don’t list every job responsibility you’ve ever had. Curate the list to include only the most impressive items. Otherwise, your profile will look too cluttered and unfocused, which can turn off potential employers.
Curate your skill set
Many skills have become so overused that they no longer hold any meaning. These could include the following:
- Time management
- Attention to detail
- Problem solving
Instead of resorting to clichés, think carefully about your personality and skill set. What do you bring to the table that others don’t? What sets you apart from your competition?
Think in granular terms based on your industry. While you want to avoid jargon, try to relate each skill you list to the type of job you hold or want. That way, potential employers can find you easily based on what they want in a prospective employee.
Follow authorities in your industry
As mentioned above, LinkedIn should have a social component if you want to gain any benefit from it. Follow authorities in your industry and pay attention to what they post. When you follow someone, you become part of his or her audience on LinkedIn, and you might meet new connections this way.
Additionally, authorities often have extensive experience on LinkedIn. You can review their profiles, publications, and other information on the website to find out how they use the service. You might pick up new tricks or strategies that can help you improve your own profile. Whether you work in Denver as a graphic designer or New York City as an engineer, you can tailor your LinkedIn profile to your specific goals.
Write a custom headline
When you change jobs, your headline reverts to your job title on LinkedIn. This isn’t the best way to garner favor with potential contacts. You want a custom headline that reveals something about your personality, skills, and experience. For the best results, follow this simple formula:
- Tell users what you do.
- Explain who you help with your expertise.
- Mention why you’re involved in your industry.
- Add evidence of your skills or experience.
For instance, your headline might look like this:
“Graphic designer and computer programmer who helps companies develop outstanding web presences. Clients include [well-known brands].”
The above headline is far more intriguing than one that simply says “Graphic Designer and Computer Programmer.” You’re selling not only your job description, but also your experience and motivation.
Know your audience
The language you use on your LinkedIn profile might change depending on what you want to accomplish. If you’re a job seeker, for instance, you’ll focus on attracting new opportunities. Business owners, meanwhile, might use LinkedIn to attract potential employees, connect with vendors, or expand their employment brand. Tailor your language to meet your specific goals.
Personalize the URL
You have the option to create your own LinkedIn URL. It’s the words or numbers that appear after www.linkedin.com/, and a personalized URL is easier to remember and much easier on the eyes. You can use your name if it isn’t already taken. Alternatively, combine your name with your industry or skill set. Avoid using a specific job description because you can’t change your URL later, but you might change jobs.
Creating and maintaining a LinkedIn profile doesn’t take much work, but it’s essential for the modern job seeker.
Feeling overwhelmed? Get more out of your to-do list by working smarter, rather than harder.