Searching for a new job or have your eye on moving up to the next level with your current employer? You never know when an opportunity is going to present itself, so you need to be prepared! One way to do so is to optimize your online presence, and LinkedIn is the premier site to showcase your experience, achievements, skills, and leadership acumen on a global scale.
Your LinkedIn profile should be one of the most utilized tools in your job search tool chest, so you need to ensure that it is sharp, fully optimized, and maintained well during your job search and beyond.
Depending on what type of device your profile is being viewed on (PC or mobile), the reader will only be able to see a fraction of your profile. That fraction has to be creative and appealing enough to make the reader want to continue to learn more about you. Don’t know where to start? Right from the top!
- LinkedIn automatically gives you a default banner when you sign up. Get rid of it! This is the first place you have the opportunity to pull the reader in – be creative! You can personalize the banner to show a little bit about yourself and/or use titles and keywords to help communicate your brand. Have a special saying or motto that motivates you? It can easily be included here. Use a website like Canva to design your own banner or hire someone to do it – either way – don’t use the default banner! #lame
- Your LinkedIn profile should have the same name that is on your resume, so that your name is consistently known by anyone who views your resume or online profile. Add any relevant credentials after your name, and try to ensure that you don’t use a nickname.
- We all know that a lot of us don’t like advertising pictures of ourselves on social media – sorry, but on LinkedIn, people want to see YOU! Be sure to include a profile picture that is professional looking and done at a level that matches the position you’re seeking. Executives should have a photo that looks like an executive and an entry level photo could probably be a more casual photo.
Stay away from photos where you have cropped yourself out of a group, at a bar/party, or have a lot of distractions in the background. Again – people want to see YOU – not a backdrop from your trip to the Grand Canyon (unless you are a travel blogger – lol).
- When you sign up with LinkedIn, your current job title automatically defaults to this section. Change it as soon as you can. Your headline gives you 220 characters to share your value, expertise, and skills. Done effectively, your headline can attract ATS systems and recruiters who are looking for candidates in your industry and is a very easy way to quickly tell people what you have to offer in your field. I like to add keywords and branding to it as well.
- Take some time to reflect about what you really want to communicate in this section. Don’t just add a one-liner and certainly do not make yourself sound desperate to find a job (even if you really are). Like your headline, this is a great place to share your brand – so make it strategic, appealing, and value-added! As with your resume, the summary at the beginning of your LinkedIn profile should be strategically written, compelling, and a quick synopsis of the best you have to offer, your highlights, and even some of your skills. Using bullets and color in this section will make it stand out more than just including paragraphs of text.
Consider adding a “call to action” at the end of the summary to let people know you are available for interviews or are actively looking for a new position. You have 2,600 characters in this section, but only the first few lines may show up when people are viewing your profile, and the key is getting the reader to click on the “more” to learn more about you. Make your first few lines appealing, inviting, and clear.
- The skills section is great but can also be a bit subjective. You need to add the skills that are the most relevant to your industry and position, whenever possible. Use strong keywords in this section, and make sure you are focusing on unique terms that make you stand out. “Staff Leadership & Development” sounds a lot better than “Leadership” and “Global Sales Operations Management” sounds way better than “Sales”.
As for the endorsements, this is where the section gets a little subjective. LI automatically puts the skills with the most endorsements at the top of the section; however, the top 3 skills are something you can…and should change, so that they are your strongest skills and the ones that are most relevant to your job search, regardless of the number of endorsements.
You have the option of including 50 terms in this list and that fills up pretty quickly – use the best fit and stay away from “fluff” terms that are expected in today’s professional world, like “Time Management” or “Team Player”.
These sections are just the tip of the iceberg in creating an amazing, optimized LinkedIn profile – but they are so important if you want to be “found” on LinkedIn, so you need to ensure that the content is unique to your job goals, industry-specific, and an effective marketing tool for your job search!