If you’re new to LinkedIn or you’ve created a profile but have no clue how to improve it, don’t worry you are not alone. I speak with people daily who are just like you. LinkedIn is the #1 way to network these days and if you are not out there or your profile is not complete, it could be unfavorable for you. I recently heard an employer say that when she gets someone’s resume the first thing she does is look them up on LinkedIn. If they are not out there, she won’t even consider them for an interview! Yikes!!! Now all employers may not feel that way, but imagine how many of them do. 93% of employers use LinkedIn (and other forms of social media) to find out additional information on potential employees. Please be aware that the LinkedIn profile is the new job application.
To make sure you are seen as a professional when an employer views your profile, I’m going to give you 10 quick, simple steps to help you have a superstar LinkedIn profile in no time!
1. Include a professional Photo – Remember, people will see your photo before they read your profile and this will be their first impression. You don’t have to spend money on glam shots, just simply stand in front of a blank wall and have someone take a close up picture of you. Do not use a picture that has other people in it or where we can tell your boyfriend/girlfriend was cropped out!! Most importantly, DO NOT take a picture of yourself in the bathroom mirror. Did I say this should be a PROFESSIONAL picture??!!!
2. Use a strategic Headline to brand yourself – This is the section immediately below your name and will also be seen by others before they become a connection and have viewed your profile. You should put some thought into what you want to say. If you have expertise in a few areas, be sure to include that. If you are seeking a job say that as well. Some examples are:
Hospitality Management professional with expertise in Event Planning, Weddings and Restaurant Operations
Expert Human Resources Manager seeking opportunities as a Human Resources Director or Employee Relations Manager
3. Use the Summary and Skills & Expertise sections to elaborate on your skills/expertise – In the Summary section you can show a little personality to make a connection with the reader. This is an excellent opportunity to include buzzwords and terminology for your industry. You can put the number of years of experience you have in certain areas and also list short/long-term goals. LinkedIn will allow you to list up to 50 Skills & Expertise, so list 50!!! Trust me, you do have 50 skills….but be truthful.
4. List your Experience whether paid or unpaid – Describe your accomplishments using as much hard data (dollars, percent, numbers) as possible. This is the time to show what you can do based on what you have already done.
5. List more than your major/degree in the Education section – Let employers know what you have been exposed to academically. If you are currently in school or you graduated within the last 3 years, list GPA (3.0 or better), relevant coursework, projects, scholarships, and student organizations. If you graduated more than 3 years ago, it is not necessary to include all of this because you now have some work experience. If you graduated more than 10 years ago, don’t put your graduation date because it will age you and may work to your disadvantage.
6. Personalize your profile – Think about what the most important sections are in your profile and then rearrange it so that those sections are seen first. You can also add things to your profile such as certifications, languages, organizations, Twitter, blog, presentations, etc.
7. Be diligent about getting Connections – That’s the whole purpose of LinkedIn, right? Every time you go to an event, connect with those you met within 24 hours while they still remember you. However, be sure to personalize your connection requests to include when and where you met the person. (Tip: Go through your cell phone and e-mail addresses and connect with everyone you already know. Do it TODAY!)
8. Ask for Recommendations – This is the best way for a potential employer to see what others think about you. If you have 300+ connections and only 2 recommendations that doesn’t look too favorable for you. You can also get endorsements for your skills and expertise. The best way to get recommendations is to recommend others.
9. Join Groups and follow Companies in your industry – The best way to position yourself as a professional in your industry is to join related groups and network within those groups. Occasionally, start a discussion or respond to someone else’s discussion. You can communicate your career objectives and people in the group will be able to offer some advice or perhaps help you get a job. If there is a company you would like to work for, follow them and you will be able to see their employees that are on LinkedIn (and connect with them) and see jobs that they have posted.
10. Keep your profile Up-to-date – If you submit your resume for a job, your resume and LinkedIn profile should match. Obviously, if you get a new job or complete your degree you should update those things on your profile, but also if you learn a new skill or are the keynote speaker at an event. Keep in mind, when you make changes to your profile it causes it show up on your connections’ homepage and reminds them of who you are and what you do.
BONUS TIP: If you have a common name such as John Smith, you may want to start using your middle initial or middle name to brand yourself from all the other people with your same name. Ladies, you may want to include your maiden name and married name to brand yourself. Whatever name you decide to use, make sure it is the same as what’s on your resume, business cards, and other social media accounts.