The growing momentum and influence of this online network of professionals reflects a changing work landscape and drives home the point that a great paper resume and impressive career trajectory is no longer enough – not even for executives.
But neither is simply having a LinkedIn account that you don’t use or update.
Whether you’re a graduate or an executive or somewhere in-between, it’s important to maximise the potential of the LinkedIn platform to network, engage with existing contacts and outline your expertise to a wide range of connections, acquaintances and possible future employers.
Here’s a checklist for fine-tuning your LinkedIn profile and making sure it has maximum impact with hiring managers and recruiters.
Regardless of what the proverbs say, people can and do judge books by their covers. And potential employers will do the same with your LinkedIn profile. Make the best first impression you can by using professional headshots – and not just importing your Facebook profile picture over. If you’re not sure about the headshots you currently have, sites like Photofeeler are a good place to take them for a test drive in front of a non-biased public.
You might have many talents, but in order to get hired for the best jobs and companies, you need to focus on your specialist and niche skills – and gear your LinkedIn profile towards them.
A clear headline will help you define your unique selling point and enable recruiters to find you quickly and easily. It doesn’t have to be your current job title, but it should be concise and steer clear of buzzwords or overused phrases. Make it indicative of your goals and skills, and make sure it covers the qualities you can offer.
Having trouble fitting all that into a short phrase? Check out some other headlines for inspiration, particularly those whose careers you wish to emulate.
Using searchable key phrases that mirror the kinds of jobs you’re searching for will make sure you get as many pairs of eyes on your profile as possible. These keywords help to optimise your profile so that you can be easily found by recruiters and hiring managers that are searching for your specific skills.
Make yourself easier to find by strategically using keywords in your summary and job history. Think about keywords that describe your goals, personal brand, skills and competencies – you can search job descriptions to get some ideas of what kinds of skills and experience people in your industry are looking to hire. This will help you show up in search results for these specific keywords.
Nothing has the potential to turn off would-be employers more than mistakes in a LinkedIn profile. Even if spelling, punctuation and grammar have nothing to do with your field, casual mistakes (or worse errors) imply a lack of care that will make you universally less appealing to recruiters.
There are plenty of online tools like Grammarly that will check over your copy for you. But if in doubt, show your profile to a friend who’s sharp at editing and get them to cast a careful eye over your content. Small mistakes can make a big difference and polished profiles could land you your next great role.
No one wants to see every job you’ve ever had cluttering your profile.
Important information about relevant roles you’ve held, what they entailed, and how long you had them for are crucial for fashioning a LinkedIn profile that really speaks to recruiters in your industry. Don’t worry about bragging. This is about demonstrating the things you’re good at, and where your most desirable talents lie. Be sure to include a clear career history with your employer, job title and a list of your responsibilities.
The lifeblood of any great resume: recommendations are a vital addition to strong LinkedIn profiles. The value of a testimonial and why they are incredibly beneficial speaks for itself, so be sure to get as wide and numerous a spread of recommendations and positive comments as you can and use them liberally in your profile. Nothing suggests suitability for a role more than a former co-worker, employer or report saying that you did a great job. So leverage all your prior experience into some glowing testimonials. To support your testimonials, make sure you collect endorsements for your skills, too.
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The more current your information, the more visible and searchable you are. Update your status if you publish a new article, are featured in the news, change roles or are attending events or conferences. Share relevant articles that provide insights in your industry.
If you’re busy and social media sharing doesn’t come naturally, set regular reminders for yourself to give your page an update once a month. You can also stay active by liking, sharing and commenting on your network’s posts.
LinkedIn’s Pulse platform is a great way to share your thoughts and ideas in the form of an article post. This helps create better connections with your existing network and also helps grow your network, as article posts may get you noticed from new contacts.
Engaging with LinkedIn communities can also help you become a thought leader in your industry. By answering LinkedIn questions or starting groups, you can help foster conversation and become recognised as an industry expert.