You need to be on LinkedIn. So many hundreds of millions of people have joined. These days, it looks strange not to be at the party. 98% of recruiters use it as a database and employers regularly access it to check out candidates. Your LinkedIn profile is also a fantastic way to build your personal brand, create a persuasive online presence, source new leads and network virtually.
But merely having a profile is not enough. It has to be stellar to make you stand out.
Use visuals for impact
Access our blogpost entirely devoted to this topic here. In short, use a smart headshot, customise your background banner, use the feature function to showcase blogs and vlogs, utilise symbols and other formatting, and link to logos.
Get a custom public profile url
Linkedin assigns every user a clunky url full of random characters and numbers. Alter this to a shorter one which is easier to put on CVs, business cards and websites. LinkedIn also has a badge to place on your website. Your url will start www.linkedin.com/in – but you can add more individualised wording after that.
Make the headlines
Most headlines are just a current job title as this what LinkedIn auto-fills. But the headline offers more character space which you can use to reference other experiences, qualities and values. Leaving it lonesome is a missed opportunity to make a striking and powerful statement. Consider “Speaker and Blogger on Parenting” and the more memorable tagline of “Solo Dad, Writer, Public Speaker, Blogger, Master of Ceremonies, Advocate for Equality and Change.”
Call to recruiters
LinkedIn has a spot which allows you to show that you are open to job opportunities. Limit viewing rights so that only recruiters can see this, as you presumably do not want your current boss to have advance notice of your plans.
Your LinkedIn profile has an ‘About’ section near the header. Many leave this blank or under-optimise by discussing solely a current job position. Neither of these approaches gives a sharp overview or entices busy people to press on. You need to create a hook fast because other profiles are just a click away. For a sparkling start, use this opening section as an elevator pitch distilling your career to date and targeting your offering.
Your LinkedIn Profile ‘Experience’ section should tell your professional story using compelling language. Access our blogpost on word choice here.
- Summarise key achievements, accomplishments and attributes
- Quantify success – instead of “grew sales”, state “grew sales by 50%”
- Use bullet points to break up the text and leave white space
- Be selective about what you cite. People want to a quick scan, not a deep read
- LinkedIn has a separate part for honours, awards, courses, publications, languages so you can place info under those headings to avoid cluttering the ‘Experience’ section.
Skills and recommendations
Audit your character and career to ascertain what you can bring to the table. Recruiters often search using keywords and job ads list required core competencies. Do you have them? You can also ask for endorsements for these skills or more specific recommendations from other LinkedIn users to increase your credibility.
Log in frequently and join groups related to your subject area, education or interests. Post updates or at least make pertinent comments on posts in your feed. Keep it professional – you could refer to business books/articles you have read, seminars given or attended, or the latest statistics and industry developments.
Know when to disengage
LinkedIn is for business so omit snaps of holidays, social evenings out, weddings etc. Beware of releasing confidential information or stating anything embarrassing to an employer. And this is not the forum to air grievances.
Refrain from descending into heated online exchanges or unnecessary point proving – disagree politely. LinkedIn has a digital footprint so anybody can scroll through your activity and draw unflattering conclusions based on off-the-cuff remarks. To err on the side of caution, review your LinkedIn history and delete anything that could come back to haunt you.
LinkedIn is a good way of staying in touch with people you already know. But it is also an effective means of widening your network.
If you ask a stranger to connect, add a reason why it would be beneficial to accept your invitation. After all you would not march up to someone, foist your business card on them, and then stalk off in silence. Perhaps you have a common acquaintance, a shared employment field, similar volunteering or a passion for a cause. Whilst tempting to link to anybody anywhere, in the long run your time is more efficiently spent nurturing valuable contacts that you can leverage.
Your LinkedIn Profile In Summary
Creating a LinkedIn profile is akin to planting a garden. Once the spade work is done to get it in shape, you still have to keep pruning and tending. But it looks great when it’s in bloom.