Alright, the time has come for you to create your magical LinkedIn profile in our blooming age of the internet. But what if you do it wrong? LinkedIn is truly like no other popular social media. How are you supposed to know all the unspoken rules that come with having an account? Well, we have some good news for you. We’ve gone ahead and compiled a list of 18 things that you should include on your profile to make sure it’s one of the latest and greatest.
1. Put in the time to make it amazing
Simply put, the more complete your profile is, the better your odds are that recruiters will find you in the first place. So, completeness is important from that standpoint. It’s also important after a recruiter has found you and decided to click on your profile. He or she wants to know what your skills are, where you’ve worked, and what people think of you.
So, (and we can’t stress this point enough) don’t get lazy. Fill out every single section of your profile. The good news? LinkedIn will actually measure the “completeness” of your profile as you work and offer suggestions on how to make it stronger. We recommend that you aim for at least an “advanced” rating on the LinkedIn scale.
2. Get a custom URL
It’s much easier than you might think to publicize your profile with a customized URL. Ideally, it will look something like linkedin.com/yourfullname, rather than the clunky combination of numbers that LinkedIn automatically assigns when you sign up.
How do you get one? On the Edit Profile screen, at the bottom of the gray window that shows your basic information, you’ll see a Public Profile URL. Click “Edit” next to the URL and specify what you’d like your address to be. When you’re finished, click Set Custom URL. Voilà! You now have a new custom URL and made marketing yourself that much easier.
3. Choose a great photo
Choose a clear, friendly, appropriate, and professional image, and pop that baby up there. Not sure what “appropriate and professional” means? Take a look around at what the people in your target company, industry sector, or business level are wearing. Match that. (Pro tip: “If you can show yourself in action, do it.”
Still unsure about that tip, well take it from this guy who’s done it. “A photo can go a long way to convey passion, energy, charisma, empathy, and other soft skills that are hard to write about.”
If you decide not to choose a photo in action, at the very least do yourself a favor and DO NOT choose a selfie. Selfies, especially those with Snapchat flower crowns, are most definitely not included in the “appropriate and professional” category. Still looking for inspiration, we have some more tips here.
4. Write a headline that will grab their attention
Your headline doesn’t have to be your job title and company. In fact, it shouldn’t be, especially if you’re looking for jobs. Instead, use that space to succinctly showcase your specialty, value proposition, or your “so what?” The more specific you can be about what sets you apart from the competition, the better.
5. Use target job descriptions to your advantage
Take a look at the job descriptions of the positions you’re after and dump them into a word cloud tool like Wordle. Notice any words that stand out? They’re likely what recruiters are searching for when they’re looking for people like you. To make it easy for recruiters to find you, make sure those words and phrases are sprinkled throughout your summary and experience.
6. Don’t waste the summary space
Writing your LinkedIn summary can be hard, but Career Horizons has summarized perfectly what you need to include. “Ideally, your summary should be around 3–5 short paragraphs long, preferably with a bulleted section in the middle. It should walk the reader through your work passions, key skills, unique qualifications, and a list of the various industries you’ve had exposure to over the years.”
7. Use numbers right upfront
American Express OPEN Forum couldn’t describe what we mean any better. “Much like the rest of your resume, you’ll want to highlight past results in your summary. When possible, include numbers and case studies that prove successful. Social media consultant and speaker Wayne Breitbarth, for example, quickly establishes credibility with his audience by stating in his summary’s second sentence: ‘I have helped more than 40,000 businesspeople—from entry-level to CEO—understand how to effectively use LinkedIn.’ Never underestimate the power of a few key stats to impress a reader.”
8. Avoid buzzwords like the plague
What do the words responsible, creative, effective, analytical, strategic, patient, expert, organizational, driven, and innovative have in common? They’re the most overused buzzwords on all of LinkedIn. Come on, we know you can be more creative!
9. Treat your profile like your resume
Your resume isn’t just a list of job duties (or, at least, it shouldn’t be). It’s a place to highlight your best accomplishments. The same goes for your LinkedIn profile! Make sure your experience section is fleshed out with bullet points that describe what you did, how well you did it, and who it impacted.
10. Show your achievements
Recruiters spend countless hours scouring LinkedIn in search of the high performers. When they find them, they contact said performers. Knowing this, you’ll serve yourself well to market your accomplishments. Think action words and talking about times you’ve been promoted or hand-picked for projects. It can, and will, make a difference.
11. Include a current job entry, even if you’re unemployed
The University of Washington claims “if you’ve only listed the past positions you’ve held in the experience section but show nothing current, you’ll probably get missed in most searches. Why? Because most recruiting professionals exclusively use the current title box to search for candidates; otherwise they’d have to sort through thousands of candidates who held a certain role (for example, graphic designer) as far back as 20 or more years ago. The simple workaround, if you’re unemployed, is to create a dummy job listing in the current section that includes the job title(s) you’re targeting—‘Full-Time Student/Financial Analyst in Training’—followed by a phrase like ‘In Transition’ or ‘Seeking New Opportunity’ in the Company Name box.” We here at BrandResumes completely agree with this tactic.
12. Add multimedia to your summary
The Business Insider said “a picture truly is worth 1,000 words, especially when it comes to showcasing your work. LinkedIn lets you add photos, videos, and slideshow presentations to your profile summary. So instead of just talking about your work, you can show examples. Or show yourself in action. Or share a presentation.
Click ‘Edit profile,’ scroll down to your summary, then click on the box symbol, then ‘add file.’” And to be honest, why would you not want to do this?
13. Add your work experiences
You should try to add multimedia to each of your work experiences as well. Add company websites, projects you’ve worked on, articles you’ve drafted, or anything else that can provide more multimedia to demonstrate your work.
14. Add projects, volunteer experiences, or languages
Do you speak Mandarin? Have a project management certification? Volunteer for Dress for Success every weekend? Adding these “additional” profile features (listed on the left when you’re editing your profile) is a great way to showcase your unique skills and experiences and stand out from the crowd.
15. Make sure people can find you
Don’t forget to add your email address (or blog, or Twitter handle, or anywhere else you’d like to be found) to the contact information section of your LinkedIn. You’d be surprised how many people leave this off!
16. Grow your network
The point of LinkedIn is to connect with others, right? Once your account is built up, start adding those you know. Connect with coworkers, friends, and even connections from your alma mater. Those in your network don’t necessarily have to be exclusively those within your industry.
You never know when someone you went to school with may make for a great business connection in the future, so it’s important to add all types of people to your network.
17. Follow industry leaders
Are you really interested in the tech industry? Then be sure to follow business pages such as Google and Apple while also being sure to follow their respective company leaders. By following major players in your industry, you can be up-to-date on what’s happening in your industry.
18. Add strong skills (and get endorsements)
One of the biggest aspects of your profile that recruiters are looking at is your list of skills. To help recruiters find your account and to better your chances of finding a job through LinkedIn, look at the most sought after skills within your desired job listings.
Like any other social media, there are rules and methods to using LinkedIn to effectively promote your content and yourself. However, unlike most social media, you aren’t showcasing your latest vacation or that new outfit you just bought. You’re highlighting your professional success and accomplishments. If you follow these 18 tips, we’re confident that you can do just that. (And for extra help, check out this article too.) Good luck!