Whether you are entering the world of work for the first time, looking for a new position in the same field or considering a complete career change, refreshing your LinkedIn profile is one of the most important tasks you’ll need to complete to ensure your professional experience is seen in the best possible light by prospective employers.
After all there is a limit to how much can be included on your CV or an online application form. An optimised LinkedIn profile which showcases your expertise is important for applying directly for vacancies listed by companies as well as for appearing in search results carried out by recruitment firms who are seeking the ideal candidate to fill their clients’ roles.
Here are a few tips which you can put into practice right away.
Take your time
Your LinkedIn profile represents your personal brand. It is one of the elements which makes up your online reputation that you will manage throughout your career.
Consider this quote from Warren Buffett, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway:
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
If it only takes a few minutes to ruin a reputation then a few hours invested in your LinkedIn profile is time well spent. You will want to communicate to the reader not only your experiences, skills and qualifications, but also compelling reasons for them to shortlist you over your peers.
Add an up-to-date profile picture
Having a current profile picture is particularly important when it comes to the interview stage of a job application. There is something disarming when you see a photo online which doesn’t match how they look in person. Does your photo show you off accurately?
LinkedIn also allows you to add a banner image. My advice is to research a few of your contemporaries to see which banner images resonate and then to select one from the wide range of free, royalty-free websites, such as www.pixabay.com.
Enhance your profile picture
The #OpenToWork photo frame should be used with caution if you are currently employed as there is a risk that your employer will see your intention to change jobs. LinkedIn states that this ring will only be seen by recruiters, if you select that option, but they do not guarantee it will not be seen by other members.
Personalise your headline
Your LinkedIn headline is more than just a job title. It is important to add phrases which show your specific expertise or the field in which you wish to become known. For example, “Financial adviser specialising in pensions and investments with a particular interest in ethical funds.” For a recent graduate, “Chemistry graduate from Bristol University seeking opportunities in the manufacturing sector.”
The About section
The About section is your time to shine and is where recruiters discover what makes you tick and where you are able to communicate more about the roles which you are seeking and the reasons you should be considered. Write in the first person as if you are speaking directly to your ideal employer.
Avoid using generic language, such as “hard-working”, “driven”, “effective”, without evidence to back up these claims.
Start by introducing yourself, your current position and the value you bring to your current organisation. List your recent achievements, qualifications, skills and experiences, either in a list or in a short paragraph. There is no editing function on LinkedIn so use numbers or a dash to serve as bullet points.
Include activities out of work where they are relevant to your job search. For instance, you may be a member of a sports team which requires you to be a good team player and an excellent motivator with an ability to adapt to different situations.
I advise including your contact details at the end of this section.
The “Featured” section
This section on your profile allows you to include images, documents and links which provide readers with more in-depth insights into your achievements. It is a place to include a portfolio of work
Complete every section
In order to appear in searches the LinkedIn algorithm favours profiles which take advantage of each and every section. The Core sections are: education, positions and career breaks.
In the Recommended include licenses and certifications, courses and recommendations. Additional information adds even more personality to your profile, including:
Honours and awards
Custom LinkedIn URL
At the top hand of your profile, there is the “Edit public profile & URL” link. Edit your LinkedIn URL so that it is easy to remember when you share it. Add it to your CV, to any personal websites you have and to your email signature.
Add keywords and phrases
Once you have completed the first draft of your LinkedIn profile, add keywords and phrases which recruiters are likely to be using to discover ideal candidates. This is particularly important if you are in a highly technical profession where certain qualifications or skills are a prerequisite for applying for a specific position.
Read through several job descriptions of roles you are interested in and very quickly you will see a theme running through the experience and skills being sought.
Ask for help
Writing a professional LinkedIn profile which is compelling, concise and communicates your professional experience and aspirations for the future is challenging. Once your draft is written, ask a friend or family member to read it through or use the services of a LinkedIn profile writer to review it for you. Perfect each section, as recruiters may only glance briefly at your profile and you’ll want to create the right first impression.
Following a diverse corporate career, Amanda has been advising individuals and businesses on the effective use of online communications, specialising in social media and, in particular, the set up and management of LinkedIn for brand positioning and marketing. She provides job seekers with LinkedIn profile writing and coaching on how best to use the platform to find the ideal position to apply for. Her long and varied experience working with clients across a wide range of sectors, means she is ideally suited to helping clients communicate their message with clarity.