You may be thinking that LinkedIn is just another social media platform; however, it is so much more than that. We all spend so much time perfecting our Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat profiles. The profile pictures must be just right, we play with the settings to ensure privacy is the way we want it, we talk about our kids, discuss our relationships, update our job statuses, and spend hours organizing the photos into neat albums. In fact, we should be spending our time on LinkedIn, instead.
LinkedIn has over 600 MILLION registered members in over 200 countries. These registered members are all professionals talking about their companies, seeking job candidates and, yes, some members are seeking jobs. In fact, some companies only list their job openings on LinkedIn. If you’re not on there, then you’re missing out. If you’re on there but you haven’t taken the time to perfect your profile, you could also be missing out.
The goal with your LinkedIn profile is to get it to what they refer to as ‘All-Star’ status. Here’s what you need to do that:
- A profile photo
- Industry and Location
- An “About” section
- Skills – LinkedIn allows 50, but you have to have at least 5
- At least 50 connections
Your profile picture
Considering those first impressions are everything, then the photo you choose for your LinkedIn profile is of utmost importance. Most career coaches recommend a professional photographer. That’s not necessarily accurate, though.
If you work in a professional setting
If the position you seek is a professional, office-type, or executive position, then you should hire a professional photographer. If a professional photographer isn’t in the budget, then have a friend take a picture of you. Instruct them how you want to be framed in the photo, and make sure there’s no weird background to distract viewers.
Alternatively, you can choose the best picture you have — just make sure it is a picture of you and you alone. Don’t crop someone else out of it or leave a levitating arm dangling around your shoulder.
If you work in a creative setting
If you are going into a field that requires you to be creative, then be creative with your profile photo. Just remember to keep the creativity of your profile photo slightly muted so that it’s not overwhelmingly distracting. You don’t want hiring managers trying to figure out what’s going on in the photo when they should really be reading your profile.
If you work in an industrial/manufacturing setting
A great profile photo for you would be one in which you are outdoors or even in the place you work. There’s a vast difference between people who work indoors and people who work outdoors. Use your first impression to demonstrate that you’re not afraid of being outside.
The bottom-line for profile photos
Discussing profile photos can go on and on. The general idea is to make your profile photo match what you do the best way you can. Make sure it’s clean, not overly distracting, and that it’s only you in the picture.
The recommended size for a photo uploaded to LinkedIn is 400×400 pixels. LinkedIn does say that it’s okay to upload a larger photo as long as it’s square and doesn’t exceed 8MB of 4320×7680 pixels.
Your professional headline (120 characters max)
Headlines grab our attention. They make us want to read what’s in the article. Sometimes, though, the headline tells us all we need to know. This is the same with your LinkedIn headline. You want it to grab their attention and make them read, you DO NOT want them to read it and move on because then you’ve just lost.
Most people don’t take the time to write a custom headline. In fact, most headlines on LinkedIn simply say, “Team Leader at ABC Company.” Recruiters and hiring managers are seeing 100s of profiles that have the exact same title. You have to write a headline that makes them stop. You want them to think, “Wait … what?!” That will make them read your profile.
LinkedIn allows 220 characters for your headline, including spaces. Utilize this space to say who you are by listing your target Job Title and then a short blurb that says how you do what you do.
Here are a couple of examples of the headlines Always Typing has written for clients:
- “Cunning entrepreneurial advisor, trade expert, & venture capitalist with a track record for ethical success.”
- “ICAT System and Healthcare Project Manager Working Toward Technological Innovation and Improved Patient Care.”
Use those 220 characters to your advantage. It is valuable real estate that gives your LinkedIn profile curb appeal.
Your profile summary - "About" section (2000 characters max)
The professional summary is the next section on which to spend a bit of time. Generally, a professional summary on a resume is written in a very professional (some might say “stuffy”) tone. With LinkedIn, it’s a little different. The summary is a GREAT place to showcase your wittiness and creativity. Use your voice in a way that invites open dialogue from colleagues, recruiters, and prospective employers.
One thing to keep in mind is that 2000 characters are a limit, not a goal. Always Typing consistently begins writing profile summaries using a quote that’s relevant to a job seeker’s field. For example, a profile for a Regional Manager in the field of sports memorabilia could be started with a quote by Vince Lombardi.
Work Experience (10 years max)
Julius Caesar said, “Experience is the teacher of all things.” Prospective employers believe the same thing. So, how do you reflect what you’ve learned through experience? You pay close attention to detail in your work experience section and highlight achievements.
Why should you highlight achievements?
No one cares what you were supposed to do (i.e., were responsible for) at your previous job. They care about what you actually did that made the place you were at better. In fact, please delete the phrase “was responsible for” from your vocabulary.
Also, it is supremely important to spell out acronyms. Spell out ones that you know everyone knows — even simple ones like Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) for someone’s resume. Leave nothing for them to wonder about because if they’re trying to figure out what that acronym means, they’re NOT reading your profile.
Your education section
You’d think the EDUCATION section would be pretty self-explanatory; you’d be right. Of course, you should follow the tenet that says to start with your most recent education and work backward. DO NOT include high school. As previously mentioned, spell out acronyms, this goes for the name of your school AND your degree. So, a BS from NSU should be Bachelor of Science from Northwestern State University.
What do you do if you didn't go to college?
That’s OK. None of the fields are required and you can type out the name of the school. As you type the name of your school, you’ll notice that LinkedIn tries to auto-populate the field. If you went to Bob’s School of Tire Tread, LinkedIn may not recognize it to populate it but it will still let you type it out.
Adding skills to your skills section
Raise your hand if you’ve heard that employers only take about 6 seconds to determine whether to read or toss a resume. Silly, no one can see your hand is raised. The online world moves MUCH faster.
That is one of the reasons the skills section of your LinkedIn profile is so important. Once a recruiter or prospective employer has decided to stop at your profile after scrolling through 100s of profiles, they scroll right to this section to see if you’re worth further reading. Also, those skills are searchable on Google.
How many skills should you list?
As previously mentioned, you need at least 5 to gain the coveted All Star status.
LinkedIn allows up to 50 skills and there are 2 things you’ll notice:
- As you type a skill in the box, LinkedIn will populate some suggestions
- LinkedIn will give you a list of “Suggested skills based off your profile.”
While you want to populate hard skills, don’t forget about those soft skills and technical skills such as time management, team building, leadership, CRM’s, MS Office, G-Suite as these highlight important criteria to hiring managers, too.
How shareable are you - customize your LinkedIn profile's URL.
Inevitably, LinkedIn will add a string of numbers to the end of the URL to your profile making your address appear like this: https:www.linkedin.com/in/name-a989034. Who wants that?!
You can personalize the URL to your profile!
Simply click the link to “Edit public profile and URL” and then type what you’d like it to be.
To maximize professionalism, use some version of your name. If you have a super popular name (John Smith, for example), it may become difficult to customize using just your name. In that case, try adding your middle initial or use some type of abbreviation for your location or even your industry (i.e., John Smith CPA).
Now your LinkedIn profile address will be https://www.linkedin.com/in/name and you are ready to start getting noticed by hiring managers and recruiters.
If you need help, drop us a line.
Of course, all of this can be a lot to take in — especially considering that we haven’t even talked about accomplishments, certifications, publications, honors, and projects.