We've talked about how to market yourself on LinkedIn, and the basis for connecting to opportunities is building your profile. You need to represent yourself in a way that lines up who you are with what you do. Your profile is a key way to build your brand.
For maximum effectiveness, you should show the impact you've made throughout your career. Look at your profile as the story of you! Always write this story in first person, and create short, concise paragraphs. Use bullet points to represent key details like skills, accomplishments, and results.
First things first, you have a few easy settings to complete. Check your visibility settings to make sure you’re sharing everything you’d like to. There's no point in having a stellar profile if no one can see it! Then, post a profile photo that can help people find you and confirm that you're the right person. Finally, you might want to set up name pronunciation if you think others will need help saying your name.
Now that those are out of the way, we can start crafting your best LinkedIn profile.
Craft a standout headline
The headline is a short one-liner that appears beneath your name in your profile. It also appears every time you publish content on your feed, so you want it to be catchy. This headline can differentiate you right off the bat since it's the first thing people will see. Use industry keywords and highlight any skills you have--you might even get some ideas from industry leaders' headlines.
Keep your industry and location current
Did you know that more than 300,000 people search by industry on LinkedIn each week? People can search by industry keywords as well as location, so you need to keep your information updated. According to LinkedIn, profiles with industry information receive 9 times more profile views than those without it.
Show you’re open to work
Are you interested in hearing about job opportunities? Let recruiters know by inputting your preferences and marking yourself "open to work." You can specify job types and titles, select whether you're looking to start immediately or just browsing, and choose your location. Just remember, while LinkedIn does have settings to prevent your current employer from seeing your choices, it's not foolproof.
Create your profile summary
Your profile summary is your elevator pitch-- a 30-second overview of who you are and what you do. It should be concise and speak to your mission, motivation, key skills, and experience. Don't forget to include those industry keywords!
This is not the time to be shy or demure. Share your accomplishments and aspirations, and make yourself shine. Tell about who you are, what you do, why it matters, and the impact you want to have moving forward.
LinkedIn says that the profile summary is the number one thing recruiters look at when browsing for candidates, so make it a good one. Writing at least 40 words helps you be found more easily. But you don't have to stop at words--add in some photos, website links, videos, or presentations that you've made.
Showcase your accomplishments with work experience
Like a resume, your work experience will be listed from current to oldest. Make sure your current position is posted! Profiles with this get 8 times more profile views. That means recruiters, hiring managers, mentors, and colleagues looking for you will be able to locate you. In addition, having updated work experience for past positions leads to 5 times more connection requests than not listing them. There are new connections to be made, and you want to encourage those networking opportunities.
When describing your work history, highlight your results, impact, and changes you were able to implement. Explain, in plain language, what you do and how it makes a difference. LinkedIn says that a best practice is to write paragraphs, not just bullet points. Your history doesn't need to read like a resume--remember, this is the story of you!
Add skills and get endorsed
LinkedIn's ability to add skills allows you to highlight your abilities, strengths, and expertise in different areas. Here you can establish credibility and trust in your professional experience and showcase things you can do that no one else can. Profiles with 5 or more skills listed get 17 times more profile views. Don't focus so much on hard skills that you forget to mention soft skills that employers are looking for!
Once you have your skills listed, get endorsed by your first-degree connections. Being endorsed shows that others recognize your expertise and increases your opportunities for future connections, jobs, and requests.
Use recommendations to build credibility
Possibly the most underused aspect of a LinkedIn profile is the recommendations section. It's okay to ask for recommendations! Your connections can recognize your great work and tell how your skills, strengths, and experiences have made an impact. But do think about who you want to ask in your professional community. Make sure the recommenders are people who worked closely with you and can vouch for you. When asking for a recommendation through LinkedIn, you can customize your request to ask them to focus on a specific project or skill of yours.
Don’t underestimate volunteer experience
Over 40 percent of hiring managers view volunteer experience as equivalent to work experience. Adding it to your profile helps to round out your professional story, even if it’s not directly related to your work history. To make the most of your experience, add the organization you volunteer for and a one-to-two sentence description of the work you performed.
Don't stop there!
The above points are just the basics for creating a stellar LinkedIn profile. You can add any publications, awards, honors, and more. Take some time to do a deep dive into all the facets of your profile and all the customizations LinkedIn offers. The more information you can share about yourself and your work experience, the better your chances of making new connections and being tapped for opportunities.