LinkedIn is the hottest career development tool out there right now. It is where Recruiters and HR personnel are looking for candidates. Whether you are passively looking, or actively engaged in a job hunt, making sure you have an enticing LinkedIn Profile that effectively advertises you is essential.
Here is a brief guide to improve your profile and help you stand out to employers.
By default, LinkedIn lists your current job title as your headline. Crucial mistake. This section is the most searched section on LinkedIn’s platform especially by recruiters and HR. This headline is your big advertisement to market yourself to the world. It needs to be well thought out, concise, and strategically written. It uses words that will attract someone to check you out in the search. But first, they must find you. In your headline, use the appropriate job titles you want to hold. Use a straight slash – l – between each job title. You can also add the industry you want to work in.
For example, Mary, 57, was a career counseling client who was stuck at the Director level and kept getting passed over. At 57, she needed to make a move and needed help with LinkedIn. She said, “I never realized you could optimize your headline. Certainly, I never thought of using it to target where I want to go.” So we developed this headline:
Healthcare Consultant l Vice President Pharmacy l Vice President Healthcare l VP Pharmacy
Caution: when you add a new job to your work experience, there is a checked box that automatically changes your headline to this new job title. Be sure to uncheck it, so the new headline you have created does not get erased.
The Summary or ABOUT section
People are only able to see the first few sentences when they come to your page before they need to hit “show more,” so those opening sentences need to pull the reader in and grab their attention. Write your summary in the first person, as it’s designed to display your personality. Think about how you would talk and introduce yourself to a new colleague. You may have some impressive background or something a boss or client has said about you that you wish to emphasize. Focus the reader quickly because if you don’t capture their interest right away, they’ll go away. It must be immediately apparent to any reader what value you offer. They want to know who you are and what is unique about you. State that quickly in a friendly voice. Call-to-Action is the best way to end. Either describe the job you seek or ask people to connect.
Use a background photo
Want to look like you are tech-savvy, smart, and cool? If you go to your LinkedIn page, you’ll notice that behind your photo is the default background. It is blue with some faint white dots and lines that is quite boring because everyone has it. The good news is that this background can be changed. LinkedIn allows you to customize a background to your profile photo. By changing this background, you’ll give your profile page a big boost, individualize yourself, and stand out from the crowd.
Put some thought into how your background should look. What is the right image you want to portray that will support your personal brand? Then select a photo that will complement your photograph. Common backgrounds are of cities you live in, places you have been, a business scene, or abstract background.
Here are the background dimensions for posting. The desktop size is 1584 x 336 pixels, but a lot of that will get cropped off on smaller screens if people are using their smartphones. A more suitable size is likely 1000 x 120 pixels. This is a long narrow photo you are uploading to use as your background picture. Be sure it has good resolution.
Choosing your personal photo
You need a terrific, current headshot on LinkedIn. Resist the temptation to use a picture that was taken years ago. I don’t advise my career counseling clients to invest in a professional photoshoot as it is an expensive option. With the capabilities we have on smartphones or with friends who love photography that have DSL cameras, you can get a perfect photo. The goal is to look warm and engaging.
Take a headshot with a plain background. Nothing else should be in the picture but your head, neck, and possibly the top of your shoulders. Wear professional attire. Think business dressed-up causal, or how you would dress if you are visiting a big client or going to see the CEO. Makeup will help you look more youthful if it’s applied well. It is essential to SMILE. Everyone looks better in good lighting. Try taking your photo outside. A cloudy overcast day yields an excellent picture. If you take the picture inside, make sure your face is fully lite from all sides.
Recruiters read recommendations
This is a vital section that most people overlook, forget about, or have not had anyone recommend them in recent years. Think of bosses, co-workers, staff, or vendors who will say great things about you. You want to get at least five recommendations up on LinkedIn; more is better. Many times if you write a recommendation for your connection on their profile page first, LinkedIn’s system automatically tells the connection they have a new recommendation and asks if they want to return the favor. This kind of nudges the person into writing one for you.
The skills endorsement section is where your connections click to say you have that talent. It is the easiest area to change. You can edit the skills you want to add to your profile. To begin, determine what the important skills for the next job you seek are. You can then use the edit function to add these in if they aren’t there. You can also change the order of those skills you do have by moving a skill up. This is a good idea if you want people to pick a specific skill that you think should stand out more.
Resource: Here is a more detailed and comprehensive article on Guidelines for Creating an Effective LinkedIn Profile