LinkedIn is widely used in the professional world, with 94% of recruiters reporting that they use the site to vet candidates. So, it’s very important to have as part of your professional identity.
For professionals and job-seekers building web presence, LinkedIn is an absolute must. The site is widely used in the professional community, and provides a medium for you to make your credentials and skills easily searchable. However, it’s not enough to have a LinkedIn profile; follow these steps to make sure your profile is an asset to your web presence, rather than a disservice to it.
First things first, you’re going to want to customize your LinkedIn profile URL if you haven’t done so already. To do so:
- Move your cursor over Profile at the top of your homepage and select Edit Profile.
- You’ll see a URL link under your profile photo like www.linkedin.com/in/yourname. Move your cursor over the link and click the Settings icon next to it.
- Note: “Update your public profile settings” will show up if you don’t have a public profile. Learn how to enable your public profile.
- Under the Your public profile URL section on the right, click the Edit icon next to your URL.
- Type the last part of your new custom URL in the text box.
- Click Save.
Your LinkedIn profile photo should be a high-quality headshot of you in professional attire. Smile! Also, choose a picture where you’re making eye contact with the camera. It may seem trivial or silly, but this will help future employers get a sense of your personality, and feel a connection. This is enormously helpful, as employers search for someone with good fit for their organization. Also, as you’re taking the photo, remember that LinkedIn will crop it to a square.
Your headline, which will display beside your photo in search results, is your 120 character hook to draw potential employers and connections to your profile. The default on LinkedIn is for your headline to be your current employment. Personalizing it will add a personal touch, and it will differentiate your profile. According to LinkedIn, your headline should say what you are, who you help, how you help them, and give proof of your credibility. LinkedIn also warns of the four deadliest headline sins: having a cheesy headline, a confusing one, a boring one, or a desperate one.
Still looking for inspiration? Here’s a template to get you started:
I am a [subject matter expertise] who
[does what] for [client, company audience, project]. The proof is
[experience, education, GPA].
Your LinkedIn summary is a 2,000 character opportunity to introduce yourself. Other elements on your LinkedIn profile are fairly rigid and straightforward; your summary is an opportunity to show some personality!
So, now that you know why you should write a summary, here are some tips for writing an effective one:
- Tell people what they can expect from you; describe what you do for someone unfamiliar with you job, and tell the world why you’re credible in that role.
- Fill it out! Use all 2,000 characters if you can.
- Break it up with headers, sub-headers, and graphics.
- Include your contact info at the end. Some people also add some personal interests or hobbies at the end.
Got writers’ block? Here are some template ideas to get those creative juices flowing.
Experience & Education
This is the more straight-forward part of your LinkedIn profile. Use these sections as a dynamic, fleshed-out résumé. Keep your career goals in mind while you work on these sections, and tailor your profile accordingly; if you’re an aspiring translation freelancer, you may decide to not include your former career as a concessions stand attendant.
As you work on these sections, here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Be sure to link to the company or institution.
- Use prose, not bullet points.
- Keep entries to a 2-3 sentence summary.
- Start with an overview.
- Front load your achievements. Is there a project or major win you can brag about?
- Describe how you brought value to your team
Once you have the aforementioned basic elements of a LinkedIn profile, you can snazzify and supplement your profile by adding media, such as PDFs, videos, and images. You can add these generally, or associate them with a particular position.
(If you want to extensively integrate media with your LinkedIn profile, I highly recommend setting up a SlideShare profile that you can connect.)
Now that you have a gorgeous and dynamic LinkedIn profile, you need to use it! Join LinkedIn groups relevant to your industry or background (for instance, the MIIS Alumni LinkedIn group), and post periodically in these groups so that professionals in your industry begin to see your posts. Also, consider following companies and organizations in your field, especially if you’re interested in working for them.
There are many more ways to improve and better use your LinkedIn profile. For instance, you can create a localized profile in another language, add a video, and search/apply for jobs.