LinkedIn is tricky to navigate, and everyone has their own opinion as to what works. How much or how little information should you include? Will recruiters care about that temp job from 10 years ago? What skills will help you to stand out and get noticed? Here are 6 tips to help you get the most out of your LinkedIn profile:
1. Attention-grabbing headlines.
Your headline is not only the first thing people see on your profile, it is used in LinkedIn's search algorithm so that recruiters can find you more easily. Make the most of your 220 characters by including your job, skills and experiences in a concise way that highlights your unique value or ambitions. For example: “ITIL-Certified Technical Support Manager | Specialises in Systems Security & Disaster Recovery” or “Second Year Law Student with practical legal experience and customer service background seeking internship”. And while you’re at it, edit that URL so you don’t have 20 numbers after your name – it looks much sharper.
2. Selfies are not professional.
Your profile picture makes your whole online presence seem more trustworthy and professional – so make sure yours is a good one. You don’t need to hire a photographer, but there are some basic rules you should follow. If you use your phone's camera, get someone else to take the photo for you (a selfie feels unprofessional). Crop the photo so that it only shows your head and shoulders. Wear work-appropriate clothing. Stand in front of a plain background with appropriate lighting. Smile!
3. Keep the summary simple.
Ever heard of an elevator pitch? Yes, you need one, and it should be short and sweet – and relevant. Don’t write about every subject you aced in high school, or that reception role you held 15 years ago which has nothing to do with the job you just applied for. Basically, your summary should let recruiters know who you are and what you have to offer in a few sentences and bullet points (try to include facts and figures). Create a short but cohesive story of your job history and future career goals, and try to include a recent achievement, your main strengths or specialisations, and some industry keywords to make yourself more searchable – but lose the jargon.
4. Experience doesn’t mean just paid work.
Explore the different sections on LinkedIn. You can add memberships, internships, professional training, and volunteer experiences – these are all valuable ways to stand out from the crowd and create a well-rounded profile while showcasing transferable skills and unpaid experience. Link each experience to the relevant company (if they have a LinkedIn page). And use current tense for your current job and past tense for your past jobs. Common sense, right? Make sure there aren’t any unexplained gaps in your history, incomplete or inconsistent information (like missing dates or errors), or discrepancies between your LinkedIn profile and your resume – because recruiters will look at both. Any red flags could mean the difference between getting that interview or getting rejected.
5. It’s still about who you know.
In a world of fake profiles and resume bots, building online legitimacy is essential to getting headhunted. Profiles with only a dozen or so connections are viewed as less trustworthy since connections are effectively endorsements of your professional achievements. Most people average between 200-1000 connections in their network. Start by connecting with your friends, co-workers, people in your industry, and people from your school or university. You can also reach out to contacts of your contacts, people you meet at social events, and people who work in companies where you are applying for a job. To add even more legitimacy to your profile, you can also ask for recommendations, such as short references from former managers or positive feedback from clients.
6. Advertise your availability.
Use LinkedIn's “Open To Work” feature to let others know you're on the hunt for a new job – you can even set it so that only recruiters will be able to see this (and your current workplace won't be alerted). Using this feature means you’re much more likely to be contacted about potential opportunities. And the stronger your LinkedIn profile, the closer you are to landing that dream job.