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Top LinkedIn Profile Tips
Experience is a great asset when looking for a new job, but it’s not the only thing you’ll need to land your dream position. You’ll also need to become proficient in showcasing your expertise and networking with other professionals to get your foot in the door. These LinkedIn profile tips will help get you on course to get plugged in to your professional community and showcase your best assets to other professionals. Let’s get into it!
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1. Choose the right profile picture
Let’s start with the basics. One of the first things that visitors see when they visit your profile is your photo. Though this may not seem immediately relevant to your competence in the workplace, the photo carries a lot of weight to the average visitor. Make sure to use a professional photo, and tailor it to your line of work.
Many LinkedIn users take professional photos in a studio with a plain backdrop. You can’t go wrong with this approach – no hiring scouts will be put-off by a well-taken professional portrait. However, it’s not the only option out there.
Alternatives to the plain background photo
If you work in an industry that involves a lot of fieldwork, it can add a personal touch to use a profile picture out in the field. For example, if you work at a company that installs solar panels at people’s houses, you might be able to use a photo of yourself at the jobsite. If you work at an animal shelter, a photo of you caring for an animal could help you stand out more than a professional portrait. These types of profile pictures show your commitment to the field and allow visitors to see you in-action.
However, even if you decide to use more of an “action shot,” you should put some care into its composition. Make sure that it is thoughtfully-taken, that you are well-dressed that day, and that the photo turned out well. Try to take the photo very intentionally, rather than using any old picture that you find of yourself in the field.
2. Develop an overarching narrative
As you fill your profile with all of your experience, it’s good to take a step back and find what themes unite all of your accomplishments. If you have worked in five different industries, but held leadership positions in each of them, try to emphasize this common thread.
In your job descriptions, your introduction, and your headline, keep coming back to your passion and experience for leadership. Illustrate how you have practiced leadership in varying situations and adapted it to each set of circumstances. Remember – your experience does not speak for itself. It’s up to you to make meaning of it and show prospective employers how your experience speaks to your character.
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3. Extract keywords from your narrative and use them strategically
Once you have sufficiently developed your narrative, it’s time to investigate the words and phrases that you keep coming back to in describing it. Find some key phrases that best illustrate your strengths and experience, and plant them throughout your profile. Ensure that these keywords carry a real meaning; they should not be general or vague buzzwords, but rather, focused, specific words to describe your specialized skills and qualities.
4. Endorse current and former colleagues
One of the factors that makes LinkedIn unique from resumes and cover letters is its system of endorsements. When it comes to resumes and cover letters, employers just have to take your word for it; you are writing about your qualities and they are reading your argument for your own skills. However, when it comes to endorsements, prospective employers can see what the rest of the world thinks about you.
It’s a good idea to be generous and proactive with endorsements. Endorse classmates, coworkers, friends, and bosses for skills on their profile; chances are, at least a few of them will return the favor. The sight of a large collection of endorsements on your profile will encourage future employers that you have developed a long trail of good references throughout your time working.
5. Complete every section of your profile
LinkedIn profiles are very comprehensive; there are many categories out there to be filled out, and some users, especially younger ones, may not feel as though they have something to add in every field. However, it’s a good idea to try to fill each section of your profile. There are a few reasons to do this.
The first is that filling out your whole profile means that you’re using every possible opportunity to showcase your skills and assets. By going through each section, you are essentially quizzing yourself about everything you may have accomplished that you didn’t even know was worth putting on LinkedIn.
In addition, filling out your entire profile can help you to gain favor in the LinkedIn algorithm. You’ll appear in more searches, and higher in the search results, if your profile is entirely filled out. This means that more prospective employers and other professionals looking to connect will be able to see your profile.
6. Find alumni from your college or university
One of the best ways to utilize LinkedIn is to add a lot of people to your network who attended your college or university. This way, you can be plugged into the school’s alumni network. People who attend the same school as you are often more likely to hire out of their school’s alumni pool. And even if you don’t get hired by a fellow alumnus, you can reach out to them for advice in your field of interest.
Other alumni are more likely to respond if you have connections in common. For this reason, try to add as many people from your school as possible. If you met older alumni during a reunion weekend, or had one as a professor or a teacher’s assistant, make sure to add them to tap into their networks.
7. Use your “headline” strategically
LinkedIn automatically fills in your “headline” – the short bit of text that appears next to your name – with your most recent job title. However, you have the ability to customize this field. It’s a good idea to modify it in order to catch other users’ attention. Try coming up with a 4 or 5-word summary of your ambitions, skills, and/or experience. Put it into general terms so that it shows your versatility, and applies to any sort of position you may be seeking.
This field is a great way to grab the attention of any visitors, and since most users just leave their default job title in the space, it’s a great way to stand out from the crowd!
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8. Don’t forget to include licenses, certifications, projects, and honors received
Remember – LinkedIn is not only about work experience! You can also include other accomplishments, including certifications earned, courses completed, honors awarded, and projects that you’ve worked on. They don’t all have to pertain directly to your professional life. Anything that helps you stand out or could forge a personal bond between you and your potential employer could be helpful.
For example – let’s say that you’re applying to work at a community organization in a role that involves a lot of face-time with community members. Now, imagine that in your free time, you love to knit. If you add knitting into your hobbies, or membership in a knitting club to your profile, you might stand out to an employer who serves a community of people who like to knit. It’s a way of showing your personal interests which may overlap with those of the job you’re applying for.
9. Ensure that your profile matches your resume
An often-overlooked step in the LinkedIn profile process is checking to ensure that your information matches your resume. Oftentimes, your LinkedIn will be more detailed than your resume – that’s totally fine. Job candidates tailor their resumes towards each individual job they apply to, so they will be more specialized and generally include less information.
That being said, you should make sure that all the wording of your job titles and months started and completed line up exactly. Any inconsistencies may appear untrustworthy to potential employers. Remember that although you can adapt the language differently to fit different formats, the basic facts should remain the same.
10. Request recommendations from trusted figures
Recommendations, like endorsements, help offer firsthand testimonials from people you’ve worked with. Make sure to ask potential recommenders in-person beforehand and offer ample time to write the endorsement. When the time is ready, you can request the endorsement directly through the LinkedIn website.
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By now, you should have a good idea of how to build a powerful LinkedIn profile. But remember, your profile is only as good as the way in which you use it! Remember to be proactive in your job search – don’t be afraid to reach out to distant contacts. As long as you are respectful and kind, you will find that people are more willing to talk to you about their careers and help you through the steps than you’d think they would be. Good luck!