LinkedIn – Building a Killer Profile
I won’t beat the hell out of the rigor mortis “social media is important” horse. It goes without saying that someone on the hunt for a new job MUST have a stellar LinkedIn Profile. As a result of being the most widely used recruiting platform in the world, LinkedIn is without a doubt THE greatest professional networking and self-marketing tool in the job-seeker’s arsenal.
1) Build your LinkedIn Profile from your Resume
It is critical that your resume and LinkedIn profile communicate the same message. The chronological data (order, years worked, etc.) as well as the responsibilities and accomplishments should be a mirror image of one another. Discrepancies will only serve to raise unnecessary red flags with a potential employer.
2) Stay on Topic and Keep it Brief
Remember that the average recruiter or hiring manager spends about 6 seconds scanning your resume. Your LinkedIn profile is no different. Keep the content short and to the point.
- Ensure your profile is relevant to the type of job you’re applying for (If you’re looking for a job as a technical support specialist, don’t ramble on and on about your experience as a bartender)
- For the positions from your job history that bear no relevance to the one you’re applying for, use only one or two short bullets outlining your responsibilities and/or accomplishments – don’t steal real estate away from your more relatable positions
- Bullet points are your best friend in conveying accomplishments and responsibilities
3) The 10 year rule
When it comes to LinkedIn profiles or resumes, leave your employment history to the last decade unless a particular position demonstrates a highly relevant set of skills or experiences that none of your more recent roles can.
- I apologize if it offends you (I’m required to by Canadian law), but nobody cares that you seated tables at IHOP in 1992 and it most certainly won’t help toward finding your dream job
4) Optimize your Profile with Keywords
Just as website owners must concern themselves with making their sites search engine friendly, so must you when it comes to your LinkedIn profile. It is extremely important to keep your prospective employers in mind when you create your online presence via LinkedIn. What search terms might a potential hiring manager or recruiter use when trying to fill the job you have in mind?
- Do a Google search for the type of job you want to apply for and look at several posts
- Make note of specific keywords used frequently in the majority of the job descriptions
- Ensure your LinkedIn profile includes those common words in some form or another
- If you currently possess the skill or have accomplished the item described in the keyword(s) (i.e. installing, configuring and administering Small Business Server) include a bullet point under each one of your positions outlining that experience
- For a skill you do not yet possess, you can say something (perhaps in your Summary) stating that your goal for this year is to attain Skill X or work with Technology Y
- The point is to keep your LinkedIn Profile loaded with keywords specific to the job you want so that recruiters and potential employers find your name at the top of their searches
5) Toot your Horn
- Monetize and / or quantify your accomplishments where possible (i.e. “saved XYZ Company $15,000 in tech support calls over previous year by implementing a ‘Reboot your computer before you call the helpdesk’ policy” OR “Increased sales by 15% over 2012”)
- Posting the company’s profile under your work history might bring your current or former employer more customers, but it will do nothing toward getting you hired – make it ALL about you
6) Have your Horn Tooted by Others
Don’t be dirty. I was referring to getting recommendations for each of the positions on your LinkedIn profile.
- You will need to be connected with someone before they can write you a recommendation
- To manage and request recommendations from contacts, highlight the main menu at the top and select ‘Profile’ à Recommendations
- Try to get 1 or 2 solid, thoughtful recommendations from reputable sources (direct or indirect managers, senior staff, clients, etc.)
- If your request for a LinkedIn recommendation is to someone extremely busy (executive, etc.), you can try offering to write it for them and simply have them edit and cut & paste it into your profile
7) Strike a Pose: Include a Photo
Sources at LinkedIn state that profiles with a professional photo included are seven times more likely to be discovered during a search.
- Smile or at least try not to look like you just shanked someone on the cell block
- You can never go wrong by wearing formal business attire for your photo
- No party pics – I have seen far too many LinkedIn profile pictures of people that are clearly a few servings of “grandpa’s cough medicine” into their night. You may think you just look happy, we can tell you’re hosed.
- Avoid group photos – we know you love your husband / wife / girlfriend / boyfriend /dog, but you wouldn’t take them to a job interview, would you?
NOTE: I’ve had some candidates ask whether or not to include their picture on their LinkedIn profile due to their age or their appearance. My response is that if a company is going to discriminate against you for your appearance or age, it will either happen when they visit your LinkedIn profile or when you get to the interview. You might as well get it out of the way early. You’re better off without those companies anyway.
8) A Few Items That Should be Included on Every LinkedIn Profile
A keyword-rich Summary section that reads like a sales pitch all about YOU
- Focus on your major accomplishments and areas where you really shine
- Keep it short and sweet
- Have your potential employers in mind when you write it – try to imagine what kind of light it will shine on you
A strong skills section
- This provides another opportunity to add keywords that make you more searchable via LinkedIn and other search engines
- People you’re connected to can ‘endorse you’ with a click of their mouse, lending further credibility to your skills and abilities
- Be sure your accurate geographical location is reflected so local employers can find you
- At the VERY least, ensure your email address is publicly viewable on your profile – note this is not the case by default
- Under ‘Additional Info’ at the bottom of your profile, you can edit the section marked ‘Advice for Contacting [YOUR NAME]’ to include your email and / or phone number
- I suggest including a cell phone number or home phone number as well so you’re easily reachable
- Adding your email address to your professional headline makes you easier to connect with and contact (Professional headline is located to the right of your picture and underneath your name at the top of your profile)
9) Proofread (for the love of all that is holy!)
Have a friend, relative or colleague give your LinkedIn profile the ol’ once-over. Telling a potential employer you’re a ”had worker” or “an experienced consultaint” will seriously harm your chances of a good first-impression.
- Pro tip: Be sure to use a friend, co-worker or family member who speaks the language natively and has a strong grasp of spelling and grammar