Recently I contributed to a Reddit thread designed to assist someone in bringing their LinkedIn profile up-to-scratch. I didn’t know much about the individual besides the fact that they were mid-career, and looking to implement LinkedIn for the first time. They asked: “How can I use this site without looking cheesy or face-booky?”
It got my brain thinking. LinkedIn is a tool (the good kind), but only when utilized in the right way. So let’s talk about how to set up your LinkedIn profile to best assist your career. In this post we’ll discuss how to treat LinkedIn, how to write your summary, and some nitpicky details that can help you to position yourself in the best way.
What makes LinkedIn different than other social platforms, like Facebook?
The platform can be a bit intimidating. Even if you have experienced other social media platforms, that doesn’t necessarily set you up to succeed on this platform. How would someone approach LinkedIn as compared to Facebook, for example? Very differently.
While it is obviously a social platform, LinkedIn’s niche is the professional space. It’s a job tool.
Would you want to tell your boss that you had a 4 Fireball shots straight last weekend (disgusting)? Probably not, and as such, that type of post has no place on LinkedIn. Not even classy drinks, like mimosas.
Tip #1 – Never post drama on LinkedIn! Always keep it professional, friendly, and experienced.
What Makes LinkedIn Great
At its core, you as the user have a personal profile page that you can fill with your information. Even better, in a lot of cases, when someone Googles your name and location, your LinkedIn profile will pop up within the first page of search results. Controlling that web property that comes up on the first page of Google is hugely valuable. Potential bosses, employees, and acquaintances might see this. And you have the control to make it shine. Own it!
In most cases, you can think of your LinkedIn profile as your resume on steroids. What’s on your resume, improved, with even more information to create a better display of your background than a simple one-pager ever could. Plus, with LinkedIn’s current format, you have a plethora of sections that you can fill out with your information.
Currently, the LinkedIn profile includes a section for you to show a personal summary, detailed work history, educational background, certifications, courses, patents, test scores, projects, contact preferences, volunteer work, personal hobbies, publications, test scores, honors, awards, organizations, etc. In short, a lot more information than a one-page resume can offer.
If you haven’t already, you need to create your profile. You’re a tad behind the times, but we can get you all caught up.
Tip #2 – Fill out as many of the sections that apply to your background as fully and honestly as possible, always putting a positive light on everything you’ve done.
Even if the job / volunteering / job searching sucked, what did you learn? If it’s 100% negative, it probably shouldn’t be on your profile anyway. Positive, Positive, Positive!
Structuring Your Summary
You want your profile to get the attention of your viewers, and keep it because of your experience.
Although the different modules of profile can be configured via the drag-and-drop editor, I recommend that the first thing your readers see is your Summary.
There are a plethora of ways to approach this, but I view the summary as a three-part entity.
- Welcome visitors to your profile and introduce yourself
- Give your readers more information about you, your company, or your work background
- Call for action
In part one of your Summary, welcome people to your page and tell them a bit about yourself in a friendly way. For example, my page has the following introduction:
“Hello and welcome! I am the Marketing and Recruitment Manager at Keyhole Software. But as a member of this tight-knit software development and consulting firm, I fulfill various roles within our organization. All things communication you might say.”
There’s always room for improvement, but in general I think the structure works. It’s informative, friendly, and light.
Now I have a question for you: What is your personal goal with your LinkedIn profile? Are you seeking a new job, looking to network, looking to find potential employees, seeking to create new business opportunities? Find a way to integrate what you’re looking to get out of it into your summary. Let me explain.
One of the main things I utilize my profile for is as a communication method with potential members of my team (i.e. recruiting). I’m obviously biased, but I think my team rocks. The key is getting that point across to the readers of my profile.
I’ve told them about what we do in a positive way so that it seems like a great place to work. (Which it is!) They know what we do, how I fit into it, and that it’s a great place to work.
Another example of part two is a way to explain a varied work history. Maybe you are a full time software developer, but had a period of time over one year that you do not have listed employment. Looking at a profile with that background could be a detractor. Call out your history and explain it in your words, on your terms.
Now you’ve told your readers what you do in section two, you can now tell them what you’re looking for out of your profile, and invite them to participate. A call to action!
Please reach out to me directly if you have an interest in joining the Keyhole team or would like more information about what we do. I look forward to connecting with you. Have a wonderful day! <<insert contact information here>>
Tip #3 – Be keyword-heavy within reason. Want to pop up in a recruiter’s search for “manager?” Then it needs to be on your profile. Do you work with a specific piece of software that applies to other companies, like a scheduling software or framework? Include it.
Nitpicky Tips To Consider
Tip #4 – Have a profile image of yourself. This needs to be you, alone, facing the camera (mug shot style, but with a smile), in professional clothing. Don’t let the background be too distracting, and never, ever show too much skin. Professional pictures are worth the investment, or even find a local photographer trying to get their feet wet.
Tip #5 – Make sure your location is set to the accurate area! I have seen so many peoples’ set to the wrong one, and that is a huge loss in my opinion.
If your location isn’t set to the correct city and you do not have a picture, people from your past will have a harder time determining that your profile belongs to you (and not your doppelgänger) and be less likely to connect. If it’s set to the wrong city, searches by recruiters that might have been your perfect job will pass you by.
I received an interesting question on Reddit about this:
What if I am living in one location, but would like to be hired in another? Or am open to a few others (but not where I currently am)?
To be honest, there probably isn’t a 100% right way to do this. If it was me and if I had one city where I was set on living, I would put that as my current location. If there were multiple cities that I was considering, I would list my current city, but then updating my summary to include those location details as the first thing that you see when looking at the page. (For example: Hello and welcome! My name is Lauren Fournier and I am a ___ professional who is seeking my next fantastic opportunity in ___.)
Additionally, I might join LinkedIn groups in the city that you’re seeking to move to that are related to your profession. Start networking! Plus, some recruiters search based upon the group members, and then you would pop up in those searches.
Until Next Time…
That’s all for now. Stay tuned for Part Two where I will discuss how to highlight your job experience in the best way for the LinkedIn platform, with tips to stand out from others in your field!