9 Steps to a Stronger LinkedIn Profile
By Rachel Seitz
In 2017, LinkedIn reached 500 million users from over 200 countries—with more than 10 million active job posts and information on over 9 million companies. All of which means that, whether you’re a recent grad searching for an entry-level job in your field or a mid-career professional looking for a company switch, this site is a powerful tool. You can find job openings, research companies, and be found by recruiters. And the stronger your profile is, the more use you’ll get out of it. Below, we have some tips and tricks to help you hone your LinkedIn page to make it more visible and more impactful!
First, make sure everything’s up-to-date.
This may seem like it should go without saying, but much as with a resume, it’s very easy to let the sections of your LinkedIn profile fall to the wayside. Make sure your experience section lists all the roles you’ve been in (not just what you were doing the last time you were looking for a job). And fill out all your recent accomplishments, organization involvement, and volunteer work. Showing your recent activity both inside and outside of work is key.
While making these updates, use keywords throughout your profile.
Sprinkling the right words into your profile can increase your visibility—and your authority, once people find and view your profile. Utilize key industry words to show the people searching for a graphic designer or a back-end web developer that you actually know what you’re doing.
And while you’re at it, avoid those vague, general buzzwords that are often used but don’t actually tell the reader any helpful details about you. There are so many people claiming to be “focused,” adding your name to that list isn’t going to set you apart from the crowd. Every year, LinkedIn releases a list of the ten most overused buzzwords on their site. The 2017 list includes:
Of course, this doesn’t mean you need to avoid these words at all cost or that they’ll add no value to your profile. There’s even a whole “Certifications” section you should definitely utilize. It’s just that these buzzwords shouldn’t be the bulk of what you write. Instead, place a greater emphasis on words that are industry-specific and showcase what you actually do.
This includes your headline and summary.
Take some time to craft a personal, detailed summary to tell people about you—this is also a great place to use keywords and get your main points across. A quick note, though: part of your summary is cut off unless the reader clicks “Show more.” Keep in mind that only the first 220 characters will be immediately visible on a desktop, and 92 characters on mobile. For more tips on crafting your summary, check out the balance’s Tips for Writing a Great LinkedIn Summary With Examples.
And instead of sticking to a standard job title for your headline, use a more creative description that tells people what you do. Both your headline and summary are often underused, even though they take up prime profile real estate. After all, they’re right at the very top of the page, underneath your profile picture.
And speaking of your profile picture…
Be mindful of your photo as well. Use a clear, professional photo, such as a headshot. Avoid grainy pictures that don’t cast you in a professional light—that picture of you holding a beer while out with your friends is a definite no. It’s also usually best to avoid photos with other people or your pet (unless your line of work involves pets). If you want to add more personality to your page, you can do this with your cover photo (but still no photos of you holding a beer).
But your profile picture isn’t the only place you can use imagery.
LinkedIn also allows you to upload media to your profile. This is a great opportunity to showcase projects you’ve worked on and materials you’ve created for your job. In your Summary or Experience section, link to an online portfolio or website you created or upload projects you’ve completed. Showing is much more effective than just telling.
Take advantage of content sharing.
Besides adding media to your profile that people can view when looking at your page, you can also engage with shareable content. Similar to Facebook or Twitter, you can post text updates and share articles, photos, or videos. LinkedIn also allows you to write an article directly on the site. Be active on LinkedIn by sharing articles (either your own or somebody else’s), or by liking, sharing, or commenting on other posts. The more active you are, the more visible you are, and the more you showcase your authority in the field.
Clean up your URL.
Speaking of increasing visibility, did you know you can personalize your URL? By default, LinkedIn assigns a bunch of random numbers and letters to your URL—which isn’t helpful when you want to appear at the top of searches. But this is an easy change to make. On LinkedIn, head to the menu labeled “Me” at the top of the page and click “View profile.” On the right-hand sidebar, you’ll see a box marked “Edit public profile & URL.” Here you’ll be able to edit your URL to something like “linkedin.com/in/firstname-lastname” to make yourself more findable.
Then, clean up your endorsements and request recommendations.
Endorsements, like summaries, are often underused. That’s understandable, considering the vast array of endorsements that exist and how so many of them seem to be unrelated to what you do. With the right management, though, this section can help bolster your profile. You can remove unwanted endorsements (like that time your college friend endorsed you for “pizza” as a joke) and reorganize them so that the most important ones are at the top.
In addition to endorsing your skills, connections on LinkedIn can also recommend you. To request a recommendation, navigate to the connection’s profile and click the “More” button underneath their heading. In this dropdown menu, you can request a recommendation—or, share the love and recommend that person yourself. Treat your profile as your own personal Yelp page and rack up reviews.
And finally, help people find you outside of LinkedIn.
It’s a big internet out there, and chances are you’re on more websites than just LinkedIn. By linking to these other sites, you can give people a multidimensional view of who you are. There are a couple different methods to add websites and your Twitter account to your LinkedIn contact section.
To add websites—be it a blog, your company’s site, your author’s page for a publication, anything—go to the “Contact and Personal Info” section in the bar on the right side of the page and click the edit icon. In the window that pops up, you’ll be able to add various websites.
A useful trick here: when you select a website type, like “blog” or “company,” these general labels will be what displays on your page. If you’d like something more personalized, such as the name of your blog, select “other” and enter what you want to appear on your profile in the bar labeled “type (other).”
To link your Twitter account, click the menu in the upper righthand corner labeled “Me” and head to the “Setting & Privacy” section. Under “Partners and Services,” you be able to change your Twitter settings to connect your account. Links to both your Twitter page and any websites will be viewable under the “Contact and Personal Info” section on the right-hand sidebar of your profile.
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