Most people know the cardinal rules of creating a LinkedIn Profile: Fill it out completely, be honest, keep the content professional, proofread everything, make connections, and be interactive. Building a better LinkedIn profile that will actually make an impact, however, requires you to go beyond the basics. Here are ten things you can to do jumpstart your job search using LinkedIn.
1. Customize Your LinkedIn URL
Go to your public profile settings and click on the “Customize your public profile URL” link. Then replace those random letters and numbers with a straightforward alias that clearly belongs to you. If it is not already taken, your full name is a good choice. If it is difficult to spell, you may want to eliminate the tricky part by abbreviating it.
2. Make Your Profile Public
If you want recruiters and prospective employers to find you through their searches, then your profile needs to be public. Hearing the horror stories about social media sabotaging someone’s career, most of us put all of our online profiles on lockdown. This site, however, is different and there is no reason to exclude others from viewing this particular profile. Remember LinkedIn showcases your professional self and should reflect the public persona your colleagues interact with every day. There should be nothing scandalous or deeply personal on there (or anywhere online, for that matter).
3. Revise Your Headline
One of the biggest mistakes people make is to list their current job title as their headline. Unfortunately, job titles often do not communicate what you do to those outside your company and do not reflect your larger goals. Instead, describe the type of professional you are in a broader sense while also suggesting the career you want. Keep in mind headlines are not only the first thing most people see but also how opportunities find you. If someone wants to hire someone like you, what search terms would be used? Incorporate the most relevant keywords that accurately represent you. Avoid jargon, extraneous words, and keyword stuffing. Your headline should be concise and compelling.
4. Find a Better Photo
It is possible that you have an excellent profile picture, but, unless your company provides you with professional portraits, there is probably room for improvement. Not everyone can afford a session with a professional photographer, but we all can have excellent profile pictures. Grab someone who has a good eye and get yourself ready as if you were going to an interview. Find an area that is well lit and pay careful attention to the background. You do not need to be in front of a blank, white wall, but there should not be anything distracting either, such as artwork, clutter, or other people behind you. Then, smile for the camera and take multiple shots so you will have options. Keep in mind that this is a profile picture specifically for LinkedIn. You want to project a polished but personable appearance and, regardless of who takes it, a high quality portrait will accomplish that.
5. Give and Receive Endorsements
While recommendations can provide powerful testimony, they can be a bit trickier to collect. Endorsements for specific skills, on the other hand, are a quick way to boost an individual’s profile. Submit genuine endorsements generously and always reciprocate if someone does the same for you. Also, approach trusted colleagues and ask them for theirs. Pursue LinkedIn recommendations as well, but endorsements sometimes carry more weight as long as they come from someone who has actually worked with you.
6. Check Your Profile Stats
LinkedIn provides all members with some information about who has looked at their profiles. The basic free account will show you a list of who has looked at yours according to the privacy settings of that user. You will see a specific person’s profile, someone from (a company, an industry), or an anonymous “LinkedIn Member” designation. If you upgrade, you are also provided a list of which keywords lead someone to your profile and how often, views by industry, and views by geography. Regardless of the account, all of this information helps you gauge your current visibility and can provide ideas about how to improve it.
7. Set activity goals
Everyone says be more interactive, but without concrete goals, our busy lives can easily swallow up our best intentions. Start small and dedicate at least 5 minutes to LinkedIn every day, no matter how much time you spent the day before, and posting three things a week. Sound too modest? Keep in mind that you should set achievable activity goals so it becomes an enjoyable habit, not a dreaded chore. You will be surprised at how much you can accomplish in 5 minutes and how often those minutes multiply.
8. Use Applications
LinkedIn has a number of applications that can provide a more comprehensive picture of who you are and what you are up to lately. For example, Amazon’s Reading List shares what books you have been reading and helps you discover new material by tracking booklists in your immediate network and throughout your current industry. LinkedIn’s Polls app enables you to pose questions and collect the thoughts of others across the site including those who are not direct connections. Also, TripIt’s My Travel allows you to share current and future travel and lets you know when your itinerary corresponds with other colleagues in your network. These are just three of the most popular apps, and if you use the right ones you can add dimension to your profile.
9. Contribute to the Answers Section
The Answers section allows users to ask and answer questions. You should do both. These discussions not only contain valuable information but they also increase your visibility in a meaningful way. If you provide the best answers, LinkedIn will designate you as an expert and you will be featured on the Answers home page and in the categories for each question.
10. Post Original Content
Frequently submitting substantive, engaging content is the best way to elevate your profile and increase your visibility. Always publish high caliber material that is relevant, eloquent, and thought provoking, no matter how brief it may be. Proofread everything and check your facts. Focus on quality, not volume and soon you may find yourself gathering followers, making new connections, and extending your reach far beyond LinkedIn, drawing you closer to the career of your dreams.
Now that you know what to do, go out and improve your LinkedIn. You can find our open roles below by clicking the banner. We'd love to help you find the job of your dreams. Just start applying today!