LinkedIn has been around longer than most platforms (including Facebook), yet it tends to get ignored in the social media noise. Don’t be fooled. Sometimes dismissed as ‘Facebook for work’, this platform can be a valuable tool for building and advancing your career. It’s great for networking, making business connections and – best of all – finding jobs. The key to all of this lies in LinkedIn’s ability to build your online brand. Free of opinionated comment streams and embarrassing party photos, it’s all about showcasing your professional experience and expertise.
There are over 540-million people on LinkedIn, so the better you manage your profile, the more likely you are to get noticed. Try these steps to create a profile that works for you.
Add a professional photo.
A photograph of yourself in professional clothing can make all the difference, according to career experts at Harvard University. Their research shows that profiles with photos are 14 times more likely to be viewed.
Write an attention-grabbing headline.
Displayed directly under your name, this short description tells other users what you do and why it’s of value.
“Shoot for a headline that sums up your speciality or approach succinctly and supports the professional brand you’re cultivating,” says Kylee Lessard – and as LinkedIn’s Product Marketing Manager, she should know.
Craft a compelling summary.
Situated right at the top of your profile, this larger text area offers users an overview of your professional life.
Aim for 40 words or more, including keywords and focusing on your career accomplishments.
“If the headline is your salutation, then the summary is your media-enhanced elevator pitch,” says Lessard. “What do you really want readers to know about you, if they read nothing more?
Professionally speaking, what’s your purpose? Think along these lines when you craft your profile summary.”
Showcase your work experience.
LinkedIn’s own research found that you are 12 times more likely to be noticed if you have more than one position listed here.
Add skills and get endorsements.
Put your network to work and ask your clients and colleagues to endorse your high-level and niche skills. (And don’t forget to return the favour!)
Include volunteer work.
Just because you didn’t get paid for it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have value.
LinkedIn researchers found that almost half of all hiring managers view your volunteer work as being equivalent to formal work.
Get verified and get noticed.
As with any other social media platform, the more you put into your LinkedIn profile, the more you will get out. So stay engaged and keep your profile up-to-date.
Jane Fleming, another member of the LinkedIn marketing team, suggests two ways to take your profile from looking like an online CV to looking like you’re an industry expert who every smart employer would want to hire right away.
First, get verified. “A skills assessment is an online test that enables you to demonstrate the level of your skills, and display a Verified Skills badge on your profile,” she explains, pointing to data indicating that candidates with verified skills are significantly more likely to be hired for the roles they apply for. “Displaying proof of your abilities strengthens your personal brand more generally as well,” she adds.
The good news is, you don’t have to show the results of your skills assessments if you don’t want to – and you can retake the tests as often as you like. Second, share your insights. “The Publications section is one of the most under-used elements in LinkedIn profiles,” says Fleming, “and that means that you can really stand out from the crowd when you use this feature to draw attention to existing thought-leadership content.”
So, if you’ve written a post on your company’s blog, or if you just have some industry insights you’d like to share, use that Publications section to elevate your profile. Curating and updating your LinkedIn profile may sound like work, but it doesn’t have to be. As Lessard says, “The good news is, even if you don’t consider yourself a social media darling, you can create a professional brand that impresses all who view it – and you can do it in just a few minutes a month.”
How to make the most of LinkedIn, the social network that works hard for you