Perfecting Your LinkedIn Profile: Try These Tweaks to Boost Your Professional Presence
Post a suitable photo.
It’s key advice from LinkedIn experts, who say reviewing and tweaking vital sections of your LinkedIn profile can improve the impression you make online, regardless of your status as a job seeker.
Chris Brown, Director of Talent Management Solutions for LinkedIn Canada, says the numbers prove the value of polished profiles – profiles with pictures get 20x more views. Conversely, profile pictures with long shots, cartoon avatars, and photos with pets can decimate your chances of attracting a potential employer.
Fixing the visual faux pas is one of many ways to boost your presence on the professional network, which has grown since its inception in 2003 to over 530 million users in 200 countries.
Here are a few others:
Abstract and title
Your resume is the best place to sell yourself, so make the 2,000 characters count. Brown recommends creating an informal summary of your professional background.
“Write down what you love about your job, what you want to represent as a person, not just the job you have today,” he says.
All the experts recommend writing in the first person, formatting with short, easy-to-navigate paragraphs, and proofreading spelling and grammar.
Koula Vasilopoulos, District President for Western Canada at employment agency Robert Half, suggests visiting the profiles of those you respect in your industry for inspiration.
LinkedIn trainer Leslie Hughes adds that job postings can also be helpful sources.
“Research your dream job and see if you can find any similarities and keywords and weave them into the story,” she says.
Use keywords in all sections, and again for the job you want as well as for what you have.
“I include at least one important keyword in the title, summary, and past positions,” she says.
At the same time, watch out for overused words. LinkedIn has released its annual list – the first three are “specialized”, “leadership” and “passionate”.
Titles are crucial. Bruce Powell, managing partner of Toronto recruiter IQ Partners, recommends going beyond the job title to include a value proposition.
“Determine what makes you unique. This is your ultimate first selling line and it should be a value statement,” he says. Ms. Vasilopoulos adds that if your formal title is obscure, such as “class 2 analyst,” include a more common term like, say, “IT manager.”
Experience and update
In your experience section, add details that go beyond your employer’s name and dates. “Explain what makes you unique, how you contributed, how you exceeded expectations, and how you helped your company achieve its goals,” says Powell.
Quantify performance with sales figures or other concrete details.
Ms. Vasilopoulos adds that if you have been with a company for a long time, list your various promotions and update them regularly. “A few times throughout the year, it’s a good idea to reflect on key accomplishments and incorporate them.
Recommendations, networking, visuals and updates
If you’re already at superstar level (LinkedIn’s highest level of completion), there’s still more you can do. Look for recommendations to help you provide what Hughes calls “social proof” of your performance.
Expand your network with the tool’s suggestions and by searching for names you know. While opinions abound on how you should know about potential hookups, experts unanimously recommend warming up hookup requests with a personalized note.
Mr Brown adds that active job seekers in particular should “follow” companies they are interested in, as recruiters can see interactions with their company pages.
Powell says hiring managers will also check your connections to see who you know in your industry. “It’s a benchmark economy: people like to validate their level of comfort with individuals based on their connected community.”
Adding visuals, including images, PowerPoint presentations, work samples, and videos, can help your profile stand out. Especially if you’re looking for a job, a video biography can help, Brown says. Ms Hughes agrees, adding that even smartphones can create adequate video, but pay close attention to lighting and sound to avoid looking amateurish.
In the long run, writing articles and sharing content can also help build your voice and your brand. “The benefit is that a hiring manager can see what they’re writing about and believe. It helps to get a sense of people’s expertise, so if you’re passionate about what you do, write about it. “, says Mr. Brown.