I hate to tell you this, but if you treat LinkedIn like an old-fashioned Rolodex, you’re wrong.
Almost every industry uses LinkedIn to find and assess candidates, and more than 90% of recruiters rely on the site, according to data from the Society of Human Resource Management. So your profile cannot just be a storage unit for business contacts – it must be a living and breathing record of your professional life.
We’ve rounded up the best LinkedIn profile tips for getting an employer’s attention and shaping how they think about you. “People need to know who you are and what you do,” says Donna Serdula, owner of LinkedIn-Makeover.com. “It’s your reputation online. Take control of it.
Head: Leland Bobble – Getty images
1. Know what to include (and leave out)
There are a few things that belong to every profile, according to LinkedIn career expert Blair Decembrele.
Users who mention their training appear in searches up to 17 times more often than those who don’t. Location is another important detail: filling this field with where you want to work will show you up to 23 times more searches, she says.
Another must-have is a professional looking photo. Profiles with a photo get up to 21 times more views and up to 36 times more messages, according to Decembrele. And a summary, an “elevator pitch” with at least 40 words that speak to your skills, motivation, and interests, will also help grab a recruiter’s attention.
Your LinkedIn title also deserves some attention. If you are actively looking for a new position, consider how you can use this space to grab a recruiter’s attention. There are a million profiles of “Marketing Director”; something like “Master of Digital Pharmaceutical Marketing” will get a lot more eyeballs.
2. It’s a social network. So be sociable
LinkedIn can be a powerful networking tool, if you allow it.
Instead of just saving the connections you’ve made throughout your working life, actively engage with contacts by liking, sharing, and commenting on their activity.
It’s good to connect with someone you’ve never met, says Serdula. But be sure to send a personalized message in your invitation. She suggests something like, “Hey, Steve! We don’t know each other, but we’re both in sales, and I’m really impressed with what you do. I would love to log in.
If it is difficult to engage with LinkedIn during the work day, Serdula suggests downloading the site’s mobile app and browsing it during your downtime.
“A lot of my clients say, ‘I wasn’t using LinkedIn until it was on my phone,’ she says.. “Now they’re networking in their pajamas. “
3. Nail the voice
Your LinkedIn profile is a chance to add personality to your professional history, so don’t make the mistake of copying your resume verbatim.
Serdula says the best profiles are usually written in the first person (“I’m a PR whiz, trusted by the biggest names in Silicon Valley”), but other styles can work as well. If you work in sales or marketing, a second person (“If you want to know how we can influence change, visit my brand’s website”) can help you engage potential customers. And executive-level professionals, or anyone with a long list of accomplishments, may feel more comfortable writing about their success in the third person (“John Smith is an award-winning author”).
Take a minute to think about your target audience. Is it a potential employer? New clients? Adapt your voice accordingly and try not to be too dry.
“Write it like there’s a real person behind it, not ‘a dynamic professional with 30 years of experience in the field,’” says Serdula.
Make sure the work experience you are highlighting is up to date and relevant to your career. It’s fine to include volunteer work where you’ve developed skills that would be appealing to an employer, but the summer you spent as your kid’s soccer coach, or the series of restoration jobs that you got busy in college, won’t do you much good.
“Relevance is the key,” Decembrele says. “Add experience that relates to your future professional goals.”
4. Keep your profile alive
If you want your profile to stand out, you’ll need to update it often with examples of your work. Articles you’ve written, projects you’ve completed, and presentations you’ve made are all good options.
You don’t need to have a traditional office job or a creative portfolio for this to work. Just find something you’re proud of and make it visual, like photos from an event you planned or a video of a panel discussion you attended.
The whole idea, Serdula says, is to get your audience to engage with you in real life.
“A really successful profile makes a person want to do something – pick up the phone and call you, click a link to a website, download a white paper,” she says.
5. Hacking the LinkedIn job search
There are more than 11 million active job postings on LinkedIn, according to Decembrele. Spend some time browsing the concerts that interest you and note the specific skills they require.
Often, recruiters search LinkedIn for the keywords in the job description they are trying to fill. If you add some of these words to your skills section, summary, and work experience, you will bring them to you.
“Including at least five relevant skills will help you grab the right opportunities,” Decembrele says.