Your LinkedIn profile is nearly always the most important aspect of your professional presence online.
Through the platform, you can connect with people in your network, from co-workers to people you meet at industry conferences. Plus, it's a way for recruiters to find you when they're sourcing candidates. You can also expect that hiring managers may view your profile prior to interviews.
Your profile is a place for you to highlight your:
- Employment history
- Skills and qualifications
The more robust your profile, the more likely you are to get noticed.
Your LinkedIn profile can also increase your visibility online and help you build a professional brand that showcases your background to prospective employers. Spend the time to make your LinkedIn profile as comprehensive and compelling as possible.
Here's how to make your profile stand out from the crowd.
Write a Comprehensive and Engaging Profile
If you haven't yet built a profile, here's how to get started. Aim to create a LinkedIn profile that's complete, detailed, interesting, and readable. In fact, you should consider your LinkedIn profile your online resume, with all the same information as your regular resume and more.
Add a headshot to your LinkedIn profile. This photo should represent the “professional you,” as opposed to the “casual you.” LinkedIn isn't the place to show off your dog or significant other.
Don't forget to make your profile public—that's how the world can find it. Also, customizing your URL will give you a link that's easy to share on your resume and with employers and connections. If your name is available, use it.
Highlight Your Experience in the Summary
The "About" section of your LinkedIn profile is a great way to highlight what makes you unique and valuable to your industry. Think of this section as being similar to a resume summary statement.
Don't forget to fill in the "Headline" section, since it is right at the top of the page when someone views your profile. If applicable, it is appropriate to mention key professional certifications, bilingual skills, or key accomplishments. Select an industry, because recruiters often use that field to search.
If you're unemployed, there are several strategies you can use to present your current employment circumstances. Carefully consider options before you decide what to include and when you should update your profile.
Use Your Resume to Write the Experience Section
In a nutshell, the "Experience" section of your LinkedIn profile is your online resume. When formatting your LinkedIn profile, it is important to include employment (current and past), education, and industry. While you might not include every job in your past on a traditional resume, it is appropriate to include your entire work history on LinkedIn.
To quickly create a LinkedIn profile, review your resume and copy/paste the relevant information into your profile.
It's essential that your resume matches your profile because prospective employers will check. However, when you get more time, make sure to add as much as possible to your LinkedIn profile.
Employers expect your resume to be somewhat condensed and specific to the job you seek. But your LinkedIn profile should be more vast and complete.
Showcase Your Skills
The "Skills & Endorsements" section is an important component of your profile. It's a way that recruiters can find you and how your connections can see, at a glance, your core competencies. In fact, your profile is more likely to get viewed if it includes skills.
Just like you did with the "Experience" section, you can use your resume to get started with a list of skills to include. Focus on the skills that highlight your strongest assets and are most relevant to your career goals.
Another approach is to read your past job descriptions or the job descriptions of jobs you seek. Include any keywords you find that are relevant to your skills and experience.
Take the Time to Request Recommendations
It's worth the effort to request LinkedIn recommendations. Recommendations from people you have worked with carry a lot of weight. To a potential employer, a LinkedIn recommendation is like a reference in advance.
One way to get recommendations is to give them. When you recommend a LinkedIn member, you are attesting to their qualifications, and people love being recommended. They will most likely reciprocate if you take the time to recommend them. Another way to get recommendations is to request them from your former bosses (so long as you still have a decent relationship with them), mentors, and/or college professors.
Don't ask people you don't know for LinkedIn recommendations.
Include Your Accomplishments
Use the "Accomplishments" section of LinkedIn to highlight projects you've worked on, publications you have contributed to, languages you know, and other credentials you have earned.
Include Volunteer Experience and Causes
A LinkedIn survey reports that volunteer experience can give job candidates an edge with hiring managers. 41% of the professionals surveyed stated that when they are evaluating candidates, they consider volunteer work equally as valuable as paid work experience.
Twenty percent of the hiring managers surveyed have made a hiring decision based on a candidate's volunteer work experience. To add the "Volunteer Experience and Causes" field to your LinkedIn profile:
- After logging in, click "Profile" at the top of LinkedIn.
- Click the "Add Sections" button.
- Select "Volunteer Experience" under the "Additional" section.
- Click the plus button and then fill out the applicable fields.
What Not to Include in Your LinkedIn Profile
When you're creating a LinkedIn profile, it's important to stand out from the job searching crowd. You don't want your profile to read exactly like everyone else's. Here are the top 10 terms that are overused by professionals based in the United States, courtesy of LinkedIn.
Turn off Linkedin Activity Broadcasts When You're Job Hunting
You don't need to advertise the fact that you are job hunting, especially when you're employed. When you are job searching and don't want your employer to know that you're updating your LinkedIn profile, it's a good idea to turn off your activity broadcasts. Here's how to set your account, so your updates don't show in your feed:
- Click Settings (Under your profile headshot on the top right of the page)
- Scroll down to the section "Visibility of your LinkedIn activity," and then look for “Share profile updates with your community.”
- Move the button from “yes” to “no.”
Examine all the other viewing features on this page to see if any other privacy features apply.