With 2017 rapidly approaching, many professionals are starting to think about finding a new position or making a career change in the New Year. With 87 percent of recruiters using LinkedIn, a fully optimized and updated profile is a great place to begin!
Author’s Note: This article is a complementary piece to the highly praised 17 Resume Improvement Tips for 2017 published on November 22, 2016.
Be Visible, Be Relevant, and Get Found
A beautifully written LinkedIn profile is a wonderful tool and can help tip the scales in your favor, but only if recruiters can find your profile easily. LinkedIn’s search algorithm takes into account many different factors which should not be ignored when writing or updating a profile.
- Pro Tip 1: Develop a functional and attention grabbing headline. You have 120 characters to work with, so make them count. A common mistake is to forego commonly-searched keywords in favor of a creative tagline. Why choose one or the other? Put a bit of thought and research into creating a headline that is both unique and keyword rich.
- Pro Tip 2: As a prospective jobseeker, you should avoid LinkedIn’s default recommendation of putting just your current job title and company name in the headline. Think about it from a recruiter’s perspective and use terms for which they would search.
- Pro Tip 3: Take advantage of your profile’s “Summary” section. The content in this section heavily impacts search results, so make sure to complete it!
- Pro Tip 4: Write a compelling “Summary.” Of those LinkedIn users who do write a summary, many draft only one or two anemic paragraphs. You have 2,000 characters worth of space, so beef up yours with relevant and interesting content enriched with meaningful keywords.
- Pro Tip 5: Choose your “Skills & Endorsements” carefully. Adding pertinent skills to this section can help you be discovered. Recent changes to LinkedIn’s platform have also made this section more useful by informing your viewers when you have been endorsed by others with related expertise.
For more keyword tips, check out An Often Overlooked Keyword Tip for a Better Online Job Search by Joshua Waldman.
Style and Writing Skill Matter
No one likes to read a poorly written publication. The same holds true for badly written or boring profiles. Make sure to impress your reader and keep him or her engaged.
- Pro Tip 6: Put your high school and college writing courses to good use. Proper use of grammar (and spelling) are critical if you are to be taken seriously. If you do not take the time to master the basics, why would an employer think you would put in the effort to master a new job? If writing is not your forte, there are highly-qualified professional resume/profile writers who can help you up your game.
- Pro Tip 7: Format for screen reading. Large blocks of uninterrupted text can be hard on the reader’s eyes and should be avoided when writing your profile. For a few examples of how to use white (or negative) space effectively, check out 3 Stunningly Good LinkedIn Profile(s) by Andy Foote.
Write for Your Audience:
Just like your resume, your LinkedIn profile should be targeted effectively. Do not make the mistake of assuming your reader (a prospective employer or recruiter) will understand obscure industry lingo.
- Pro Tip 8: Don’t just write, translate. When discussing your experience and accomplishments, write in a manner that someone without industry expertise would understand. Keep in mind that some recruiters and human resource personnel do not always have an intimate knowledge of your business.
- Pro Tip 9: Get to the point. Many prospective recruiters and employers will not take the time to read through lengthy or elaborate job descriptions. Keep the info you provide concise and easy to comprehend.
- Pro Tip 10: Be an achiever. Include quantifiable and qualitative accomplishments for each of the positions you list.
- Pro Tip 11: Project your projects. Utilize the “Projects” section on your profile and tie them back to the employers you worked for when you completed them. Make sure to backlink the projects to other websites when possible.
Pictures are Worth a Thousand Words:
Everyone loves visual aids. If you don’t want to lose your reader’s attention, make sure to include plenty of relevant and unique pictures, graphics and other stimulating material.
- Pro Tip 12: Link to previous employers and educational institutions. Using this function will infuse useful content for a reader to explore, while also adding an image to accompany your written content.
- Pro Tip 13: Don’t just talk about credentials, show them off. Images of degrees, certifications, awards, and other accolades can help them to stand out, which will increase the odds that your reader will be impressed by them.
- Pro Tip 14: You need a good profile picture! This is basic, but too many LinkedIn users upload an inappropriate picture or omit one altogether. Keep it simple: a traditional head shot (chest/shoulders and up) while you are dressed professionally and smiling is usually the safest bet.
Be a Well-Rounded Candidate:
A LinkedIn profile should complement, not duplicate, your resume. While some information may exist on both documents, its presentation should be varied and your profile should add to your value as a candidate.
- Pro Tip 15: Add a sense of personality. While resumes are generally quite formal, LinkedIn profiles should be written with a personal touch and from a first person perspective.
- Pro Tip 16: Complete ancillary profile sections whenever possible. Include volunteer and community involvement, supported organizations, professional affiliations, etc. A fully completed profile can increase the chances that you will be found by recruiters and also help with future networking.
Send the Right Signals
For some, it can be difficult to show that you are interested in finding a new position without sending up red flags to your current employer. With wisely chosen words and actions, subtle cues can indicate to recruiters a willingness to consider new opportunities without announcing to your current boss that you are thinking of leaving. If needed, a skilled profile writer can help you strike the appropriate balance.
Pro Tip 17: Utilize the new “Open Candidate” feature when setting up your profile. This can indicate that you wish to be contacted by recruiters about opportunities and is generally not viewable by your connections from work. This feature also allows you to indicate the type of position you wish to be contacted about, which may cut down on unwanted contact from head hunters outside of your interest areas. For more info about this feature, read Benefits and Drawbacks of LinkedIn’s “Open Candidate” Feature by The Five O’clock Club.
Once you update your profile for 2017, it is important that you remain active on LinkedIn and maintain your profile for best results. For more tips on how to do this, check out The Remedy for Underperforming LinkedIn Profiles: Job Seeker Edition.
If you found this article helpful, please be sure to share it with your LinkedIn and other social media networks.
About the Author:
Adam Zajac, NCRW is Head Résumé and LinkedIn Profile Writer and Executive Recruitment Strategist for Vocamotive, Inc. He is 1 of only 54 Nationally Certified Résumé Writers in North America and is an expert career development professional with over 11 years of industry experience. As a proud member of the National Résumé Writers’ Association and leader of the career development team at Vocamotive, he has successfully assisted thousands of job seekers, career changers, and business executives achieve their professional goals throughout the United States.
Follow Adam on LinkedIn at: www.linkedin.com/in/adamzajac
Contact Adam via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org