How to build a LinkedIn profile that will help you land the job you want
While you hunt for your dream job, it can be easy to ignore your LinkedIn profile. After all, your cover letter and CV are doing most of the legwork, right?
Actually today, that’s not the case. Your LinkedIn profile is more important than you may realise, and you should treat it as an equally important must-have when looking for work.
You never know who might come across your profile, so it’s wise to ensure that it’s up to date and professional written, whether you’re actively seeking a new role or are simply open to anything that may come your way.
And importantly, those LinkedIn all-stars had a 71% better chance of getting a call back for an interview.
So if you have your sights set on a new role, don’t ignore your LinkedIn presence. Follow this 10-step guide and write profile that will attract and impress the right people.
1) Take a professional photo
If you don’t already have one, take a current, professional shot for your LinkedIn profile. Don’t be tempted to simply reuse a photo from your Facebook or Instagram accounts – instead bear in mind the purpose of your LinkedIn profile.
Your page serves as a digital representation of your professional self, and the photo you choose should reflect that. To choose the right photo, opt for a high-quality image that shows you in a business-casual setting and where your face takes up the majority of the frame.
2) Choose an eye-catching headline
The best LinkedIn profiles make the most of every available space. So choose a headline that best represents what you do professionally.
Whether you’re currently employed or are on the job hunt, your headline should stand out and be easy for recruiters or other connections to quickly get the gist of your profile. It needs to catch people’s attention but also represent who you are professionally.
3) Write a compelling summary
On LinkedIn you can read summaries that are several paragraphs long, while others barely skim a couple sentences. So which is right? As a general rule of thumb, you should aim to write anywhere from two to four paragraphs.
Use your summary space to give people an idea of who you are, what you’re capable of, and what you have achieved. It needs to be short enough to be enticing to read, but detailed enough to give an impression of who you are and what your potential is.
One good strategy is to answer the four whats when planning your summary:
- What are your biggest accomplishments?
- What are your values and passions?
- What are your super skills?
- What makes you different?
4) List your experience
One of the most important parts of your LinkedIn profile is your experience – the jobs you’ve held to date. Make sure you give this adequate time and attention.
Include enough detail about each role (and your accomplishments in it) to give potential employers and clients a realistic and positive impression of your capabilities.
It’s important to be truthful here. Remember that your profile is public – so former colleagues, clients and managers will be able to see what you write. And they won’t be impressed if you exaggerate your responsibilities or achievements, or worse – lie or take credit for someone else’s work.
5) Make the most of your skills
You can have up to 50 skills on your LinkedIn profile, so do your best to use every one! To get started, brainstorm what skills were required for the jobs you’ve held. If you find yourself reaching the 50-skill limit too quickly, consider if any of your existing selections can be combined into one skill.
For example, rather than listing “Microsoft Word,” “Excel”, and, “PowerPoint,” individually, combine all of those skills into one and list, “Microsoft Office,” as your skill.
Once you’ve chosen the skills you’d like to include on your profile, make sure you check-in regularly to remove any outdated skills, or make room for new ones.
6) Customise your URL
Did you know that you can customise your LinkedIn URL? So rather than having a long list of numbers, your URL can be specific to what you do, or based around your name.
With a custom URL, your profile will be much more accessible to others searching for your profile. It also looks better on CVs and when shared as a link.
To edit your URL, navigate to the Edit Profile view, click “Edit” next to Public Profile URL, and type in your new URL.
7) Connect with your peers
Once you’re happy with your LinkedIn profile, start connecting with people you know. This can be current and former colleagues and clients, and even friends and family members. Aim to connect with at least 50 other users to get started, and continue to expand your network as you come across more people you’d like to connect with.
But don’t simply add anyone. Try to make sure your connections are relevant to you or your work.
If you’re struggling with adding genuine connections, consider allowing LinkedIn to access your email contacts. From there, you can send connection requests to people whose email addresses are already in your contact list.
8) Send and ask for endorsements
Endorsements are a quick and easy way to spread the love on LinkedIn. If you’ve had a good experience working with or for someone, or they have a particular skill, then endorse them for it on their LinkedIn profile.
One good thing about endorsements is that they’re often reciprocal. Because they’re quick and easy people will often repay your kindness in endorsing them by endorsing you back.
So if you want to impress visitors to your profile, start proactively endorsing others, and waiting for reciprocation. Or you can be more direct and ask people to endorse you for specific skills.
9) Ask for recommendations
Heard of the phrase ‘social proof’? It basically means giving evidence that other people have benefited from or endorse you and/or your work. This proof is reassuring and motivates others to trust you.
It’s based on the psychological principle that we prefer to follow the crowd – to conform to group behaviour. Or put simply: if everyone else is doing or thing something, then it must be right, so you want to do the same.
It’s social proof that encourages us to choose to dine in a busy restaurant over an empty one, and to buy from an Amazon seller with 350 four-star reviews over a seller with one five-star review.
So how is this relevant to your LinkedIn profile?
LinkedIn offers you an opportunity to leverage the power of social proof via your recommendations. Recommendations are much more involved than endorsements, and appear as testimonials on your profile for others to read.
Recommendations are a great way to highlight your skills and achievements, and to show potential employers and clients that you have a long list of happy clients and colleagues willing to vouch for you.
So if you haven’t already done so, actively start building your recommendations. Reach out to people you have worked with or for, and ask if they’ll write one for you. Or you could write one for them, and see if they return the favour.
10) Be active
Once you’ve written a profile you’re proud of, make sure you stay active on LinkedIn. While it’s easy to view your profile simply as another tool in your professional toolkit, it’s worth remembering that it’s a social networking site.
So use it to network! Connect with people, engage with other people’s posts, and post your own interesting and useful content on there. Show people that you are knowledgeable and active. Be helpful and useful to others, and they’ll reciprocate.
Join LinkedIn Groups too, and be helpful and knowledgeable there too. Answer questions and share your expertise. Be seen as a trusted authority.
Not only will all the above help to grow your network on LinkedIn, but if a potential employer or client comes across or searches for your profile, it (and by association, you) will look impressive.
Need help with your LinkedIn profile?
Ready to polish up your LinkedIn profile but love some step-by-step guidance?
Our online LinkedIn course shows you what to include for each section, and even shows you how to find the right keywords to include in your profile, and how to test your LinkedIn headline to find the one that attracts the most hits.
Start now and you can have a LinkedIn profile you’re proud of – and employers and clients will love – today. You can join here now.
Photo by Adam Solomon