Seven simple rules for a perfect LinkedIn profile

Is your LinkedIn profile working for you? Or is it turning off potential employers and clients? We reveal seven simple rules for the perfect LinkedIn profile.

It’s generally accepted now that LinkedIn is one social network you can’t afford to ignore if you want to maximise your professional opportunities – it’s become the essential online CV.

But while most of us are reasonably confident in the rules of putting together a good CV, we’re less sure about getting our LinkedIn profile right. And as a result could be missing out on valuable career and business opportunities.

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Seven simple rules for a perfect LinkedIn profile

So how can you ensure your  profile is showing you in the best possible light? We’ve scoured Google for the best advice from a host of LinkedIn experts – and discovered seven simple rules for the perfect LinkedIn profile.

1) Use a professional photo

You know that photo of you you actually quite like for once? The slightly fuzzy shot taken on holiday four years ago before you had your hair cut short, and in which you’re holding a glass of wine? As flattering as it may be, it has NO PLACE on your LinkedIn profile.

A potential employer or client doesn’t care that it captures your best side, or you’re wearing your favourite top. They care whether you look responsible, approachable, intelligent… or any of the other characteristics they look for in a professional they want to hire or do business with.

Presenting a professional front is even more important for women returning to the workforce after having a baby. So make sure your photo screams confidence and experience, and not ‘good for a laugh’ or ‘mum’.

Having no photo at all is almost as bad. As LinkedIn Career Expert Nicole Williams explains: “You’re seven times more likely to have your profile viewed if you have one. Like a house that’s on sale, the assumption is that if there’s no photo, something’s wrong.”

So take the time to choose the right photo for your LinkedIn profile. Pick a head shot and ideally get it taken professionally.

2) Craft an attention-grabbing headline

Who do you want to notice or find your LinkedIn profile, and why? These are important questions to ask when crafting your headline (and craft you should – while this may be the least wordy part of your profile, it’s also the most important).

Think about the search terms a potential employer or client may use, and make sure they’re in your headline. Remember to make it readable too. A list of keywords may help you get found, but won’t do much to get you chosen.

Think of it like a newspaper headline, or email subject line. It needs to encourage people to want to read on, while ensuring they get an idea of what they can expect.

3) Write a powerful summary

Your summary is your opportunity to convince anyone who was interested in your headline that they were right to read on – and should keep reading. You need to demonstrate your expertise and knowledge and encourage potential employers and clients to make contact.

Take the time to craft your LinkedIn summary – don’t simply paste the executive summary from your CV. You have much more space to elaborate (though you should never ramble on to essay length!) and demonstrate your edge.

Try to keep your summary over 40 words as this increases the likelihood of it turning up in a search. Again, think about what keywords you want to be found for, and what type of language will resonate with your ideal employer or client.

Never write your summary in the third person – this isn’t a press release! Using first person makes it warmer and more human and enables you to convey some of your personality.

Alway end your summary with a call to action. What do you want someone to do – email or message you? Visit your professional website for more information? Make sure you clearly let anyone interested know what to do next.

4) Shout about your experience

Take time to add your career experience. Your headline isn’t the only opportunity to include keywords that will help you get found – they’re picked up in your experience too.

And don’t just make it a dull list – add detail to show off what you have done and can do, and add rich media if you wish to bring it to life and make it stand out.

If you’ve taken professional qualifications. don’t forget to add these to your certifications, and if you’ve volunteered for or belong to a relevant organisation or cause, or have honours or awards, include these too – the more rounded and complete your profile, the better.

5) Join relevant groups

Demonstrate your experience in and enthusiasm for your industry by joining relevant professional groups. These will be visible on your profile and let potential employers and clients know that you are interested in your area of expertise or industry, and most probably up-to-date on the latest techniques, developments and thinking.

(According to statistics, your profile is five times more likely to be viewed if you join and are active in groups.)

6) Manage your skills

Make sure you’re rated and recognised for skills that are helpful to the career direction you want to take by adding desirable skills to your profile, and removing those that aren’t relevant to where you want to be.

If colleagues and contacts endorse you for skills, you can re-order the list to highlight the most valuable and important skills at the top – ensuring that they’re noticed first. That way if you want to move into a more communication-based role, for example, you can move those skills to the top, and other skills further down.

7) Use your status

Keep your name front of mind with your connections by updating your status regularly. Ensure your updates are relevant and interesting – sharing industry news and insights, for example – to demonstrate your knowledge and that you are interested and up-to-date on the latest developments.

Update your LinkedIn profile today

So did your LinkedIn profile pass the test? Were you nodding knowingly at each of our rules, smugly confident that you’ve already ticked that box? Or did you make a mental note that you really needed to update yours – and fast?

If it’s the latter, why not make time today to get a head start? You never know when an employer or client may be looking for someone just like you for the perfect opportunity!

If you’re ready to get started now and need help, we recommend watching our LinkedIn Masterclass.