As people turn more and more to LinkedIn to look for influencers, prospects, partners and new talent for their companies, your LinkedIn profile is now more important than ever.
Here are 5 tips for leveraging your free account to the full extent.
1. Update Your Profile & Background Picture
For the background, choose a good-quality picture that represents you or the company or cause you work for. As for your profile picture, use a high-quality, professional headshot, preferably 400x400 px. Also, it’s recommended you make this picture visible to everyone. When you change your profile picture visibility to public, you make yourself easier to be found (and trusted!) by those who look for you via search engines or other networks.
2. Update Your Headline & Summary
Your headline appears directly under your name and is especially important because it’s highly visible, as well as searchable. Make sure you include the most relevant keywords, as it makes you easier to find when looking for professionals in your field of specialization.
Your summary should be brief, interesting and full of keywords. Make sure to update it regularly to maintain it as accurate as possible. It’s good to mention that the summary-section allows you to add high-quality media, such as images, videos, documents, and links. It is smart to take advantage of this opportunity, and add relevant media to introduce the visitor to your work, brand or thought influencer pieces such as a speech you gave, or a link to a news piece introducing your work.
Your profile will stand out to recruiters if you give a glimpse of your future career plans or what it would be like to work with you. This is also a good idea, if you are still at the early stages of your career, or if you are in the process of changing careers.
3. Hone Your Work Experience
Your profile isn’t a résumé or CV. You want to be personable and write as if you’re having a conversation with someone. Always write in the first person and allow your personality to come through in your storytelling. Write as if you’re speaking directly to the type of person with whom you want to do business.
Don’t list all of your previous jobs, unless all of them are relevant to your current situation. Instead, focus on the workplaces and experiences that benefit you the most, and list your greatest achievements and areas of focus.
Note: If you are a freelancer and have worked with different companies on temporary assessments, it’s better to structure that as a job in itself. It has no practical use to clutter your work experience section with small jobs at different companies. Also, make sure to attach your portfolio for reference to back up your story.
Remember to update your current position every once in a while! Many of us see our job descriptions change while we work, and if you are involved in an interesting project or manage to achieve something exceptional while in your current post, it makes sense to update it to your current job experience.
4. Update Your Skills & Ask for Recommendations
Add relevant skills and ask your friends and colleagues to endorse you. Update this section a few times a year as well - whenever you learn a new skill or feel like a skill you have listed is no longer relevant to your career interests, make changes accordingly.
LinkedIn recommendations are becoming more and more popular and important. There are two ways to get recommendations: you can send a request to a LinkedIn contact and ask them to write a recommendation to you (or just ask them in any other way as well), or you can write a recommendation to someone and hope they write one back to you. You can find the buttons for requesting and writing a recommendation by going to your contact’s profile page and clicking the white “More…” button next to “Message”.
In your recommendation, select how you know the contact and what their position was during your time of working together (the positions are automatically accrued based on experience). These are the only mandatory fields, after this, you are free to say what you want. However, it is good practice to (briefly) explain how long you worked together, how the person you recommended used their core skills to the company’s or project’s advantage, and what a pleasure they are in general to work with.
5. Make Your Profile Available for Recruiters
After you successfully updated your LinkedIn profile, you’re officially ready to let recruiters know that you’re open for opportunities. To activate this option, go to your privacy settings, and click on the section for job seeking preferences. There is also an option to signal interest to recruiters at companies for which you've created job alerts.
Make sure to check your inbox regularly. If you don't, you’ll never know who wants to connect over coffee (and can possibly help you professionally), talk about a job or refer you to a potential client.
Feel free to connect with me if you want some feedback on how your LinkedIn profile is coming across.