Helpful Tips to Optimize your LinkedIn Profile
In 2008, as I finished up my Master’s Degree in Human Resources Administration from the University of Scranton I had to do a thesis project. Since I’ve always had an interest in the Internet, I further researched the benefits and limitations of social networks on recruitment. You can even check it out on my LinkedIn profile. It was a fresh topic back then. Not many people were really engaged in the power of social networks but it was the start of something huge.
Fast-forward four years to 2012 where everyone and their mother (and father) are on a social network. Yes, that is true. Both my parents are on Facebook and I recently helped both my parents setup and optimize their LinkedIn profiles.
The underlying focus today is to train people on how to setup and optimize your LinkedIn profile so that you can catch the attention of a recruiter for that big job or even as a college student waiting to land an internship or your first full time gig.
Though my experience with LinkedIn over the years, I have seen many profiles with a varying degree of information on them and realized the need to keep it full of information and keywords and to find the language to market yourself – your brand – to the best of your abilities. To this end, I have put some of my thoughts together and come up with a few tips for those college students just getting onto the network or those who are older and just have not had a chance to set up their profile for whatever reason you may have. I will steer you all in the right direction.
Where Should You Start?
First, you should update your resume as if you were about to apply for a job. You should have your job duties under each of your jobs. Be sure to include keywords and buzzwords that are associated with your industry or the industry that you want to get into. If you see profiles that don’t really have any text under their job, that is a good enough indication that they are not currently looking for a new opportunity.
My Resume is Done, What’s Next?
You should be able to copy and paste the information in your resume right into your LinkedIn profile. This means that you should include the description of your job duties for each job that you had. You don’t need to go too specific but as long as you capture major keywords and industry buzzwords, you should be fine. Be sure to be as accurate as possible with the years as gaps can cause red flags or further questions.
Sell Yourself through your Headline
Whatever you do, please do not leave your current job position as your headline. At least consider improving it. You would want to make it a keyword rich headline that will intrigue someone. Describe yourself using attractive keywords and be creative. For my headline, “HR Professional by day and Entrepreneur by Night”, I am more creative rather than keyword rich. If you look at my profile, you can see that I work as a HR Generalist but I also just became HR and Social Media blogger and I am starting my own chocolate e-commerce business – to name just a few of the things that I do. I know that I can attract more visitors to my page if I were to be more descriptive with more relevant keywords. Granted, I have had many positive comments on how clever it is which is a great conversation starter but realize that you want to market the entire you and not just a small portion of you.
Do you have Skills?
The answer should be yes. We all do have skills. So, include them in your profile. They should be relevant to your professional experience. Don’t just say a skill like painting when it doesn’t relate to your professional experience. Though it may be a hobby or interest of yours, it wouldn’t convert as well as if you were to include solid keywords in this skills section.
Are you Certified?
If you have any special certifications, this is a no brainer. You definitely want to include these. You worked hard to get those letters after your name, they deserve their space on your profile!
This is another no brainer. It’s essential information that you should include. Some people don’t include years because it may date them if they are in a protected class. I’m impartial to that. I think if you are a seasoned professional looking for a new job by all means it’s up to you but if you are in college and just starting your career, it makes sense to just include the years.
This is probably one of the best ways to display your talent. Be wise about who you choose to give you your recommendations. Don’t pick Joe Shmoe, co-worker, who wasn’t your manager but a good friend of yours to recommend you just to recommend you to juice up your profile. Choose past teachers that knew you and worked with you. Choose a past manager who knew your work ethic and work habits. If you are a consultant, choose clients that you have had great success with and who you continue to do great business with.
This information just gives a person a little more insight into your personal life. As I alluded to before in the skills section – about the hobby of painting – this section is where you would put it. Deciding whether or not to include your interests is up to you. Just don’t put anything inappropriate which can cause a red flag to your potential new employer!
Groups and Professional Organizations
This section is also a must if you are active in your industry or at your college. It shows you are dedicated to your career and the more that you are a member of, the better it is for you.
Connect your Profile to Twitter
If you have a Twitter handle, by all means, include it. I say this especially if you tweet with relevant information for your industry. If you are not tweeting about relevant industry information then that is fine. It is up to you to include your handle however, if a recruiter sees that you have a handle, they may follow you and it will allow you to follow a more active stream of job searching on Twitter. This is another whole group of blog posts in and of itself coming down the road so stay tuned for those tips.
You get to join up to 50 groups. That is a lot. Your strategy for joining groups should be to join your high school and college alumni groups, if your current company has a group that would be great to join as well. In addition, if you are one that is on the job market, you may want to join professional groups pertaining to your industry. There are 1,000s of groups out there and there are a lot of good discussions going on through them. Become engaged and connect with other professionals. You never know who you will connect from commenting on a discussion or post and how they can help you find your next job!
Share your portfolio
If you are in a creative industry, feel free to use a LinkedIn application to share your portfolio right on your profile. It is a great way to show your work and to show the online community that you have the skills to produce great work.
You should also include websites if you have them. If you are Internet savvy and have your own personal website or blog, definitely include it. If you don’t that is fine. Also, you should consider a visual resume through vizify.com or even creating an about.me page with a little more information about yourself. You can always include your company website, but that is up to you. You only get three spots so pick them wisely!
This is by far the toughest thing to do. You should basically review everything you have included in your profile and then spend a few minutes to soak it all in and then summarize yourself and your career and your career goals. Tell your story but don’t make it a book. A few short paragraphs at most would be the limit. Give a general overview. Don’t be super specific and drag it on. You want to engage the person checking out your profile and impress them. Recruiters should be able to easily gauge your skills and your experience from a high level. Be sure to include those keywords and buzzwords that I keep alluding to and give yourself the credit you deserve!
Go Forth and Connect!
I know that I gave you a lot of tips and I can probably continue going on and on with finer details. I am going to work on more in-depth LinkedIn tutorials in the future and possibly have video tutorials as well so I can walk through creating a new profile or just doing a review of profiles that I have seen online that are great examples.
If you are currently in a position where you feel that you would like to get some feedback on your LinkedIn profile, feel free to connect with me and send me a message and I will be happy to give you some insight on where you can improve your profile.