A lot of people don’t start to think seriously about LinkedIn until they lose their jobs. Suddenly they need a LinkedIn profile that attracts the attention of headhunters and impresses potential employers. And just as suddenly, they realize that their profiles are practically empty they don’t know how to fill them out.
Are you in that boat? Here’s where to start!
Helping me out with this blog post is Valerie Wunder, whose LinkedIn profile I’m using for show & tell. Valerie recently left her job and is looking for another.
1. Change your basic information to reflect your current professional status. Your “professional headline” and “industry” should clearly reflect your greatest skill and/or the type of job you want. Some headline examples:
Clinical Laboratory Technician
Here’s how it looks:
2. Your “display name” should be your full name. The “first name, last initial” choice is very bad for people seeking jobs! Here’s the full name:
3. You absolutely need a photograph. Choose something with a big smile and your eyes on the camera, and crop it to focus on your face. Head and very top of the shoulders is fine. Since you’re not showing your outfit or the background, you should have plenty of photos to choose from. If your favorite photo has a problem, e.g., your face is sunburnt, there’s glare on your glasses, or the photo is too bright or dark, have it fixed by a professional. It’s worth it! Here’s Valerie’s photo:
4. The “summary” section is self-explanatory. Don’t be in a hurry to fill this out. You want it, but it’s better to give it some thought. Fill out the rest of your profile and come back to this one.
5. The “experience” section is like a traditional resume. Add all of your major jobs. Don’t forget volunteer positions! Sometimes your volunteer work demonstrates more skills, creativity and reliability than your paid positions. While you’re at it, ask the people for whom you volunteer for a recommendation.
6. In the “skills” section, try to choose the skills they already have listed. (Sometimes you have to invent your own.) It’s very important to list every skill that fits you, because these are keywords picked up by LinkedIn’s search. Here’s what this section looks like:
7. “Education” is also self-explanatory! Be sure to join the LinkedIn alumni group for every school you’ve attended. Also, be sure to list school activities like athletic teams, academic associations and social clubs. Here’s an example from Valerie’s profile:
8. Under “additional information,” don’t add social networks that you don’t use. For example, if you’re not using Twitter regularly, don’t list it. Add any interest you have that you might easily discuss at a corporate event.
9. Under “contact me for,” make sure you accept both introductions and InMail. If there are jobs you especially want or especially don’t want, write that in the special instructions box. Here’s what that section looks like:
10. Don’t add any applications until you’ve been using LinkedIn for a while and have a better idea of what you really want and need.
11. You’ll notice that there’s an “add sections” area. If you’re a member of an honor society or some other organization, you may want to list this. Remember that you can rearrange the sections on your profile, so if your society or organization has to do with school, you can move it near your education section.
12. Be sure that your entire profile is entirely public! You WANT people to see your latest posts and activity, all of your groups, all of your resume, your full name and your photo. You want people to find you via Google and Bing. You want them to easily see what you’re about before contacting you.
And here’s a bonus tip:
DON’T USE THE LINKEDIN RESUME UPLOAD FEATURE! It’s buggy! You’ll just have to edit it all anyway. It’s actually faster to enter everything manually.
In case you were wondering what Valerie’s entire feature box looks like, here it is! Click to get to her LinkedIn profile.
Have questions? Please ask in the comments below!