In recent years, social media has become an increasingly relevant resource for job seekers and hiring managers alike. In fact, social professional networks are the fastest growing source of quality hires globally, increasing 73% over the past 4 years. And with 380 million users as of August 2015, LinkedIn is perhaps the most valuable social media channel to assist in your job search and networking efforts.
Recruiters and people you meet at networking events often look at hundreds of LinkedIn profiles, and many of them start to look the same. Your goal is to be remembered. Whether you are trying to find the ideal job or maintaining a professional profile for ongoing networking, here are some guidelines to help optimize your LinkedIn profile.
- Include pictures — On average, users who include photos obtain 11 times more views than people who don’t. When you choose your profile picture, your attire should match the job you want. The photo should be a current picture of you alone, not one from five years ago cropped out of a larger photograph. LinkedIn also has the option to add a cover photo. This option is another opportunity to show one of your interests or how you are unique. Overall, remember your photos are the first impression a viewer gains of your personal brand. Make them count.
- Make your headline unique — If you are seeking a job, your LinkedIn headline is especially important. Career coaches recommend avoiding words such as “aspiring” or “looking for” in your headline. Include keywords that catch a recruiter’s attention. If you are currently employed, do not list your title and your company as your headline. In all situations, ask yourself the question: How do I (or will I) make other people and organizations better? You should incorporate what you do, who you help, and why you are credible into your headline. A customized, specific headline such as “Customer-Centric Marketing Professional for Small Businesses and Startups” or “Recruiting Consultant Specializing in Accounting, Finance and Technology” will help your profile tell your story in an effective manner. You only have 120 characters; use them wisely.
- Obtain rave recommendations — Colleagues and former colleagues can write recommendations for you if they are among your connections. These recommendations will appear under the position where you worked together. Think carefully about who you want to write these recommendations. Select someone who supervised you, someone who worked with you on a team, and someone you supervised. This way, your profile viewers will obtain a comprehensive picture of who you are as a worker and what you could contribute to a company. LinkedIn makes it easy to request recommendations through their messaging system. Another way to obtain recommendations is to write recommendations for others. People will often feel compelled to reciprocate.
- Use appropriate endorsements — LinkedIn endorsements will not get or cost you a job, but it is still important to manage this section of your profile. Consider endorsements as another visual marketing tool on your LinkedIn profile. Make sure you have skills that are recent and relevant to your job as endorsements. LinkedIn allows you to add, hide and move endorsements. Place the most relevant and endorsed skills at the top of the list. Like recommendations, your connections are more likely to endorse you if you endorse them.
- Make it easy to find your profile — The more information you include in your profile, the easier it will be for people to find your profile. It is also free — and recommended by most career coaches — to create a custom URL for your LinkedIn page to make it simpler for people to access your profile. Usually, it is best to make your LinkedIn URL http://linkedin.com/in/yourname. Add this URL to your business cards and email signature.
What strategies have you found most effective in helping your LinkedIn profile stand out?