The Magic of A Strong LinkedIn Profile

Posted by Christine Campbell on Wednesday, June 10, 2020 at 4:16 PM PDT

Just about everyone has some version of a LinkedIn profile, but if you ask, many will say, “Oh, I haven’t really updated that in a long time.” Or “Mine is really basic—I just have a few things on there.” 

Why LinkedIn? 

It can be intimidating to sit down and work on it, much like working on a resume. But there are a lot of good reasons to update your LinkedIn profile and to make it as complete as possible. For starters, it is the number one tool that recruiters and hiring managers use to check out applicants. Recent studies found that applicants with “comprehensive” LinkedIn profiles are 71% more likely to get an interview. 

Is LinkedIn just for job seekers? 

Being active and up-to-date on LinkedIn is more than just about job hunting. It’s a great way to connect and build your network—adding current and former colleagues and bosses, new people you meet, and people in your friend network. You can use the news feed as a way to stay up to date on the news and innovations in your field and by sharing and commenting on posts, which will help you start to grow your own brand as a thought leader in your sector. You can also help other people in their careers, with congratulations on new jobs, boosting their posts, and endorsing their skills. Being generous and supportive pays dividends as those connections reciprocate. 

So, whether you’re job hunting, or not just yet, tending to your LinkedIn profile and network is an important investment. 

Building out a strong LinkedIn profile 

The remainder of this blog will highlight how to create a strong profile, from top to bottom, as presented at the Seattle University Web Development Meet Up 

1) Profile Picture: A professional-looking profile picture is very important—research shows that profiles with photos get 10 times more views. Dress for the next job level you are aiming for and have a friend take a few dozen pictures of you so you can pick one you really like. Smile, use good lighting, and aim for a photo that will show your head and shoulders—not too small and not too close. 

2) Background image: Be intentional about the photo you choose, as it will help you further your brand. Choose something abstract but relevant or something that speaks to your profession or your desired job. Have fun with it! 

3) Keywords: As you build out the text section of your profile, you’ll want to use keywords that are relevant to your industry. Look up some job descriptions for jobs/organizations that you admire or want to work for. Notice the title and skills. Those are critical terms that hiring managers will be looking for so they should be on your profile. You can also put those into a word cloud maker and see which words rise to the top: Make sure you incorporate those terms throughout. 

4) Headline: This is not your current job title. This is a chance to sum yourself up for your field or for a new job. Use keywords and your career trajectory. 

5) About: This section is where you tell your story, what motivates you and where you’re headed. Here are some examples that LinkedIn curated to showcase different ways to do it, including the one below

6) Featured: LinkedIn includes a number of features that you can add to this section, including media and videos, photos, articles, etc. You may not have things ready now, but this is a nice nudge to encourage you to have someone take your photo if you are giving a presentation, or record it. Or to write an op-ed to a newspaper on something important in your field, or to publish it on LinkedIn. Show what you are doing! 
7) Work experience: This is the hard part. Summing up years of work and trying to make it stand out. Just get started and you can tweak and edit as you go. A few things to remember: 

  • Use titles that are common-if you had any unusual or outdated title, update it so that searchers can find it.  You can do that by using both: MIS Manager/IT Manager. 
  • Write about achievements not duties: The temptation is to list what you did every day. But that’s not what matters. Talk about what you achieved and try to quantify it: Managed web content and increased site visits by 75%. Saved $2M by using a new payroll system. Trained 450 people in diversity and inclusion. These may sound very illustrious but keep pressing – you'll find yours. Talk with a friend—they can help you see how what you did was impressive. 
  • Write in bullet form: People are scanning your page, not reading it. 
  • Be choosy about what jobs you include: If you’ve been working for more than 20 years, consider only including the last 15. years. If some jobs don’t help with your image of career growth, feel free to leave them off. 

9) Education: List your most recent degree first. Leave off years unless you are a very recent graduate (within the last 5 years.) 

10) Skills: Skills are one of the most important things hiring managers are looking for. (Titles are the first.) LinkedIn allows you to list 50 skills, so go ahead and do it. Choose skills that relate to your current role or the next role you want—but be honest. Don’t list things you have no experience in. Use the job descriptions you pulled for keywords to help you here. Use those keywords again. This short article is a good deep dive into how to add skills and endorsing other people’s skills and having them endorse yours. 

11) Recommendations: Just like skills, recommendations are something that you give and receive. A good way to think about it is to consider having a recommendation from each job that you list on your work experience. Choosing the right people and the right timing takes some thought. But don’t be afraid to ask. You can use templates to make the request.

12) Rounding out your profile: LinkedIn offers you a number of other sections to showcase who you are. Languages, honors, volunteer work all have a place here. Think about what you’d like other people to know about you and share it. 
Don’t be overwhelmed! Tackle one thing at a time. Put some time on your calendar a few times a week to work on each section, breaking it down into small chunks. Have fun getting dressed up for your photo—try different outfits and backgrounds. Be creative about your background photo—go on a local field trip to get just the right shot. And start the work of figuring out who you are and what your ambitions are—find dream job descriptions to help you find the right language. You’re on your way!