Your LinkedIn profile is an opportunity to present your professional background AND provide a glimpse into who you really are. But first you have to invest a little time tailoring your message.
1. Your Pictures
A profile picture showing your full face with a smile works best most of the time because it implies you are approachable and easy to talk to. A formal picture may be appropriate for a larger company while a candid shot in casual attire works for a high-energy start-up.
Ask your colleagues and friends which picture presents the best “you” and what kind of vibe they get about you from each of the options.
Don’t ignore the background image. It’s a great space to show how you enjoy your personal time and customizes your profile. My clients have photos of:
- the slopes (to show their love of skiing)
- a summer cottage on Nantucket
- a picture taken in a small town in Switzerland
2. Your Headline
This is the first thing people see after your name so it’s important. Think of the words you want to appear in searches that recruiters rely on to find candidates. Use keywords that show the value you bring to a company. Give people a reason to connect and seek you out.
Should you use your title or say what you do? You can do both with an effective headline. Consider these examples:
Project Manager at Acme Consulting
Project Manager | Acme Consulting | Delivering $1m+ technical software implementations on time | 2020 Client Award
Writer | Editor | Communications and Creative Specialist | Problem Solver with Smarts and Sass
3. Summary / About Section
Use your personal voice to write what you do and why you do it. You may want to include how you got into your field, why you enjoy it, and tidbits about experiences and accomplishments. Here is a great example for a writer/editor:
My passion is clarity, telling a great story and sharing information. I have a very relaxed approach to even the most intense encounters and I exhibit grace under pressure. Really. I write and edit for people who can't, who shouldn't or who simply don't have the time. I create social media campaigns, marketing materials, articles, web content and press kits. Using plain but never boring language, I cover art, culture, business, technology, family, food, gardening and health. I interview and develop profiles for high-level donors, artists, professionals, educators and CEOs.
4. Featured Section
Use this space to brag about what you have done! Includes articles you have written, a link to your personal website or blog, awards, images, and video clips. Edit this section and keep it current. If you don’t populate it, it won’t appear in your profile.
Your most recent activity on LinkedIn appears here, including your comments about a recent article, your reposts, your “congratulations” to a former coworker and your “likes.”
This section shows what interests you on LinkedIn and can provide insight to recruiters. They’ll see if you read technical articles, tips for suing companies, or posts about promotions. They’ll gauge whether your comments are professional, sarcastic, or inappropriate.
The interests section allows you to stay up to date and include people, companies and specific interests in your LinkedIn feed. There are four areas to explore:
1. Influencers: Following leaders in your industry and people you respect adds dimension to your LinkedIn profile.
2. Companies: Many choose to follow current and former employers to stay in touch with coworkers and keep up with business news. I follow one car manufacturer and the yoga retreat I frequent on vacations. I also follow Harvard Business Review for its articles (HBR has over 13m followers).
Tip: With a LinkedIn recruiting license, company recruiters can search for candidates who “follow” their company. By showing interest in a company and including it in your feed, you increase the likelihood of a response.
3. Groups: The types of groups you join provides more information to potential recruiters and can also be great professional resources. Are you in Boston Jobs for Software Engineers or Software Engineers Q&A for New Technology? I belong to an alumni group from a former employer, a specific industry innovation group, a women-specific group and networking groups in my industry where I can post and answer questions. I have also recruited people from my groups, so remember that what you say in a group is important.
4. Schools: It’s common to follow you alma mater, your children’s schools and schools that post about your field. Institutes are also in this section so you can follow news about your certification areas.
These are the tips I share most often. Which section of LinkedIn do you check out first when looking up old colleagues?