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With the New Year upon us, now is a great time to brush the cobwebs off your LinkedIn profile. If you’ve got 10 minutes, here are 10 quick profile improvements that will require about a minute each to implement. Get your 10-minute LinkedIn Makeover NOW!
1. Upload, Update, Or Upgrade Your Photo
Nothing says “new you” quite like a new photograph – Is it time to freshen your LinkedIn photo?
- Use a head shot that zooms in on your face. You want your viewers to be able to recognize you if they met you in person.
- Make sure your clothing is business casual to interview-ready – avoid informal wear.
- Consider a light or white background as it makes your head shot pop off the web page.
- Wear a genuine smile. Grins use fewer facial muscles and communicate less of your personality, while a genuine smile helps people feel a sense of connection with you.
2. Infuse Your Title With Key Words
The title/tagline block is the #1 place LinkedIn draws key words from when ranking ordering profiles in recruiter and employer searches. Does yours contain enough?
- Although you have limited space in which to clarify your career goals, key skills/achievements, or credentials, your title can communicate a lot in 120 characters.
- Use title abbreviations when relevant such as SVP, CEO, or c-level to communicate the level of position you are seeking.
- Include multiple career targets if you are in active search mode and pursuing more than one title.
- Include one or more relevant functions such as sales, marketing, operations, or finance.
- Include key certifications or credentials such as Six Sigma Black Belt, MBA, or PMP.
- If space permits, also include a very short achievement which addresses your overall career success – perhaps something like “produced $50B in career-long sales.”
3. Warm Your Summary Up
Part of the purpose of your LinkedIn profile is to help recruiters, employers, and influential contacts to feel a sense of connection to you and to get to know you. Is your summary warm and inviting?
- Many people write their profiles in third person language, speaking about themselves as if they were someone else (“John’s greatest career passion is… “rather than “My greatest career passion is …”). I would argue first person language is warmer, more personal, and carries more of your personality.
- Writing your summary with “I” statements will tend to shorten it, and shorter is better on your LinkedIn profile.
- Making this switch will mean you need shift sentence subjects and verb tenses throughout your summary. Be consistent!
- Remember you don’t have to start each sentence with “I”. Restructure your sentence structure to eliminate the need for “I” or to begin your sentences in a different way.
4. Add Key Words To Your Summary
Your summary is a great place to include industry-specific key words. How many does yours contain?
- In addition to weaving key words into your summary’s sentences, try adding a skills subsection.
- You can achieve this informally by adding a title in all caps or using keyboard characters such as hyphens, dashes, underlines, or asterisks to set a subsection apart visually.
- List your skills vertically or horizontally.
- If you list your skills horizontally separate them by a keyboard character such as a pipe or webding/ wingding.
- Aim for a list of 10-15 skills in addition to those used in the body of your summary.
5. Remove Early Career Roles
Because recruiters and employers often search for candidates based on the amount of experience they possess, listing too many jobs on LinkedIn can screen you out of consideration for jobs. Does your profile need age-proofed?
- Most recruiters don’t necessarily want to see your entire career spelled out on LinkedIn – that’s what they expect to find on your resume.
- What they expect to find on LinkedIn is the last 10-15 years of your work history.
- Omit pre-1999 jobs from your profile altogether
- If you held a job from earlier in the 1990’s until after 2000, you may need to abbreviate or eliminate the role in order to prevent your candidacy from being overlooked in recruiter and employer searches.
6. Remove Education Dates
Including education dates on LinkedIn invites deliberate or inadvertent age discrimination. What do your education dates communicate about your career story?
- As with pre-1999 employment dates, education dates invite problems on LinkedIn profiles.
- Unless you are a fairly new graduate, remove your employment dates by selecting the “—“ instead of a year in the date drop-down box.
- If you do this, be consistent and omit all of your education and training dates.
7. Attach A Bio, Marketing Brief, Or 1-Page Resume
Deepen your LinkedIn career brand by including one or more documents or media that showcase your relevant career skills. Which piece of your career portfolio can you use to enrich your profile?
- A bio, marketing brief, or 1-page resume is a great place to start if you are in active search mode.
- Also consider an interview PowerPoint presentation, leadership brief, or one or more mini case studies.
- Additional options include interviews, links to relevant media, or other social networking profiles.
- Check out this blog post for more ways you can leverage a bio in your job search.
8. Fill Up Your Skills & Expertise Section
LinkedIn allows you to list up to 50 skills and areas of expertise on your profile. How many is your profile using?
- Assuming you have previously done key word research to identify the top 10-15 industry-specific key words your profile should be showcasing, make sure all of them are listed in this section.
- Use different ways to say the same thing. For example, note your communications skills using a variety of terms:
- Interpersonal communications
- Customer relations
- Customer service
- Interpersonal leadership
- Customer-facing communications
- Comb through job postings to find additional key words to highlight in your skills section.
9. Shorten Your Job Listings
Research conducted on how recruiters read LinkedIn profiles proves that shorter is better. How much extraneous information do your job listings contain?
- Trim the length of your job listings to enhance the focus.
- Use shorter, less complex sentences that begin with action verbs.
- Hone in on brief, high-level position descriptions and include your most powerful achievement in each role.
- Consider combining job listings if your work history is long, complex, or involves many job changes.
10. Add Key Word-Rich Coursework
An easy way to infuse your profile with more key words is to add coursework titles. How strong is the education portion of your profile?
- If your degrees or certifications align with your career goals, be sure to add specific coursework titles in the description section of your education listings.
- If you’ve taken professional development coursework apart from degree studies, list the titles of those courses in the “Courses” add-on section found to the left on your Edit Profile page.