There are two things that I am very passionate about: counseling peers and juniors about higher education/career-planning (I am still in very early stage of my career, but I try to make myself useful wherever I can!) and the power of social media. One place where these two merge is when somebody asks me to review their LinkedIn profile (and this has happened too often in last three years!). Last week, when I helped a close friend with his LinkedIn profile overhaul, I thought it’s perhaps time to get ready a blog-post on things that I usually include in my LinkedIn profile feedback.
These tips are just meant to take your LinkedIn profile from just being present on LinkedIn to having a credible LinkedIn presence. Once you attain this level, you may move to relatively advanced steps, like participating in LinkedIn Q&A, using LinkedIn apps, getting a premium account, etc.
So here are 10 tips not in any particular order, starting with an elementary tip 0.
Tip 0: Keep your profile current, Always: This should be an obvious one, but many, many people ignore it, till they actually have to start hunting for a new job. In today’s connected world, you are always being looked up on LinkedIn. By coworkers, supervisors, recruiters, clients and everybody else!! (Don’t believe me? Start checking “Who’s Viewed Your Profile?” regularly!) And if you haven’t kept your profile updated and are already in job-hunt mode, you may be interested in the Bonus tip at the end of the 10 tips below.
- Get a profile picture: Try a quick experiment. Search for your favorite keyword on LinkedIn, and browse through any 2-3 profile out of 10 results on results page. Now, observe which profiles were featured at the top, and which profiles did you instinctively chose to click through. Chances are high that the top profiles were mostly profiles with photos, and if you are like most people, you must have clicked at the profiles with photos and skipped the profiles with no profile picture.
This is exactly what many recruiters will do, when your profile shows up in the results, but has no photo. (BTW, since click-through rate is one of the criteria of sorting results, this may cause your profile to appear even lower in subsequent searches!)
What kind of photos? A professional headshot works best, but this may depend on your target/current industry and function area. For example, for an investment banker or a lawyer, a professional look may be a necessity, but if you are targeting a Silicon valley startup, a less formal pic may work. Of course, avoid party pics or group photos. Use your best judgement, and pick a photo that you are comfortable showing to your manager/recruiter/client.
- Get a meaningful “Professional headline”: Other than your profile page, you may appear on different pages on LinkedIn: Search results, groups, Q&A, “People you may know” section for other users etc. At most places, the only things that users will see besides your name are: Your profile pic and “Professional Headline”. So make sure these are good. For most people, the headline is same as their current job-title, which may be okay sometimes. But I believe you are much more than your current job position. Also, many job-titles may hold little meaning outside their organization, and unless your profile visitor knows about your employer, the headline may not convey the right message. For example: a generic title like “Manager at XYZ Corp” tells me nothing, unless I know what managers at XYZ Corp typically do. Something like “Marketing professional with 8+ years of high-tech industry experience” is much better and informative.
And if you are really feeling adventurous and want to make your headline even more attention-grabbing, try something like this:
★ Experienced Search Engine Marketing Consultant ★ Guaranteed ROI ★ Discover Why Companies Hire Me!
I know that not many would be comfortable putting a bold claim like this in their headline. But a headline like this almost guarantees a click-through once you show up in search results. And don’t we want searchers to at least visit our profile, where rest of the details are there!
- Grab your Vanity URL: Sign in to LinkedIn and Go to home -> Profile -> View Profile. What URL you see as your “Public Profile” ? Does this follow the default (ugly) format, and look something like this: www.linkedin.com/pub/firstname-middlename-lastname/8/472/f31? If yes, then, it’s time to get a prettier URL for your public-profile.
Try getting one of these formats: firstname-lastname, lastname-firstname, first-initial-lastname or firstname-last-initial. If you have a common name like mine, you may have to use numbers too. (Mine is: http://www.linkedin.com/in/amitbhatnagar1) But this is still much prettier than the default URL. Once you have grabbed your URL, consider using it in the signature for your non-work email, or you may even use it in your resume, if you are looking for a job.
- Give your voice to your profile: Most resumes do not use pronouns: bullets are usually led by Action-verbs (“Led a team”, “Conducted a survey.. “, etc.) While writing your LinkedIn profile-summary (and the rest of your profile), consider making your LinkedIn profile distinct from your resume by writing in first person. I personally feel that writing in first person is direct and conversational, and hence, more inline with the style of social media. (I switched to a combination of first person + resume-style 5-6 months ago, and certainly, like it more that way!)
If you are not very comfortable writing in first person or find it a bit boastful, you may stick to resume-style. One style that I am not a fan of is writing in third person. I found profiles written in third person a bit too distant and having an air of fake modesty: You are still boasting about yourself (which is not really wrong if you are honest), but your writing style pretends that what you write is others’ opinion about you!! If you feel that description of your work and abilities would seem more credible in third person, leave that part to your recommenders!
- Describe your company/group: For each of your job-positions, consider setting the context for your work by starting with a brief description of the company or the group that you are/working for. If your company is a lesser known entity, this is a must-do! For example: during my MBA, I had an amazing marketing strategy internship with Manheim Auctions, which is the world’s biggest B2B auto-auction company, but since they are into B2B auctions, not many end consumers know about them. I make sure that my profile visitors know the magnitude of the company by including a couple of lines describing Manheim. For my current job, although everyone knows Deloitte Consulting, but not many may specifically know about Deloitte Digital, the service line that I am working with. Again, I include a brief summary of what Deloitte Digital is about before I discuss what I am doing at Deloitte.
Continue reading part 2 of this post here.