Having a fully optimised LinkedIn profile is so important when it comes to looking professional, demonstrating who you are and what you have achieved, and it goes a long way to not only back-up your CV (in a digital form at least) but to expand and elaborate on it. LinkedIn is the perfect place to show a range of skills, experience, thoughts and discussions that you can’t do with a traditional CV.
Many of you will have got to grips with LinkedIn already and some may consider yourself as more ‘advanced’ users, however there are few tricks that you’ve most likely missed. In this article, we will look at 5 ways to improve your LinkedIn profile and how important they are in your job search.
1. Keep your profile updated
The top section of your LinkedIn profile is the most important part when it comes to first impressions. You might have a great list of experiences, skills, expertise and so on further down your profile, but a lack of (good quality) profile picture, short and to-the-point bio and no / limited contact information is a bad starting point. Think of this section as the ‘personal touch’ – without it you profile is just yet another list of information.
Find a nice picture of yourself to use for your profile picture and write a short but engaging bio about yourself. Tell people who you are, what you’re an expert in, where you’re based and what you want to achieve. If you’re openly looking to make a career move and don’t mind telling people, then do! Include a short message in your bio section about your intentions to relocate and get a new job.
Including your contact information and social media links in the top section of your LinkedIn profile is also very important. If people are interested in who you are, want to find out more about you or simply want to connect with you on an alternative platform to LinkedIn (which can be seen as a very straight-laced professional platform and not a place to ‘chit chat’), then you want to give them the options to do so. List your email address if you’re happy for that to be visible to your connections, add your Twitter username and provide any links to your website, blog or any other social networking platform that you’re part of and what users to connect with you on.
2. Revise your experiences
Your experiences tell people who you really are in a professional context.
They tell people what you’ve achieved, when you achieved them and this helps them to shape a better picture. However, a rookie error is to list every experience you have ever had all the way back to the start of your career. The reason why this isn’t the best idea is because, to be honest, it can be very tedious irrelevant.
You want to demonstrate who you are and how you came to be at the level you are in the most concise way possible. Pick out the most important experiences that you have had (maybe add a particularly interesting experience in here too, even if it didn’t entirely sculpt your career) and highlight them. Give them a relevant title, such as the job title, company name and date (to and from) and give it a short but sweet description. Keep the description brief and don’t rely just on bullet points – you can include a few bullet points at the bottom of each description to highlight some of your major achievements or skills gained.
Pick between 3 – 5 of your most important experiences and ensure that they’re well written and promote your personal brand in the best way possible.
3. Get recommended
Recommendations are great additions to any LinkedIn profile and help to back-up your claims and professional achievements. Once again though, many go overboard with recommendations and think that showcasing as many as possible helps to show you’re a true professional in your field. Wrong. Lots of recommendations doesn’t actually help your cause as many of them won’t be seen (users will have to click the ‘read more’ button to view all of them, which they most likely won’t do) and the best ones will be overshadowed by the less important ones.
You can choose which recommendations are visible to your connections, so be sure to pick out the best ones. It is important to remember that recommendations can be linked to experiences, so be sure to check that you have some great recommendations (1 – 2) for each of your chosen experiences where possible.
If you’re a little lacking on the recommendation front then don’t be afraid to ask colleagues, past or present, to give you a recommendation. Be sure to return the favour too, as this is a great exchange in your time and experience of that individual. When you do ask for a recommendation be sure to give them a little guidance on what you would like. Say that you like them to give you a recommendation on a specific experience that you have listed on your LinkedIn profile and that a short summary of your time together and how you impacted the project and / or company would be great.
4. Who are you following?
The LinkedIn team has been concentrating very hard on additional features over the recent years, and one of the best additions is the ‘following’ section. Here you can follow individuals, known as ‘influencers’, news (collections of topics) and you can join groups.
Influencers are people who have been specially chosen by LinkedIn to represent their industries and write new articles on a regular basis. These influencers can be anyone from well known bloggers to technology developers, entrepreneurs to authors and so on. As an influencer they also have a ‘follow’ button on their LinkedIn profile which allows people to follow their updates without having to connect with them – and even if people do try and connect with them unless they know each other the chances of that individual accepting are very slim. Following an influencer is a great way of keeping up-to-date with what they have to say and ensuring that you’re at the forefront of the latest trending topics and discussions.
The news section allows you to follow groups of topics, so you could follow ‘technology’ or ‘financial news’ and keep updated with the latest stories, topics and breaking news. This feature was designed to bring the top stories as they’re written from specific industries and news groups without having to leave LinkedIn – no longer do you have to visit multiple websites to get a round-up of the news.
Groups are quite literally groups of people. Some groups are open and public, others are closed and private. Groups can be created for whatever reason and you can create your own group if you like. Groups are very beneficial if you want to discuss certain topics with a specific group of people. An example of a group that you could engage with is an oil and gas group made up of industry professionals living and working within the Middle East. Groups can also be used to network with like-minded professionals, as networking groups, as job boards and much more.
Remember that the influencers that you follow, the news that you follow and the groups that you are a part of are publicly visible to your connections, so make sure that you only follow ones that you want people to see – remove any that you aren’t interested in and don’t participate in.
5. Go that extra mile
If you’ve followed the previous 4 tips to improving your LinkedIn profile then consider yourself a pretty advanced user of the platform. However, going that little extra mile can make all the difference and really showcase you as a senior-level executive with more than just an impressive list of experiences and skills.
LinkedIn allows users to list publications and projects that they’re worked on. If you have been a part of writing any publications then be sure to write them down. You can include a summary / introduction of the publication, the title, a link to the publication and you can list all of the authors who worked on the publication. Presenting people with publications that you have been a part of is a very powerful way of demonstrating the full extent of your knowledge and experience in your industry and throughout your career. Again, if you’ve been a part of many publications, pick the best ones, ones that will help you in your networking and / or job search endeavours.
Listing the projects you have worked on is a great way of highlighting individual achievements throughout your career. Whilst listing a selection of your major experiences gives an overview of the companies that you have been involved with, projects allows you to dive down into those experiences (or even unlisted experiences where only the projects you worked on are relevant to your connections) and elaborate on major tasks achieved and goals reached. In this section you can include a summary, a title, a link and you can also list the people you worked with on each project.
The key to achieving LinkedIn ‘success’ is to update your profile regularly. If you work on a new project, write a new publication, start a new job, then add it to your profile. Taking advantage of status updates is another important use of your time. Keep your connections updated every couple of days or once a week on what you’re up to or where you’re going to be in a few days, “Heading to #Dubai next week for the annual Oil & Gas convention. Message me if you’re going to be there. #networking”.
Be sure to check your public profile and what your connections can see to ensure that you’re happy with what is visible and that you feel it presents you and your professional brand in the best way possible. Think about how people could view the content on your LinkedIn – will a recruiter be blown away within a couple of moments, or will they be bogged down with too much text and a list of experiences that dates back to the early 70’s? – and adjust the content accordingly. Did you know you can also rearrange some of the content sections around on your profile? Maybe it’s worth thinking about what sections should appear nearer the top of your profile.
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