LinkedIn is the platform we’re all signed up to but we’re not quite sure how to use. Which could also mean we most likely haven’t created effective profiles on it. LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network with more than 645+ million users in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide. It’s basically the Facebook for careers but a little more serious (or Instagram, depending on what generation you belong to). The size and potential of this platform make it the perfect platform to look for new opportunities and connect with other professionals.
To benefit from the potential of this platform, you must build an effective profile that tells your story accurately and distinctly. Here’s how to get past the awkward stage of simply having an account to building a LinkedIn profile that works for you.
Complete your profile
This is the first and most important rule of building an effective LinkedIn profile. Allow your page to tell your story by completing every section of your profile. LinkedIn’s internal search algorithms find you based on the ‘completeness’ of your page, and these can get more than 20 times more views in comparison to incomplete profiles. A key advantage of having a complete profile is the use of ‘keywords’ which can raise your profile to a recruiter. To increase your chances of being discovered, take a look at the job description of the position(s) you’re after, make a note of the keywords that are relevant to you and your qualifications, then use these words in completing your profile. LinkedIn measures the completeness of your profile and offers you tips on how to make it better.
Customise your URL
Custom URLs are memorable and more presentable than the default URL assigned to you at sign up. To get a custom URL, go to your profile page and click on edit public profile and URL, then click to edit your custom URL. Specify what you would like your address to be and save it. It’s advisable to use a combination of your LinkedIn name in your URL. If that is taken, you can add a middle name or number to the URL.
Use a “professional” profile picture
The common thing among newbies on LinkedIn is that they crop out a part of a dark grainy picture, leaving just their head and use that as their profile photo. Don’t do that! Take a clear, smiley and professional picture on a clear background, using your phone or a camera. Sit in front of an open window for good lighting. Remember to be appropriately dressed in this picture, no onesies, no halloween headbands – even if you feel it conveys your ‘fun’ personality.
TOP TIP: I’ve looked at profile pictures of people in my industry in dream roles and re-created my favourite ones.
Be Intentional with your headline
Contrary to popular practice, your headline doesn’t have to be your current job title and company, especially if you’re looking for a new job or you are currently unemployed. You can uncheck the option to make your current role your headline and type one in.
Leaving the current job section empty will probably get you missed in most searches. Recruiters exclusively use the current job title box to search for candidates, this helps them find people more suited for the job roles. If you’re currently unemployed, use the job title you held last or the job title you’re currently aiming for, followed by the phrase “Seeking new opportunities” in the company box.
Capitalise on the summary section.
Do not ignore the summary section. This section should serve as a mini cover letter that connects the dots of your career. It should cover ‘who you are, ‘who you help’ and ‘how you help them’. “The summary should walk the reader through your work experience, key skills, unique qualifications and a list of the various industries you’ve had exposure to over the years.” Feel free to include a key stat about the work you’ve done, like “I’ve helped over 50 small businesses establish their social media presence, by creating relatable and customer-centric content.” You can also use this section to show off your personality and/or discuss what you do outside of work. But aim to keep it short and concise.
List your relevant skills and endorsements
After your profile has been found, a recruiter will then want to know what your skills and experiences are to determine if you are fit for the intended role. Write out your skills using the keywords that you researched earlier.
Compliments are great, but LinkedIn recommendations and endorsements are better. These recommendations and endorsements are usually based on the skills you listed on your profile. Recommendations are testimonials that emphasise your professional abilities while endorsements are simple notifications confirming you have a particular skill. Specific recommendations are what you should aim for, as opposed to general “Deola is quite nice to work with” statements. Specific statements like “Deola created a marketing strategy that improved our brand awareness by 20% and led to a 5% increase in sales in 2 weeks.” demonstrate strong performance and achievements. LinkedIn sends you a message when you get a new recommendation, you can decide which recommendations to display or dismiss.
Showcase your accomplishments
Like your CV, LinkedIn is a place to showcase your best accomplishments; it should not just be about past jobs and duties. Unlike on your CV, write these accomplishments in first person. LinkedIn is a platform designed for interaction, so write as if you are having a conversation with someone. Since it’s all about standing out from a pool of similarly qualified candidates, add anything that looks good and sets you apart, like side projects, certifications and languages that you speak.
Engage with your connections
Like every other social platform, LinkedIn has it’s ‘status/what’s happening?’ equivalent. Update your status professionally and strategically, share an article you wrote or an article you relate to, not what you got up to with your boyfriend. Like some posts, leave some comments and like others comments too. Do this at least once every week, these activities will improve your visibility and lead to stronger connections.
Write an article on LinkedIn.
It’s always a good idea to improve your writing skills. LinkedIn has a publishing platform where every user can share their original content, give perspective on what’s going on within their industry or show off their writing skills. These articles will appear on your profile, can be shared by other users and can appear among search engine results with you retaining all rights to your writing. If you already run a blog that highlights some of the skills on your profile, you can set up auto-publish to push new posts on LinkedIn.
Join a Group
LinkedIn Groups are a great way to build and develop your professional network. They are also great for keeping up with industry news and can be a great resource for job vacancies. You can find new jobs by searching on LinkedIn and you can create your own group. LinkedIn has a policy against self-promotion in groups, show your expertise but do not plug company products. If you are found to be in violation of LinkedIn’s policy, you can be blocked or removed from a group.
Edit your notification settings.
By default, LinkedIn notifies your connections of job changes, education changes and work anniversaries from your profile. While you are busy building your effective profile and making necessary changes to your profile, make sure to edit your notification options. You don’t want your connections getting 20+ notifications from you in one day, you also don’t want to make it too obvious that you are overhauling your profile or start getting congratulatory messages from a job you started 2 years ago. You can change this setting as soon as you’re satisfied with your profile.
From connecting with old classmates, to making new industry connections and opening career doors, success on LinkedIn largely depends on how good your profile is. With an effective LinkedIn profile, you stand a chance of utilising the platform to its full potential. Also, avoid overselling yourself and telling untruths about your role and skills, because it’s so much easier to fact-check things on LinkedIn.
Words by Deola Bee