Oh, the powerful world of LinkedIn! If you know what LinkedIn is and you have one… then great! You are officially one step closer to becoming the ultimate online professional. If you DON’T know what LinkedIn is, or you think your profile may be a little weak, follow the rest of this blog for the best tips, tricks and must haves in order to ensure yourself, your network and any potential employers that your LinkedIn profile is an authentic and accurate representation of YOU.
After creating your LinkedIn account, there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure you are creating your account to its greatest potential. Staying relevant on LinkedIn does not mean you have to be active every single day for multiple hours at a time, but if you aren’t going to utilize the site to its greatest caliber, why use it at all? Let’s begin with your personal profile.
Your profile on LinkedIn is basically an expanded online resume available to anyone and everyone. With that in mind, make sure what you put on your profile are things that you are proud to associate your name with. This begins with your profile picture. Traditionally, pictures are something that are not typically included in a resume because of the issue of discrimination based on appearance. The beauty of LinkedIn (especially if you include your URL on your resume) is that you can show potential future employers or your network a professional, clean, inviting person who would be a wonderful representative for any business in your respective field. This includes professional attire and a clean appearance and hairstyle. Professional headshots are typically the best route to go for your profile, but take creative license in choosing a background that is fitting for your line of work and personality. Standing out and catching someone’s attention in an a becoming way is never a bad thing.
With that being said- LinkedIn is used by far more than just CEO’s and people in traditional business positions. LinkedIn is also a platform used by scientists, athletes and any other field imaginable. If you do not fall into a classic business category, feel free to take a different approach to a profile picture that may be more fitting or appropriate for your specific sect- just remember to stay professional, whatever that may mean for your field.
The header photo behind your profile picture is also an area that should be used to its full potential. Although it does not typically “make or break” a LinkedIn profile, it does provide a fair amount of space to further express your personality and can make your profile look more “complete” or “thoughtful”. This may be an area to show the stadium you play on if you are an athlete, or a place to keep neutral if you are in a more conservative career field.
Moving on from the visual images on your profile, a very smart move is to customize and personalize your URL. This section of your profile can be found in the top right corner under
“Edit public profile & URL”. After clicking this link, a new tab will pop up with your “Public Profile Settings”. In the right hand corner of THIS page, you will also find a section that says
“Edit URL”. After clicking the pencil icon, you can change your URL to anything you want. If you own a business, you may want to include the businesses’ name. For more personal profiles, it is never a bad idea to try and secure your own name in your URL. That way, it is easier for employers or your network to find. Not to mention, if you include your URL on your resume, it gives that potential employer one more opportunities to see and remember your name. I know I would probably rather see “linkedin.com/TimCookApple” than “linkedin.com/9138401923840128340912834”.
The next important topic we really need to focus on is your profile introduction. This is found right under your pictures and includes your name, headline, current position, education, location, industry and summary. THIS AREA IS VERY IMPORTANT. When someone looks at your profile, this area is the first verbiage they see. If there are spelling errors, there first impression may be “Wow, s/he might not take too much pride in their work”. I know it sounds crazy- but typos are definitely something that has been seen on LinkedIn profiles before.
Make sure that your header is relevant to your desired field and expertise. Once again, the more you add to this section, the more complete your profile looks and the more personable and relatable you become to the viewer. The summary section is a great area to tell more about yourself, your journey, or your career interests with your own selected style of writing.
The experience section of your profile is the area where you get explain all previous jobs and careers and your position description and responsibilities within the organization. Make sure to add any and all work related experiences to your profile if you feel it has added value or development to your skillset. My recommendation for young professionals is.. the more the merrier. If you feel like your experience isn’t “good enough” or “wasn’t a real job”, think again. Think about how much you learned from a summer as a server or lifeguard. Primarily, you showed that you can get a job and devote yourself to a position. Serving experience within a restaurant teaches time-management, organization, customer awareness, teamwork and so much more- plus, you never know who may be connected to this restaurant in a professional or personal way. Seeing you have had a certain position at a certain place could be a conversation starter for connections or may be something a connection can relate to.
The education section is also a great area for college students or recent graduates to expand on. Spending around 4 years representing a College of University is no minuscule task and hopefully during your four years, you were able to become involved in a program, job or club. It is also place to explain majors, minors or fields of study.