Guide to Creating a Great Linkedin Profile
Traditionally, the first thing most people do when they begin their job search is to tell their friends and family. They begin by sharing the news themselves, and the network quickly expands.
These days, the job hunt begins on social media sites such as LinkedIn. Ashford University Professor Paula Zobisch pointed out in a Forbes School of Business® Mentor Week presentation that this system is free, easy, simple, and potentially quite effective.
The key to LinkedIn success begins with a robust, optimized profile. Apply these tips to look your best on this virtual network.
The fields at the top include name, current position, and location. Many LinkedIn users don’t think to do this, but you can use the "current" position field as a sales pitch. State your specialty instead of your job and talk about where you want to go rather than where you are.
Your photo should be a professional-looking portrait but this doesn’t mean you have to pay for a studio package. Find a friend with a good camera and decent skills. A simple, in-focus head-and-shoulders shot of you in business casual attire will do.
LinkedIn provides 2,000 characters in your summary to make a great impression. Use every one of them.
The summary is your elevator pitch – a quick introduction that will make potential employers want to learn more. Highlight your top accomplishments and skills, but leave the nitty-gritty details for elsewhere in your profile.
Pay attention to presentation. Break up sections with bold text or lines that make your summary easier to read.
Use some search engine optimization techniques when creating your summary. You’re trying to make sure your profile shows up when recruiters search for candidates, which means that keywords are crucial. Scour job postings and descriptions of positions you’re aiming for. When you find words or phrases repeated in listings that appeal to you, work those terms into your summary.
Cite any technical skills you bring to the table. Familiarity with office productivity software is virtually required these days. If you excel at Excel, mention it.
It’s tempting to think of this section in terms of a traditional resume, and the fact that LinkedIn posts entries in reverse chronological order encourages this bad habit.
Instead, use your job entries to build on the story you started in your summary. Describe milestones and achievements rather than duties. Summarize major projects and highlight successes that set you apart.
For those starting in the workforce or changing careers, listing volunteer experience is a great way to highlight off-resume skills. Were you in charge of your PTA’s $30,000 fund-raiser? Make sure you list it. Skills you applied outside of a professional setting can also be relevant in your business setting.
Volunteerism creates a networking opportunity of its own. An optimized profile clearly listing your contributions will lead to communication from organizations in your area. Those communication opportunities will give you the chance to continue doing good work while making great connections.
Endorsements and Recommendations
Endorsements, where your connections vouch for your skills, are quick and easy on LinkedIn. That’s why many employers regard them as almost worthless, Information Week says.
If you’ve piled up a lot of endorsements on your profile, pare them. Scroll to the “Skills & Expertise” section, click “edit” and declick ones you don’t want to appear. You can also opt-out of endorsements permanently through the drop-down menu in that same section.
Recommendations, however, are valuable. Ask co-workers and supervisors to post some for you. Offer to write a recommendation in kind. If you have a specific position in mind, ask them to speak to your skills in key requirements in the posting.
LinkedIn is a wonderful opportunity to put your credentials before millions of people. Make sure your profile gives potential employers a complete picture that goes beyond resume bullets. This profile is a powerful supplement to traditional job seeking tools like resumes and cover letters. Plus, it can have a big impact on your quest for better employment.
Written by Ashford University staff.