I’m often surprised that professionals, or soon to be professionals, lack an outstanding LinkedIn Profile… and some don’t have one at all.
LinkedIn has been a highly relevant tool for business, whether it is used for business development, sales or simply as your ‘calling card’. With about 500 million profiles in LinkedIn, it’s a critical tool in recruiting as well. LinkedIn is always used by recruiters, either to discover talent or to verify and dig into someone’s background–a referral for example.
You LinkedIn profile needs to match your brand—it takes careful thought to put together a great profile that’s in line with how you want to be perceived. If you don’t think about your brand, you should, here’s a piece with a lot of tips, http://thepacheragroup.com/creating-your-personal-brand/
Here’s what constitutes a great LinkedIn profile:
A terrific photo. It doesn’t have to be a professionally done head shot though that’s industry standard among executives. Sure, you can be creative but the cropped shot from last year’s wedding photo with someone’s arm around your neck, or a selfie, isn’t really what we are talking about when we say ‘terrific’. Personally, I like the more casual look vs a suit and tie, I find it more contemporary.
A solid summary of your career—title, company and a short blurb about what you were responsible for. You don’t have to go back to your first job if you have 20 years of experience, just make what is listed really pop.
A tagline—who are you? You don’t need to get too cute but everyone compartmentalizes, it’s how we process information, help us out, who are you?
If you have a degree, flaunt it. It’s surprising to me that so many people leave their degrees off their LinkedIn bio.
Take the extra step and add your interests. That tells people a lot about yourself—are you self-involved or do you care about social causes? Are you over-extended with hobbies and activities (be careful in listing too many time consuming sports and hobbies)? Are you high energy (think running, sports, volunteering)?
Extra credit: list companies you are interested in and want to follow….keep your brand in mind.
Contact information. Don’t worry too much about your email being on your profile and getting spam’d, my experience is that doesn’t happen too frequently. And be sure to link your Inmails (the messaging service inside of LinkedIn) to the right email so you see who is trying to reach you!
Accuracy. Don’t embellish and make sure your titles match your resume, someone will take notice. And don’t try to pawn off a mini-MBA as a Harvard degree, clarify. Ditto with your graduation date. And by the way, accurate doesn’t mean you have to list every detail, if you don’t want to list your graduation dates and have been in the industry 20 years you don’t have to.
Referrals? I have mixed feelings on them; if they are from extraordinary people and say extraordinary things, sure. If not, forego this feature.
Perfection. Yes, it has to be perfect, free of grammatical issues and typos.
Network. Once your profile is complete, network with everyone you know so you are more visible to hiring managers. Recruiters will be able to see everyone in the system, but that isn’t your only target audience.
Starting your freshman year of college, start your bio and keep it current, building on your internships and experiences. And as a professional, keep it current, keep refining your bio. You’ll soon find plenty of opportunity coming to you!
Finally, get some feedback on it ideally from a wide range of people, recruiters if you have a personal relationship with one, managers, trusted advisors.