A strong LinkedIn profile is one of the best tools you can have during a career transition and will continue to support you in building relationships long after you’re in a new position.
LinkedIn boasts over 675 million users a month, 40% of whom say they use the platform every day. 40 million of those users are in decision-making positions. It’s also the most popular platform among people who work at Fortune 500 companies. It’s a tool that gets you in front of recruiters but also allows you to research companies and build professional relationships.
However, it’s very common for people to make a LinkedIn profile and then let it lay forgotten - until something happens to make them start it up again (like losing your job). If your profile has sat untouched for years, it’s presenting outdated information and not doing you much good.
Your LinkedIn profile should be a living, evolving document that changes as you adapt your professional brand. Reaching optimal profile performance is something you should put some thought into and discuss with your coach - plan to put some time into it.
That said, there are plenty of small tweaks and adjustments you can do right now to get your profile kick-started. Here are some small adjustments you can make to make your LinkedIn profile “road-worthy” while you continue to develop your professional brand.
Fix Your Basics
It only makes sense to start your tune-up with the first things people will see on your profile - your basic information.
Most people keep the default “*job title* at *company name*” format for their headline, but you can do better than that. Your goal here is to tell people who you are, what you do, and why they should connect with you.
Use this space to highlight your expertise (“UI/UX Designer and Content Strategist”) or skills you want to appear in searches. (“Public Speaker, Consultant, Planner, and Operator.) You can also include a quick mission statement or creative connection. (“I make systems faster, better, stronger”)
Do not say “looking for new opportunities” or anything else that highlights your unemployment. Remember - this is your opportunity to present what you do and what you want to do. That’s always true - even if you’re not doing it for money right now.
Your profile photo should be obvious: pick a photo that’s recent, where you’re wearing clothes you would wear to work. Don’t use a long-distance shot, your face should take up about 60% of the frame.
But don’t forget your background photo, or “header photo.” That’s the visual at the top of your profile page. This is where you can show, visually, what matters to you. This is a little taste that sets the context for what people can expect from the rest of the profile.
- Location and Industry
Are these still accurate for where you live? Do you still want to be in this industry? If not, change it quick!
Get Your Skills In Order
LinkedIn allows you to list up to 50 skills on your profile, and you should use all 50 if you can. This may mean getting creative with the auto-fill on the profile and listing some skills that seem close to being the same thing.
For example, my profile lists skills in both “Human Resources” and “HR Consulting” and both “Content Management” and “Web Content Management.”
LinkedIn also allows you to pick your three most important skills and feature them on the profile. You can do this just by dragging-and-dropping the skills to the top of the list while you edit them.
It’s important to maximize your skills because these skills reflect the keywords that recruiters use to find potential hires. If a recruiter is searching for a candidate with “User Experience” skills, and it’s not on your profile, you won’t appear in their search results.
You can also improve your ranking in recruiter search results by getting endorsements from your friends and colleagues. The more endorsements you have for a certain skill, the more likely you are to appear on the first page of results when a recruiter searches for that skill.
After you list your fifty skills (or as close as you can get), start asking people for endorsements on your skills, especially those top three. Your profile visibility can get a huge boost just from one social media post asking your friends for help.
Spotlight Your Services
If you’re trying your hand at freelancing or starting a business of your own, LinkedIn has a newer feature called “Spotlight” which allows you to show viewers what services you offer and are available for. (Don’t worry, you can still list yourself as available for full-time employment.)
Synch Your Contacts
LinkedIn doesn’t work unless you build and utilize your network - and the easiest way to get started is by connecting to people you already know. Connecting your email contacts to your profile allows LinkedIn to suggest and recommend people for you to connect with - people you may have forgotten about.
You still have to give LinkedIn permission to send connection requests, so you’ll be able to review each recommendation. But you’ll be amazed at how simple it can be to increase your connections - and access all of their connections at -the same time.
These changes may be quick, but they can make a huge impact on the effectiveness of your LinkedIn profile.
Of course, the most important parts of your profile - your About Me summary and your career experience - will take a little more than 20 minutes to build. Talk to your coach and watch this blog for future guides to writing a successful summary and using the platform effectively.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Martin Schneider is a content specialist and career coach who has helped hundreds of job-seekers find their place and improved hiring methods at dozens of companies. He writes about the world of work for Careerminds and takes the mystery out of the career-transition process. Connect with him on LinkedIn here.