It’s been over a year since I last wrote about LinkedIn. In that time, LinkedIn has grown even more important—not less. If you are not using LinkedIn to brand yourself to potential employers, you are missing a huge opportunity. And if you haven’t looked at your LinkedIn profile in while, it’s probably past time to do a refresh.
When someone searches for you on LinkedIn, they will see 3 things: Your name, your LinkedIn Headline, and your location. In many cases, hiring managers will make the decision to read your full LinkedIn profile based on just these three things. Consequently, your LinkedIn Headline acts like a newspaper or magazine title. It gives the reader an idea of what your profile will include. Being specific results in a much better headline—but your headline should be more than just your job title. Great headlines attract attention, and the more people who view your LinkedIn profile, the better your chances of connecting with the right person who can lead you to your dream job.
Keywords also play an important part for you in being found by people who don’t know you on LinkedIn — this is particularly true for jobseekers who are hoping for contacts from prospective employers and recruiters. Keywords are a list of words and phrases that are related to your work — they are the words that a prospective employer would search for when trying to find someone like you. LinkedIn Headlines are searchable fields using the “People Search” function when someone is looking for particular skills, interests, qualifications, or credentials.
You can also incorporate keywords throughout your LinkedIn profile, including:
• Your LinkedIn Headline
• Current and former work experience
• LinkedIn summary section
• Specialties or Skills section
The keywords that you select for your profile must fit two criteria:
• They must speak to what makes you unique and what you want to be known for.
• They must align with what employers value — that is, what they want.
Choose your words carefully. When possible, incorporate in keywords — nouns or phrases that can be picked up through online searches and are prominently used in applicant tracking systems.
Although you can create different targeted versions of your résumé to target different types of positions, you’re limited to one LinkedIn profile—so make it count. Be specific and single out the training, experience, and/or results that set you apart. Someone who is reading your profile should be able to recognize YOU in it; if what you wrote could apply to anyone with your job title, go back to the drawing board. You don’t have to come up with anything earth-shattering – but remember that differentiating yourself will help you be found.
A couple of key things that will help you stand out on LinkedIn:
• Write your Summary in the first person (after all, you’re talking about yourself).
• Profiles with pictures attract 50-70% more inquiries than profiles without pictures. Have a good headshot of yourself. At a minimum, your photo should include your head and shoulders, not just your face. And remember, no extra arms over your shoulder!
Consider publishing on LinkedIn and commenting on others’ posts to increase your profile and demonstrate your expertise. Offer your opinion and expertise on key issues, dissect obscure (but job-related) topics, and link to other articles and blogs of interest.
Don’t forget to customize your LinkedIn URL (see: https://www.linkedin.com/help/linkedin/answer/87/customizing-your-public-profile-url?lang=en) and include the link on your resume!