Contributed by Mary Ann Kelly
LinkedIn is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year and has grown to more than 200 million users worldwide. That’s a pretty awesome stage for your professional bio! You want to make sure people can find you, and that your profile is readable and up-to-date. This week’s post is how to put your best foot forward.
As a recruiter, I’m on LinkedIn for hours every day (yes, hours!) and I’ve seen a wide variety of profiles. Some have made me laugh, some have confused me, but overall the best profiles tell me the following:
- Summary – Who is this person and what is their skill set? Years of experience? What are their goals?
- Experience – How long have they stayed at each job? (I prefer when people use months and years) What did they accomplish at each company? What types of tactics/programs did they create for clients?
- Education – When did they graduate? Did they do anything noteworthy in school?
- Recommendations – What are colleagues saying? Whose recommendations did they choose to highlight, and are these credible/valuable? Did they write recommendations for others? (I use this as a proxy how sincere/helpful/personable they are)
- Groups – Do we have any groups in common? What do these groups say about this candidate? About their experience?
- Following – What companies is this person following? How many connections do they have? How active are they on LinkedIn? (Another proxy for how sociable they are)
LinkedIn is defined as a social networking website for people in professional occupations. Emphasis on professional. This is important to keep in mind when you are creating and updating your profile.
Let’s begin with your Profile Picture. First – include one. If I don’t see a picture I’m suspicious that you are not who you say you are. Bear in mind that this isn’t Facebook. The people you are connected to on LinkedIn are business colleagues and prospective employers, so you want to choose a photo that suggests your professionalism. You may love that beach photo of yourself from vacation – when you were*really* tan – but bathing suit shots are probably not the best choice. Neither is that one of you playing beer pong or smooching your hot date/baby/pet. Thanks for making our lives more interesting though!
I’m all for an approachable, “fun” picture that hints at your personality or interests, but Too Much Information, personal details, etc. lead me question your judgment.
Next is the Summary. Your summary can be written in a number of ways. Don’t be afraid to incorporate some of the quirky/cool things that make you a standout. This will help to make your profile memorable and help people relate to you. Go for a tone that’s clever, concise and entertaining versus lifeless and vague corporate speak. It’s a narrative or bio more than a resume. For search purposes – ensuring people find you – choose keywords that highlight your skills and interests. For example, social media analysts may want to mention Sysomos and Radian6.
I look at Recommendations and what connections we have in common as ways to vet your qualifications, as well as get a sense of your unique strengths. Who thinks you’re great? I want to see business partners, supervisors and clients. (I know your spouse and your mom believe you walk on water.)
The recommendations you write for other people give me insight into the type of manager you are. If you’ve taken the time to write a recommendation this tells me that you are also the kind of manager who will go to bat for their team.
Groups are important for two reasons: They tell me what you’re interested in and who you socialize with, and 2) Groups quickly expand your network and give you access to more profiles and contact options. If you’re not rabid about inviting people to connect, here’s a great way to increase your connections and visibility.
And speaking of Connections… They’re important because they define your LinkedIn experience. You gain access and visibility to people when they’re connected to your personal network. The bigger your network of 1st degree connections, the more quickly your 2nd and 3rd-degrees will grow. Of course, connections are only meaningful if they’re people you want to talk to. This should guide your “friending” behavior. The objective is to promote visibility and connectedness to people in your industry or that share mutual interests.
I evaluate Connections to see who we have in common, understand what circles you travel in, and identify who could provide references or insights on you. I make decisions about you based on who you hang out with, so it’s good to be selective.
Last, the hidden gem and often overlooked part of LinkedIn: Activity. Unless you edit the default privacy settings, other LinkedIn users can tell if you looked at their profile, edited your own, who you connected to recently, plus other recent activity. No kidding! Upticks in editing and networking activity can often signal that someone is stepping up their job search. While you could want your network and recruiters to recognize this, you may not want your current employer to catch on.
Hopefully, it’s helpful to know how me and other hiring professionals use LinkedIn and view your profile. Finding a job may not be the primary reason you’re here, but a well-executed profile can pay back in a million ways – from unlocking opportunities to meeting influential and like-minded people to reconnecting with former colleagues. LinkedIn is the best possible platform for publishing and achieving your professional bucket list, as their anniversary campaign suggests: Imagine what we can do.
Have a question about your LinkedIn profile? Email me.
And check out these other tips for making your profile awesome.