If you're like most people who've decided to look for a new job, or who want to grow their professional brand, then you've probably realised that you will need to update your LinkedIn profile. Your profile needs to evolve as your career does and shouldn't be static. By ensuring that it's kept up to date, you reduce the risk that you will miss out on being identified for relevant opportunities.
Here are my 5 top tips to help you get recognised by recruiters and grow your network on LinkedIn:
1. Craft a killer headline
Your LinkedIn headline is one of the most valuable pieces of real estate on your profile. Other than your name and profile picture, it is the most common thing people will see when you post or interact with other posts on the platform. It's also displayed right underneath your name when you appear in the search results, which means that it is one of the first things that a recruiter or employer will use to decide if they're interested in engaging further with you.
As a default, LinkedIn generates a headline for you using your job title and organisation when you add a new role to your profile. Many people do not realise that you can actually edit this section to help prove your visibility. However, you only have 120 characters for your headline, so you need to choose what you want to say carefully.
Here are my suggestions for what to consider when drafting your headline:
Draft a sentence that highlights your unique value proposition to your target audience (i.e. future employer, client prospect etc.).
If you're looking for a new opportunity, and you're able to advertise this, then you should definitely include this in your headline.
Include any industry awards or honours that you've received.
Avoid internal jargon - (eg. if your job title isn't understood well externally, consider rewording it for an external audience).
If you're interested in some examples of great headlines, check out this article from The Undercover Recruiter.
2. Keep your summary succinct
The other key part of your profile is the Summary section. While your headline only has 120 characters, your Summary provides for 2,000 characters so you should aim for a word count of around 300 words. A good summary that is rich with keywords (see tip 3) will help your profile rank well in search results.
Firstly, ditch the impersonal third person, and write this section in the first person. You are writing this profile so that people connect with you as an individual, so make it as easy as possible for them to be able to achieve this. Writing in this style is also an effective way for you to showcase your personality and tone.
If you're actively looking for a role, I recommend that you include your contact information (ideally: mobile number and email address) at the start of this section. This will allow employers and recruiters to contact you quickly. If you're concerned about privacy, you could limit this to your email address or invite people to send an InMail or connection request.
You might be tempted to start writing a career history next - don't. This is important, and it will come later, but first you need to communicate who you are. Why is it that you do what you do? Why do you get out of bed every morning? Sit down and craft a single sentence that communicates your "why" (note: you might have to revisit this over a few sessions). Being clear on this will help people find connection with you and it can also reconnect you to your purpose. Simon Sinek offers that understanding your 'why' will help you clearly articulate "what makes you feel fulfilled and to better understand what drives your behaviour when you're at your best". His website has some great tools designed to help you find your 'why'.
Next, it's time to write that 4 to 5 sentence summary of your career history. Try to ensure you have included as many keywords as possible.
3. Consider relevant keywords
In order to find the keywords that are relevant for you, I suggest finding 5 profiles of leaders within your industry and copying the text into a word document. Next, find 5 job descriptions for roles you aspire to add their text to the word document. When you have this all together, you can paste the content into a word cloud generator tool like WordClouds or WordArt in order to find the most commonly used terms.
The most commonly used words are your keywords. You should use these keywords wherever you can (in context though, don't overdo it) throughout your profile. Typically, these keywords are used as search terms by recruiters who are trying to find candidates with experiences similar to yours. By including them thoughtfully in your profile, you're increasing the chances that you will be identified for relevant opportunities.
4. Update that old photo
Your profile photo is another one of your first opportunities to make a first impression with a prospective employer. Profiles without photos get viewed significantly less than those with one.
If you're unsure of the style you'd like to go for with your new photo, you can get some inspiration from the profiles of people in your network that you respect. Review a few photos and note down any similarities and recurring themes. Remember though, you want to look approachable so make eye contact with the camera and it's okay to smile.
avoid complex patterns and busy backdrops, with a preference for plain white backgrounds;
make sure that your face takes up at least 60% of the photo; and
ensure the image is representative of who you are as a professional.
5. Avoid overused words
LinkedIn released a list of the most overused words recently. While this list was developed from profiles based in the US, I suspect that most of these words are also overused here in Australia. It's okay if you use these words in moderation, but try to find other adjectives to describe your experience wherever you can to help you stand out from the crowd:
Do you still have questions about how you can market yourself more effectively on LinkedIn? We'd be happy to chat and offer some personalised advice, so please get in touch below.
About the author
Chris Morrison is the founder and Director of Meritos, an executive search and recruitment business working with purpose-driven organisations. If you're interested in connecting with Chris, you can find him on LinkedIn here. You can also reach him on 02 9055 6836 or via email at email@example.com