So, you’ve got a LinkedIn profile, now what? How should we be using LinkedIn as a tool to further our careers, exactly? Like any social media platform, the ability to connect us to mass amounts of people across the globe is what makes it so powerful. As of 2017, there are 500 million active users on LinkedIn, and at least 10 million job postings at any given time. Imagine where your career could go if you unlocked just some of those opportunities.
First, it’s important to understand that how you’ve setup your profile is how you present yourself to the world, and to potential colleagues and employers. Building an effective LinkedIn profile is similar to building a resume. It may take some effort to do correctly, but the benefits will greatly outweigh the time taken to do it.
What are headhunters looking for on LinkedIn? Headhunters are seasoned pros as navigating the platform, so it’s crucial that you have a profile that looks professional and cuts through the clutter.
We’ve compiled a list of items that you need to perfect in order to put your best foot forward.
Take a great profile picture. This is often the first thing that potential employers will notice about you. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words. A great rule of thumb is to steer clear of selfies, party and/or vacation pictures, or anything blurry. Your profile picture does not need to be super corporate; so long as it’s good quality, shows your face clearly, and professional. Put your best face forward here. You can have a friend take a picture of you in a well-lit area and iPhone picture quality would be sufficient.
Get a custom URL. As previously mentioned, there are 500 million users on LinkedIn. It’s important that you make yourself easy to find. There are many ways to do this, but a great first step is to customize your URL as closely to your name as possible. This will also make it easier for you to link back to your LinkedIn profile in resumes and emails. The more eyes on your profile, the better, after all!
Craft a great headline. This is one of the first things people will see when they come across your profile, along with your picture. This headline appears within search results, invitations to connect, company pages, etc. It is most important to use “searchable words”. Avoid cheesy quotes, overused buzzwords, and generally being unclear about what you do. A headhunter won’t see something like “social media ninja” on your profile and then take the time to figure out what that might mean to you. For example, if you are in the graphic design industry, you are better off listing yourself as a graphic designer rather than a digital artist.
Write yourself a punchy summary. Again, using keywords specific to your industry is best here. However avoid rambling on too long. Sadly, no one has time to read through paragraphs upon paragraphs about your professional life. Of course, in this area it helps to be as creative and pithy as possible, all while avoiding being cheesy and overly using buzzwords. This is your chance to set yourself apart from the rest!
Add media where you can. You can add pictures, videos, and links on many sections on your LinkedIn profile. It goes without saying that this makes cruising your profile much more interesting. In addition to this, visual aids, no matter the industry, are helpful in conveying your experience in a dynamic way. It also shows that you execute on deliverables, which is attractive to employers. If a headhunter lands on your profile and is interested, it would be helpful to give them some preliminary materials to sift through before contact you!
Write recommendations, get recommendations. Recommendations should not be the centerpiece of your profile, but it’s a nice cherry on top. It tells the user reading your profile that you have had good, positive work experiences in the past. Whether or not they read the content of the recommendations is on them, but as you can imagine, keeping it brief is best. A pro tip here is that people sometimes forget that giving a recommendation is an available feature, so write recommendations for your favorite coworkers to remind them— and pay it forward while doing it!
Keep things consistent. Take the profile of Danielle Morrill, founder and CEO at Mattermark, data and marketing company, as an example. All of her experiences are listed in a clean manner, and the job descriptions all keep the relatively same format. The profile is easy to read and pleasant on the eyes. It’s simple for the user to land on this profile and understand Mrs. Morrill’s work experiences. This applies to other sections on your profile as well. Make sure to use similar language and formatting as you build the profile out– and make sure that, above all else, it represents you!
Make connections. Making connections on LinkedIn is the name of the game, after all! These connections make you look, for lack of a better word, well-connected within your industry. On top of this, you get the added benefit of growing your circle and further networking by being connected to the right people. It is also helpful to connect with headhunters and recruiters. They often post updates on positions they’re looking to fill, and you’ll have an easier time getting in contact with them overall. Conversely, if you do not have any connections at all on LinkedIn, it makes you look unengaged and unconnected, so connect away!
Complete your profile. An incomplete profile is an ineffective profile. It simply defeats the purpose of having a presence on the platform, as you make yourself look uninvolved, and uninterested. LinkedIn knows that you completing your profile is an important step for you to get value out of using it, so it guides you as you build out your profile. As you follow their instructions, your profile strength will receive a ranking.
LinkedIn is a fantastic tool that enables us to connect with industry professionals all over the world and there is value in taking the time to flesh out your profile in a way that represents you. In using the platform to its fullest potential, you are setting yourself up to make the most of what it has to offer. It just so happens that what LinkedIn has to offer is making key connections, and great strides in your career.
Miriam Groom is VP of Sales and Marketing at Groom and Associates, a Canadian recruitment agency specialized in headhunting and executive search. Miriam brings a new perspective and skill set to Groom and Associates as a second generation of senior management in the Groom organization. Miriam has experience with a wide range of clients, from small high growth organizations to some of the largest global organizations. Miriam has a degree in Commerce with a concentration in Finance from the John Molson School of Business.