5 Steps on How to Create a Standout LinkedIn Profile
If you ask Google what LinkedIn is, the search results will generally describe it as a benchmark social networking platform used by and for new college graduates, job seekers, industry professionals, and businesses. But if you ask me, I’d put it simply and say that LinkedIn is like Facebook, but for working professionals.
If you use Facebook to showcase and celebrate your personal life, hobbies, and achievements, think of LinkedIn similarly but exclusively for your career and industry. It is a networking platform where you can find companies and industries for jobs, establish new connections for a bigger professional network, and develop your portfolio.
Why You Need to Have a LinkedIn Profile
As a job seeker, it can be tough to find a job on your own, and this is precisely where LinkedIn comes in.
Creating a LinkedIn profile gives you many advantages as a job seeker, especially against candidates who do not have an account. Potential recruiters can quickly view your online resume on the platform, contact you, and see if they think you can be a good fit for their company. Just like that.
Having a LinkedIn profile can bring jobs and connections to you. But having a simple, uninspired profile will not. You can maximize your visibility on the platform with this 5-step guide to get the best results on LinkedIn.
STEP 1: Lay down the basics
First things first, get your basics in order. Your basic information will be seen by a viewer at a quick glance in the profile introduction, the section people see first when they visit your profile page. A good majority of your profile’s initial setup should be spent working on this section as this serves as your first impression to the viewer, and first impressions matter.
Don’t worry if you’ve missed any details as further information can be added later as necessary, but don’t forget to initially include the following:
- Full Name – Make sure you use the name you officially go by professionally. Consistently apply this across all your materials and interactions with prospective connections and employers.
- Headline – This field will serve as your 120-characters professional pick-up line. Make a great impression and provide a short description of what you do/what you want to do in your career. Elaborate further to fit your brand and personality. Think about your headline like this: aside from your photo, it’s the single most important factor to making a strong first impression. Things to remember when creating your headline:
- MAKE IT QUICK – Your headline should sum up your interests, professional background or academic credentials in a few words.
- MAKE IT CATCHY – Think of your headline as your tagline. Make it memorable.
- MAKE IT YOU – Your headline should be unique to your personality and job.
- Current Position – This section is where you showcase your current occupation, where it is, and what you’re currently doing there. Whether you’re a student intern, part-timer, freelancer or a professional, filling out this information is relatively straightforward.
- Education – This field should simply talk about your foundations in education to employers or recruiters on LinkedIn. If you’ve graduated, you can put when you attended school/college/university; otherwise, you can put your expected graduation year. Including the name of your college (or even high school) in this field is also a powerful tool for networking. Do not disregard this section, as this section is essential.
- Country, ZIP Code, and Locations – At a minimum, you’re required to provide your country of residence. If you want to get curated job or internship opportunities as well as relevant local group suggestions within your area, you are encouraged to be more specific.
- Industry – Choose an industry that is the closest to the one you currently (or want to) belong in. If you can’t find a similar match, that’s okay. Adding your industry will help LinkedIn direct recruiters into finding you and suggesting jobs.
- Get Your Custom URL – Using a customized URL not only makes your profile easier to find on LinkedIn, but it also gives your profile a more polished and professional appearance. Rather than a randomly generated URL, a personal and custom one will better differentiate you from other LinkedIn users on the platform.
STEP 2: Put your best face and brand forward
Your profile picture and cover photo are immediately the first two things that people will see and observe when they visit your profile. Making the mistake of not using images that convey your identity will cost you a substantial amount of engagements. Having a profile picture and cover photo nowadays will automatically get your profile significantly more views and connection requests.
In this platform, connecting with people is your main objective. So make your professional brand as marketable as you can by choosing images that are professional, approachable, and friendly. Nowadays, a picture taken by a professional is optional. Resources are now easily at your disposal.
Here are some DOs and DON’Ts to keep in mind for your LinkedIn branding:
- Stay true to yourself. Choose an up-to-date image that is easily recognizable.
- Wear what you would wear to work. “Business casual” is a safe approach, but the formality of your attire will depend on the industry you belong/want to belong in.
- Keep the background simple. Choose a non-distracting background that puts you as the focal point and highlight of your picture.
- Align your profile’s theme to your niche. Different industries call for different presentations. Cater to what will make your profile stand out.
- Use a poor quality photo. It makes you appear lazy and careless. Additionally, blurry, dark or blown-out pictures will make your face difficult to see.
- Use a poorly cropped photo. Pictures taken from afar, and of you with multiple people cropped, is not ideal for your professional profile.
- Use an out-of-date photo. As you progress in your career, your features will change so keep your photo as current as possible to reflect your identity better.
STEP 3: Let your summary tell your story
The summary is where you can give an overview of your professional life. Use your summary to list your goals, passions, accomplishments, and missions as a professional. In other words, tell people why they should connect with you.
Try your best not to be tempted to use the default summary that LinkedIn generates. Instead, highlight your essential skills and achievements and show off your personality. Often, this section is the most intimidating since it’s a long and blank space, it can easily be daunting and tempting to skip, but it is encouraged that you don’t. This space will serve as your chance to strengthen your first impression and tell a more detailed story about yourself and your professional career.
Here are some tips for writing an engaging LinkedIn summary from scratch:
- Make It About You, It’s Okay To Focus On You – This is your personal brand. Use shorter paragraphs with fewer sentences and white spaces. White space will allow the reader to get a quick glance of your story without overwhelming them with text.
- Tell A Story – This is a chance for people to get to know you. Share your goals and what you’re passionate about.
- Write In The First Person – Third-person summaries can sound impersonal. Write in the first person and use words like “I,” “me,” and “my.” Don’t be overly formal. Be yourself.
- Proofread, Proofread, Proofread – Spelling and grammatical errors can quickly invalidate your authority no matter how well-written and engaging your story is presented.
- Include Keywords – Everything online is now data-driven, so use data to your advantage. Recruiters on LinkedIn use keywords to filter through all the viable profiles when finding potential job candidates. Creating a keyword-rich summary is one of the best ways to make sure you’ll come up in searches.
If you’re looking for inspiration, check out the five different LinkedIn summary examples (with a template for every kind of personality) here.
STEP 4: Build references, make connections, and gain credibility
Recruiters and working professionals on LinkedIn all want to work with credible people. Get their attention and confidence in your abilities by letting other people speak on your behalf.
Collect recommendations from people you have worked with to prove your depth of experience and show that you’re good at what you do.
- Jog Their Memory – When asking for recommendations from previous hires, clients or colleagues, include little notes or anecdotes on how you helped solve challenges at work as well as your triumphs. These memory-aids will help jog their memory and remind them of your time together naturally.
- Highlight Your Abilities – Connections love to know that you know what you’re capable of doing. Encourage your references to make your skills and accomplishments a highlight for the readers.
- Make It Personal – Ask people to share like they’re telling a story. It doesn’t have to be a long paragraph, but it should sound personal and natural for the readers.
STEP 5: Consistency is key
Since we’ve covered the basics, appearances, story-telling, and references of your profile, all you need to do now is to make sure that you keep your profile current and up-to-date.
Make your profile a continuous reflection of your current professional status. Don’t show outdated information, i.e., you currently work or intern somewhere that you no longer do. Just like how you would regularly update your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, a similar enthusiasm should also be put into your LinkedIn profile.
You can set a reminder on your phone to update your profile information. You can take it further, even as a beginner you can engage your connections by periodically posting or sharing content on your profile. Although, it is preferred that you do it at a lesser frequency. Quality posts and shares over quantity, always.
Promote Your Personal Brand and Start Networking on LinkedIn
Don’t be afraid to go out there, browse through profiles, and connect with the people and groups LinkedIn initially suggests. Accept connection requests, and make your own requests by exploring more networks.
Connect with people you know and more importantly, people you want to get to know. This is an excellent opportunity to get in touch with people you admire or want to work with in the future. Joining groups and sending requests won’t cost you anything, all it can do is benefit you by expanding your network.
Now that you’ve already reviewed and followed all the five steps above, you’re guaranteed to have a standout and professional LinkedIn profile that’s ready to win over any recruiter and engage more connections than ever before. So get out there, and get noticed.