Optimizing your LinkedIn profile is a no-brainer. And the platform gives you lots of space to write about yourself with an ever-extended LinkedIn character limit. Still, I’ve discovered with my Connect & Grow series that so many people miss an opportunity to make quick fixes to enhance their professional presence and increase their visibility on the platform.
Here are some suggestions that I’ve learned over the years.
OPTIMIZE YOUR LINKEDIN PROFILE
Complete Your Profile: Commit to this move. LinkedIn assigns greater weight to complete profiles. Aiming for a profile strength of “All-Star” can potentially improve your visibility on the platform. Plus, it looks weird if you have 5+ years of experience, you’re looking for work, and your LinkedIn profile is a ghost town.
Personalize Your URL: LinkedIn allows you to personalize your profile URL. A custom URL is easier to share and looks more professional, plus it gives you good Google “juice” and may allow recruiters to find you easier. Do this right now.
Profile Picture: Use a clear headshot for your profile picture that looks like you and is no more than two years old. You don’t have to spend a lot of money. Have one of your kids take a picture and slightly Facetune it to improve your house’s terrible lighting. Do not spend money on those AI photos. They all look fake, and some recruiters report skipping the profiles of people who waste money on those dumb headshots.
Banner Photo: Your banner (background photo) should be related to your industry or reflect your professional interests.LinkedIn has free banner templates. Choose one of those. Or, if you’re fancy, create something on you’re own. Here’s a video on how that works. You can make free banners on Canva.com or even Adobe. I’m not creative, so I paid someone to make my banner on Fiverr.
Headline: Don’t just list your current position or job title. My friend Linsey Pollak recommends using all available characters in this space to showcase your skills or specialties. Her profile is an honors class on how to do this right. Also, remember to include keywords that recruiters, clients, or potential collaborators might search for.
About Section: Write a compelling summary about yourself. Highlight your skills, experiences, and career aspirations. Try to tell a story instead of just listing facts. Use Chat GPT 4 to help you with this task by asking it to write your summary and then pasting in your resume. You can tweak it from there.
Experience Section: LinkedIn is your digital resume, but it’s not a legal document. Detail your work history, but don’t just copy your CV. Highlight your impact, key achievements, or how you contributed to your team or company’s goals. Don’t lie, but don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story. That’s Mark Twain. And if you have career gaps, you can include those. In addition, LinkedIn gives you options for caregiving, time off, and other ways to explain it.
Skills: LinkedIn has doubled down on skills, so list and select all relevant ones you have for each job. Need help to figure out what to add? Here are some ideas. LinkedIn also has tools to help you demonstrate that you know some stuff about your career. It’s like a mini quiz. It’s worth doing if you have time on your hands.
Recommendations: Everything old is new again. Recommendations from colleagues, supervisors, or clients can add credibility to your profile. Don’t hesitate to ask for them. You can even ask Chat GPT 4 to suggest examples of recommendations based on your resume and your relationship with someone. Then give the suggested copy to your friend or colleague as an example of what they can write. That’s how book blurbs are written!
Education & Certifications: Detail your academic background and any certifications or licenses you hold. Include courses, majors, or group projects relevant to your professional goals. But here’s my controversial take: please only add your GPA if you’re on the Dean’s List (accomplishment) or seeking a competitive internship, and maybe not even then. Grade inflation is real, so anything under 3.5 makes you look dumb, which you’re not. Plus, you’re an adult. So be the change you want to see in this world.
Accomplishments: Many people feel awkward when it comes to bragging about themselves. Or they wait to include projects, publications, awards, languages, or other notable accomplishments in specific areas towards the bottom of a LinkedIn profile. That’s a choice, but if you killed it at your most recent job, or published an excellent report, don’t bury Lede. The goal is to tell a cohesive story in your work experience section, which provides a well-rounded view of your career.
Interests: I mostly notice somebody’s interests when they are weird. Following companies, influencers, and groups relevant to your career goals can show your engagement with your industry. But nobody is looking for those unless it’s to make fun of you, and your interests are keywords and tags to help LinkedIn align your profile with advertisers. So, not a huge priority.
LinkedIn Learning: If you have completed courses on LinkedIn Learning, showcasing these on your profile can indicate that you are proactively developing your skills. More importantly, always connect with the instructor. I love it when people take my courses and tell me how they enjoyed it, what they learned, or how it can be improved. Connecting with instructors widens your network. Don’t just follow them. Reach out!
GET GOING ON YOUR PROFILE
Remember, your LinkedIn profile is an online representation of your professional self and should reflect your authenticity, skills, and professionalism. But it can also be compelling, engaging, and fun. So be you, be clear, but don’t be afraid to put your unique spin on your profile.
People hire and do business with human beings, not SEO representations. By spending time on your profile, you can filter the opportunities to change your life and avoid toxic work environments, sketchy employers, and dubious business opportunities that hold you back.