When you want to go back to work after a career break or redundancy, or you’re looking to change role, in today’s employment market, your LinkedIn profile is an essential item in your toolkit. It needs to show WHO you are and WHAT you do.
Getting your LinkedIn profile right is absolutely key. It’s something that I always cover on all my group programmes such as Leadership Confidence and with my one-to-one clients too. LinkedIn isn’t just for jobhunting though.
Today I’m sharing the 7 essentials that you need to get right on your LinkedIn profile. Even if you feel your profile is in good shape, it makes sense to review on a regular basis.
1. Your LinkedIn photo
- Your LinkedIn photo needs to reflect WHO you are in the workplace. It needs to be professional and look like you belong to whatever profession or business you represent. For example if you are a lawyer, perhaps a suit and smart blouse. Whereas if you are a photographer, you might be expected to have a more informal style.
- It sounds obvious, but you need to be in the photo – not your dog, not your children, not your garden, not you at the beach or climbing a mountain (unless that’s what you do for a living). Go wild and get creative in your Facebook profile photo however on LinkedIn, if you are planning to use for business or career networking, your LinkedIn photo needs to represent YOU in work mode. You want to make it look like you’d fit right in.
- Consider investing in a professional headshot photographer – for example The Headshot Guy or your local corporate photographer. My go-to-person for my local clients is Michelle Richards. Professional photographers will give you fabulous tips to help you feel relaxed during the shoot.
- However if you are doing your own photograph, remember to look at the camera (look up rather than down), be aware of your surroundings, smile, think about being relaxed and natural. And remember it’s a headshot. Check out the examples (good and not so good) below – notice how in the first three, the eyes are not centred, they’re about 1/3 of the way down:
2. Your LinkedIn professional headline
- Your professional headline needs to reflect your experience and expertise e.g. Experienced Marketing Project Manager or Award-Winning Lawyer or Social Media Expert rather than your job title e.g. Practice Manager.
- It needs to tell an immediate story of who you are, what you do and how you help.
- You are limited to 120 characters (unless you’re on an iPhone or iPad).
- Take into account the keywords that a potential employer or client might search for and include 2 or 3 of those in your professional headline.
3. Your LinkedIn summary
- Your LinkedIn summary needs to focus on WHO you are, what you do, who you help, and how you help people.
- Make the most of your 2000 characters.
- This is an opportunity to showcase your skills, talents and experience.
- Think about the summary from the potential employer’s or client’s perspective. What would attract them? What will they be looking for? What problems do you solve? How will you make their life simpler or their business more effective?
4. Experience on LinkedIn
- When you complete or refresh the experience section on LinkedIn, think about it from the employer’s perspective. What are the keywords that a potential employer, recruitment agency or client would search for?
- You don’t have to stick to your actual job titles if they don’t mean anything outside of your company or sector.
- Make use of active words e.g. ‘managed’, ‘directed’, ‘organised’.
- Demonstrate your experience with quantifiable achievements e.g. instead of “managed hardware budget“, see how much more impact this has when rewritten: “managed £3m hardware budget for the whole firm of 1500 employees across 5 offices“.
5. Recommendations on LinkedIn
- Recommendations make a good impression on recruiters. You don’t need hundreds of recommendations. Two or three well-written ones which highlight your skills and talents will have a bigger impact than a dozen recommendations which simply say “Sherry’s a great coach“. See how much more powerful this wording is: “Sherry has a natural ability to pick up on someone’s strengths and when you work with her she will help you get clear on what those are so you can really focus on what you are good at doing (even if you are not sure what these are).“
- Who can you ask for recommendations? What about former work colleagues, former manager, previous clients or suppliers for recommendations.
- When you ask the person for a recommendation, ask the person to comment on specific skills or a particular project. Make life as easy as possible for the person you’re asking.
- And don’t be shy about reminding them if they haven’t responded.
6. Groups on LinkedIn
There are groups for just about every profession and interest on LinkedIn.
- Join a few groups and then treat these groups like any face-to-face networking opportunity. Introduce yourself to the group first – don’t just dive straight in with a sales pitch.
- Be helpful, be friendly, show interest and ask constructive questions.
- You can use groups to build connections and nurture relationships with others in your industry, former work colleagues or to continue to your personal development.
7. Connections on LinkedIn
Often the women I talk to tell me that they don’t know anybody on LinkedIn and don’t know who to connect with. Here’s what to do.
- Take an A4 sheet of blank paper and write down the different communities or groups that you belong to. For example: your former/current employers, your neighbours, your running club, your pilates group, your church, university friends, people you’ve met through events or networking.
- Next write down 3 names under each group.
- Now find those people on LinkedIn and invite them to connect with you.
Connect with everybody that you know .. get active in the groups and on LinkedIn and gradually you’ll get to know and build more connections. When you attend an event, ask to connect with the people you meet. If you are very new to LinkedIn, I’m very happy for you to connect with me to get you started.
Get these 7 essentials right on your LinkedIn profile and you will feel more confident in how you use LinkedIn. Don’t forget to post updates, reminding people that you are looking for new career opportunities.