10 ways to create a job-winning LinkedIn profile

By: Lisa Spiteri

LinkedIn is probably the most important professional networking site that you should be using. And because it offers such vast opportunities for exposure your profile deserves some careful thought when you’re creating it.

These days, employers use LinkedIn as naturally as a CV when screening candidates, and recruiters have also adopted LinkedIn as a tool for headhunting talent.

So where do you start?

1. Use the right picture

Choose your picture carefully. Remember – and this applies to every element of LinkedIn – this is a professional profile, you need to look the part and your picture will provide the first and most immediate impression of you. Prospective employers will be looking at your page and they will want to see someone who is presentable, someone who they can imagine successfully representing their company. So avoid holiday snaps, pictures in the pub or silly poses. A smile is okay, professional and approachable is a good combination.

2. Create a knockout Professional Headline

Make your professional headline work hard for you. LinkedIn pages always show up in search engine results, so ensure your headline is SEO friendly and keyword rich. It’s highly likely that it won’t just be your job title, so think carefully about key skills or areas of expertise, rather than purely roles - and those that you aspire to in your next job. And while you’re doing that, take the opportunity to edit your Public Profile, which is a URL. Make it mean something other than the system-generated gobbledygook that will otherwise appear. Include your name and primary job description so that this will also be picked up during searches by employers and recruiters.

3. Hone your Summary

This is not necessarily an easy task by any means, especially if you’ve been working for some years. But you have to find a way of summarising who you are, what you’ve done and the skills and expertise you possess without repeating it in other sections of your profile. It may actually be easier to write this section after you’ve completed the others, what you write about your experience and previous jobs will undoubtedly influence what you should be saying about your key strengths and qualities. Keep the tone professional, think about the kind of language employers will expect to see – analysing the profiles of jobs that interest you can be really useful here. It will also help to ensure that you are using keywords that recruiters are likely to use when searching for potential candidates.

4. Share your Experience

Your employment history should start with your current or most recent position and, for the most part, recent jobs will be the ones you should most concentrate on. Make sure you give an overview of your role and the main responsibilities. Again, thinking about the jobs you would like to move in to should help determine what you say about your experience.

5. Highlight your Skills and Expertise

This is where you can make sure that keywords related to your job are well and truly featured. Select the keywords that match your skill set and then rank them according to relevance and importance. This then gives contacts the ability to endorse you for those skills, which can be influential when prospective employers view your profile. It also allows employers and recruiters to find your details more quickly and makes you appear higher up the list ensuring you get called first!

6. Education

Like your work history, list your most recent education first. No one needs to know your primary school, but degrees, professional qualifications or well recognised training courses and the like are a must.

7. Utilise everything LinkedIn has to offer

There are other elements of LinkedIn that can help to strengthen and enhance your profile. You can add details of courses and certifications and link them to a particular job. If you speak additional languages, you can add those details. And if you do any voluntary work this can also be added to your profile – very useful if you are between jobs and want to show that you’re spending your time constructively. You can also list Recent Projects (case studies) or link to videos or Slideshare presentations you may have created.

8. Don’t embroider the truth and be consistent

Honesty is always the best policy. Don’t be tempted to make things up, because employers will check up on you, either through background research and references or during the interview itself. Your LinkedIn profile and your CV should work hand in hand, so ensure that qualifications, dates, job titles and descriptions are consistent across both.

9. Get Recommendations

Get past colleagues, bosses or clients to write a recommendation – you should have at least three (and not from your friends and family!

10. And keep it up to date!

Remember that your job search may take a while, so make sure you keep your profile updated in terms of experience and achievements. You may also want to hone it if you’re not getting results, so keep looking for ways of improving and strengthening it. It can be useful to look at the profiles of others in your field, you will undoubtedly pick up tips this way.

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