Chances are pretty good that your LinkedIn profile is in need of some TLC. Want to find out?
This article is going to highlight my favorite LinkedIn profile tips, but there are a few things that you should know first:
✔ LinkedIn hosts over 100 million professional profiles in the United States today, and recruiters from 94 of the Fortune 100 companies utilize its search tools regularly to source talent.
✔ As of this year, men still outnumber women by 12% on LinkedIn. So where my ladies at? I’ll tell you where… they are outnumbering men on social media websites like Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram and Pinterest instead.
✔ Social engagement on LinkedIn is still an untapped gold mine, with only .4% of US members taking the time to share blog articles and other content via their LinkedIn accounts. This means that you can still be a pioneer and your voice is more likely to be heard because you don’t currently have to compete with the noise pollution that clogs up Facebook and Twitter.
✔ LinkedIn is highly ranked by the search engines, which means that your LinkedIn profile is one of the very first things people find when they research your name online.
✔ It is an inexpensive and highly valuable tool for building and maintaining your personal online brand, even if you’re not shopping for a new job or career change.
My Killer LinkedIn Profile Tips:
① Upload a headshot photo. The photo should look like you today, so be realistic and choose something recent vs. when you had blonde hair in 2009. I recommend a photo with you looking at the camera, by yourself, and nothing too distracting in the background. It doesn’t have to be professional nor must you wear a suit, but it should still be a good, clear photo. Whatever you upload to LinkedIn becomes the visual representation of your personal brand, so think like a boss lady and make sure that you’ve chosen an appropriate image especially for making a good first impression on people you don’t yet know.
✖ Don’t crop a photo from a night out with your girlfriends at the club.
✖ No cleavage.
✖ No hats or sunglasses, unless these are commonly part of your personal brand. It’s cool when Lady Gaga wears a wig and a lobster hat, but that’s not for everyone.
Props or no props? It depends on what you’re going for, I suppose. Hair stylists with a sassy headshot of themselves holding a curling iron? Headshot of a fashion blogger peeking slyly over a fashion magazine? My vote is yes. It’s okay to take a little risk and be creative; just be savvy about it, and maybe ask for a 2nd opinion from someone you trust before uploading.
② Claim your personalized vanity URL. Have you taken the time to claim and personalize your LinkedIn profile URL? No? DO IT — it’s free! Below is an example of the standard URL vs. a personalized URL. Using the screenshot of my LinkedIn profile for reference, find ② and there should be an “Edit” link available for you to specify a custom URL. If someone is already using your name combo then LinkedIn will probably suggest an alternative like “lisatufano14.” Do NOT accept the LinkedIn suggestion. Avoid adding arbitrary numbers to your customization and go for something like “mslisatufano” or “ltufano” or “lisatufanosalesrockstar” instead.
✖ www.linkedin.com/pub/lisa-tufano/65/993/488 <—- not cute, hard to remember and/or print on business cards, etc.
✔ www.linkedin.com/in/lisatufano/ <—- much cleaner and it assures people that you’re a savvy social media user
③ Choose a headline with impact. There is a 120 character limit (last I checked) and you should use this space wisely because it shows up in Google search results along with your name and location. That means you can potentially use this for important SEO related to your job or a future job. It also shows up in the LinkedIn search results before people even click on your profile. In fact, you might even say this is your little teaser area to put something catchy rather than just “Accountant” or “Real Estate Agent.” I currently use it to broadly describe my talents as well as display a quotation that represents my personal brand.
You can easily localize the keywords by changing plain old “Account Executive” to “Los Angeles Account Executive – Digital Rainmaker – SEO Wizard interested in Social Media Marketing and Brand Development.” Highlight your existing specialties, or shoot for the stars and use it to describe your dream job title / field. Whatever you put, be ready to back it up with your qualifications or your plans to achieve your dreams in ④ below.
④ Take advantage of your Summary. This is free billboard advertising, ladies. Recruiters use keyword searches to find you based on what you write in this section and in ③. You have 2,000 characters to work with here, so take some time and write a summary that describes who you are and what you’re all about. Make it personal and write it in first person. This is NOT the place to copy and paste verbatim from your résumé, or fill with corporate mission statements. This is YOUR personal mission statement.
To that end, provide some fun facts and a little extra background on your interests outside of work (especially the fun stuff like teaching jiu jitsu to kids, fostering rescue pups, or choreographing flash mobs). If you have not arrived at your dream job already, then you should also feature both your professional strengths today as well as highlight some areas you’d like to expand into eventually. Again, keep this section conversational and describe the version of yourself that you would want to meet.
This is about where you’ve been, and even more importantly about where you’re going.
Let’s pretend that you have been working in corporate marketing but want to transition into software sales. Try to emphasize the successes and talents that are transferrable. Perhaps focus on your passion for people, killer account management skills, a stellar customer service record with key clients, and your ability to craft compelling PowerPoint presentations and visual aids on a client-by-client basis.
If you are open to it, feel free to include your contact information (✉ email address or ☎ phone number, NOT your mailing address) at the bottom.
⑤ Build out your network. LinkedIn will recommend people based on your existing LinkedIn connections, so check this section periodically and click the “Connect” link below their name/position if it’s someone you’d like to add into your network. Even if you don’t know the person, it’s probably not a bad idea to connect.
⑥ Fill out the rest of your profile, especially with rich content. In terms of valuable LinkedIn profile tips, this definitely should not be overlooked.
✔ It is now possible to upload photo and video content and create mini-galleries that spotlight your professional work. So whether showcasing a gallery of graphic design assignments, or makeup before and afters, or a business whitepaper that you authored… there is now a place for it within your LinkedIn profile. Take advantage of this opportunity to add a visual dimension to the otherwise standard bullet points about where you have worked and when.
✔ Be diligent about adding SEO (Search Engine Optimization) keywords to your profile. For me, this was as simple as repeating certain keywords like “sales,” “marketing” and “business development” throughout my profile. You can see the keywords in my headline, summary, and my individual work descriptions.
✔ Consider upgrading your profile to Premium. There are some enhancements and perks (including customizable background images) that come with a Premium membership depending on your membership level. If you’re a job seeker or just want to keep costs down, there is still a hidden “Personal Plus” membership level for $9.99 instead of $29.99/month, but you can only access it through the LinkedIn app right now. To get it, log into your LinkedIn app, click “Who’s Viewed Your Profile,” and look for the gold upgrade button.
✔ One of the last LinkedIn profile tips I want to share is how to add some flair using old school symbols like the ones below. Unfortunately you cannot indent or align copy in LinkedIn, so these can be effective tools for creating visual separation between paragraphs, jazzing up bullet points, or highlighting key pieces of information.
Just copy and paste them into your profile and use sparingly to maximize their impact:
☑ ✓ ✔ √ ► ◄ ▲ ▼ ⇒ ⇓ ⇚ ⇛ ❝ ❞ ☝ ☟
★ ☆ ✳ ✴ ❊ ✦ ✧ ✿ ■ □ ❖ ◊ ● ♦ ◘
⇨ ⇦ ✆ ☎ ☏ ✉ ✍ ✎ ✏ ✑ ⌨ ♛ ♕ ♫