LinkedIn Profile Optimization For Dummies Cheat Sheet
Your LinkedIn profile is more than just your resume! It’s your digital introduction and first impression to the world. Make sure that first impression is a good one by optimizing your profile. This handy Cheat Sheet offers quick references to tools and tips to help make optimizing your profile efforts easier.
5 Tips to a Job Search Optimized Profile
When you are in the midst of a job search, it’s imperative your LinkedIn profile showcases you in the right light and makes a hiring manager, recruiter, or human resources professional want to reach out to learn more about you! Here are 5 tips to help make your profile stand out:
- Update your profile picture.
Your profile picture is your face to the world. Make sure it is current and presents you looking friendly, warm, and well adjusted.
- Update your headline.
Most likely your headline still lists your old position and old company. Time for an update! Start your headline with the title of the position you are targeting. Add a symbol, such as a solid circle or a star. Next, add some keywords that describe you, separating each keyword with the same symbol as earlier. Finally, end the headline with, “Looking for a new opportunity.”
- Infuse your profile with keywords.
Recruiters, hiring managers, and human resource professionals query LinkedIn looking for talent. To be found, you need to determine what keywords a person looking for someone like you is using. The easiest way to find these keywords is to locate a job description of the job you are targeting. If the job description states the best candidate is good at strategic relationships, business development, and public speaking, make sure you use these terms to your Headline, Summary, Job Title, and Job Descriptions. It’s impossible to get found for keywords that are not in your profile!
- Write a compelling summary.
The Summary is where you tell your professional story. Describe what you do and how it helps others, and write in the first person. Remember that job description from Tip 3? Make sure you incorporate the key terms that are important to your target position. You can include some key achievements from your previous company and how it positively affected your company, the customer, your team, or the bottom line. Finally, make sure you include your contact information. You want to make sure that if someone is interested, he can easily reach you even if you aren’t directly connected on LinkedIn.
- Showcase your experiences.
It’s important to list at least three previous job experiences. If you are no longer working, add an end date to your last position. Within each experience, provide a summary of the company and in a sentence or two, describe your role and responsibilities. Next, highlight three to four top-level achievements. Before you hit save, include this sentence at the very end: “For a detailed list of accomplishments, please request a copy from me.” Don’t forget to add your email address and phone number!
Taking Your Own Professional Profile Picture
Your LinkedIn profile picture is your face to the world. It’s important that it presents you looking your very best. When possible, have your profile picture taken by a professional photographer to take advantage of her professional equipment and years of experience and training. However, if working with a professional photographer is outside of your current budget, here are tips for taking a great professional-looking picture yourself.
- Enlist a friend to take the photo.
Even if you have a tripod and camera with a timer, it’s best to have friend assist you. It’s easy to get overly stressed when all the responsibility is on you to look good and capture the right image. Working with a friend minimizes this stress and allows you to concentrate on posing and smiling.
- Your phone’s camera works just as well as a digital camera.
If you don’t have a digital camera, don’t despair! The cameras embedded into smartphones are great and take high-quality images. Whatever you do, don’t take your picture in “selfie” mode. The camera on the outside of the phone typically produces higher-quality images than the selfie camera located above the screen.
- Dress for success.
Just because you are taking the photo yourself doesn’t mean you should skimp on your outfit or grooming. You want to dress professionally. Make sure your hair is combed and styled. Pretend as if you are going in for a job interview or meeting with a top client.
- Use lots and lots of light.
Position yourself near a window where there is natural light. You can also move some lamps into the room to get even more light, just keep them outside of the frame.
- Fill the frame.
Have your friend stand 5 to 10 feet away, holding the camera around face level. The frame of the image should consist of some space above your head, your entire head, shoulders, and just a little bit of your torso. Remember, the image will get cropped later into a square, so it’s important you have some image space to spare for cropping.
- Say “cheese!”
Smile! As your friend starts to snap your picture, smile as warmly and confidently as possible. Think happy thoughts. Have your smile engage your entire face so that your eyes crinkle and your cheeks rise.
- There’s no such thing as too many pictures.
It takes a lot of pictures to get that one, single, great shot. Don’t expect to hit upon the best image in one or two clicks. Your friend may need to take 50 or more pictures to get the best image. The reason is twofold: Your friend is most likely not a professional photographer and you are not a professional model. It takes time to get comfortable and to start feeling at ease.
- Edit to make the image even more perfect.
Once you have that great shot, it’s time to edit and crop. There are numerous online image editors you can use, and most computers are preloaded with imaging apps. Adjust the brightness, contrast, and color. Crop the image so that it’s a perfect square. The image should consist of your face and a sliver of your shoulders. This is a headshot, so no elbows, knees, or feet!
Creating a Powerful LinkedIn Summary
The summary is one of the most challenging areas of the LinkedIn profile to write and it’s one of the most important. Here are some quick tips to help you create a LinkedIn summary that will get you noticed!
- Introduce yourself.
Imagine you are at a luncheon. A person you do not know comes over and immediately begins to tell you about her accomplishments. How strange, right? That’s what a LinkedIn profile without a summary is like! Think of your LinkedIn summary as your digital introduction. Just like in the real world, the first natural thing to do is introduce yourself. In fact, when you introduce yourself, you don’t just stop at your name; rather, you tell a little bit more about who you are and how you affect others. This is also known as an “elevator pitch.”
- Tell your story.
Your summary is where you tell your professional story. Think in terms of what your reader needs to know about you and weave it into a first-person narrative. People are moved by the reason you do something versus how you do it. Why do you do what you do? What is your professional passion? How do you help others? What results can a person expect when working with you? What differentiates you from others? By answering these questions, you will find that your summary will take shape.
- Include your achievements.
Once your reader has a better idea of who you are and why you do what you do, it’s now okay to start talking accomplishments. Write about a high-level career achievement that positively affected your company, your customer, your team, or the bottom line.
- Include your contact information.
At the end of your summary, include the best ways for a person to contact you, even if you are not directly connected on LinkedIn. (Remember, the contact information fields on LinkedIn are only visible to your first-degree connections.) You may provide your email address and/or your phone number.
4 Tips to Impressive Endorsements
The Skills and Endorsements section on your LinkedIn profile provides insight into your top-level strengths. It also helps LinkedIn determine whether or not to show your profile in result listings for keyword searches. Don’t ignore this section — instead dominate it by following these tips:
- Don’t max out.
LinkedIn allows you to list up to 50 skills, but instead of selecting 50, only select those skills you feel define you absolutely. Aim for 25 to 35 skills. By choosing fewer, you are providing your network with a smaller list of skills to endorse and thereby forcing them to endorse only your strongest skills. When you max out your skills, you are most likely adding skills that aren’t 100% descriptive of you. By only listing your best qualities, you ensure your network endorses you for the right skills.
- Get real.
Choose skills that showcase what you want to do into the future. If you are no longer interested in coding Java, don’t add it to your skills. Your skills should align with your career vision, not your career past.
- Request endorsements.
The more endorsements you have, the more credibility you earn. The secret to getting endorsements is to ask for endorsements. Send a simple LinkedIn message to the connections in your network who know you best and ask for an endorsement. People love to help others, so ask and you will receive.
- Quid pro quo works too.
By endorsing others, you will find that they endorse you in kind. It’s only natural, as people feel a need to reciprocate. Whatever you do, only endorse others authentically and genuinely. People are turned off and won’t reciprocate if they feel you endorsed them for the wrong skills.