Social recruiting is on the rise, with an estimated 92% of recruiters using social media to find qualified job candidates. According to Staff.com, 87% of this is happening on LinkedIn.
Whether you are looking for a new job, or simply taking proactive steps to manage your career, LinkedIn is an important tool for today's professionals. To be effective, you have to know how to use the social media platform to build your personal brand, so that prospective employers and recruiters can find you.
9 Guidelines for Creating a Professional LinkedIn Profile
Recently, Jennifer Urbanski (an Account Executive with LinkedIn Marketing Solutions) shared a series of job search tips
for professionals hoping to use LinkedIn to snag their next professional opportunity. According to Jennifer, “Although there are guidelines, remember they are guidelines, so go with what makes sense to you.” Keeping that in mind, here are LinkedIn’s guidelines for optimizing your profile.
1. Background Photo
All social media platforms have a background or cover photo – different from your personal photo – but they have different size requirements. For LinkedIn, the size of the cover photo is 1400 x 425 pixels with a maximum file size of 4mb. Your cover photo is the first thing that people see when they visit your profile, so you want to create a great first impression. Additionally, think of the background photo as a billboard - a priceless piece of real estate – so be careful with what you are advertising.
2. Professional Headshot
Your professional headshot
is just as important as your background photo because it is also one of the first things that visitors see. Today’s smartphones have high resolution, so they are suitable to take professional looking headshots. Make sure the background is uncluttered, there is enough lighting, and it’s a close-up of your face.
3. Headline: Title, Industry, 500+ connections
This is a section where many professionals get a failing grade. They usually write their positions there, but when creating your headline, think in terms of what you can do for employers and clients, and not a job title. Remember, you are the solution to the work problems that keep them up at nights. This is the perfect place to write your tagline to distinguish you from your peers.
Five hundred connections seem to be the magic number for LinkedIn, so make sure that you have at least that many connections, or you may be perceived as someone who does not take his or her career seriously. If you do not have 500 connections, start reaching out to people you have worked and volunteered with in the past, and those you attended university with. When you send them an invitation, personalize the message, and do not use the standard LinkedIn message.
4. Own Your URL
At this point, you may be wondering how you can own your URL. It simply means that you have to customize your LinkedIn URL. Go to your profile, just below “View profile as,” you will see your LinkedIn URL, if it has your name and a lot of numbers and letters in it, that means your URL is not customized. To customize it, hover the mouse beside your URL, you will see the Settings wheel, click on it, and to the right side at the top of the page, you will see your URL with the edit image (looks like a pencil), click on it, a box will appear, write your name in the box then save. When you own your URL, you show up much higher in search engines. That’s one of the ways that recruiters and hiring managers will find you.
5. Three-Paragraph Summary
LinkedIn recommends a three-paragraph summary:
“Paragraph One: Focus on Career Highlights. What is a common theme in your professional career? If you are and mergers and acquisitions expert, state that.
Paragraph Two: What are you doing in your current role, or your past one?
Paragraph Three: Let people know something personal about you such as your hobbies and volunteer work. People want to see the real you, and what makes you unique.”
Remember the comment Urbanski made earlier, that the guidelines are just that – guidelines. A better format is to identify three powerful issues in the industry, and how you are the solution to the issues – demonstrate how your strengths and experiences align with your core deliverables. Align your summary with your ideal company’s needs.
6. Work Experience
LinkedIn is not your resume, so there is no reason to have all your work experience there – focus on your last 15 years of work experience. A profile with complete work experience is viewed 12 times more than those without. You want your work experience to tell a story, be conversational and write in the first person. Additionally, be sure to include keywords that are important to your industry and job function. LinkedIn is also a multimedia platform, so include examples of your work, videos, SlideShare presentations and images. Remember that when recruiters are checking out your profile page, they are also looking at work examples.
Add your Top Ten skills, so that others may endorse you. Although LinkedIn allows you to add 50 skills, Jennifer Urbanski recommends that you should include only your Top 10, which keeps your profile clean. The magic number for endorsements of skills is 99, so your profile will show 99+ when you reach that number. Endorse others because they will more than likely endorse you. This section shows that you are active on LinkedIn.
8. Volunteer Experience
Recently, LinkedIn separated paid from non-paid work, so now there is a special section for volunteer work. People who visit your LinkedIn profile want to see what you are passionate about, so complete this section. According to LinkedIn, “1 in 5 managers hired someone because of their volunteer experiences.” Volunteerism matters to prospective employers, and it's a great way to build and develop your professional experience
9. Status Updates and LinkedIn Publishing Platform
Determine how often you will share updates on LinkedIn because people want to know that you are active. Consistency is more important than the frequency of your updates. A status update can be as simple as sharing a great article you read and adding your insights, or sharing an image or a video.
Urbanski emphasized that LinkedIn wants to be the destination where professionals consume content. With this in mind, it is important to submit your articles using LinkedIn’s Publishing Platform. Sign into your LinkedIn account, where you will see, “Share an update,” “Upload a photo,” and “Publish a post.” Choose the option, “Publish a post.” It’s best to write the article first, then copy and paste to LinkedIn.
Following the guidelines mentioned above may sound like a lot of work, but it is worth the time investment, especially if you are seeking a new employment opportunity. Take the time to do things right, and do the right things.
Set aside about two hours of undisturbed time. Print this blog post, then follow the guidelines, so that you can optimize your LinkedIn profile.
While you are updating your profile, make sure that you turn off your notification – no one needs to be notified of all the changes that you are making.