17 LinkedIn Profile Tips and 4 Mistakes to Avoid

We all know that having a great resume is a sure-fire way to land the maximum number of jobs interviews. This can be hard when you don’t have much job experience coming right out of college or only having just a few years of professional experience under your belt. But that’s no reason to give up on landing your dream job quickly. One tool that many companies are using to find their next employees is LinkedIn, and you should be on it.

What it is: LinkedIn is the equivalent of a large networking platform with resumes that offer a more significant spectrum of understanding of what you have to offer through several bonuses that won’t be found on a paper resume. It’s for business.

What it’s not: LinkedIn is not the place to post cute photos of your dog, your girl’s weekend, how epic your first date went, or your personal take on the politics trending online right now. It’s just for business.

Now with that out of the way, let’s get to business.

Creating a LinkedIn Profile

Creating a LinkedIn profile is easy and can be done by going to the website, and clicking “Create a Linkedin Profile.” Once you follow the registration process and have an account, you’ll want to go through the following checkpoints to make your profile stand out so that it will draw the right people to you. These people will be potential companies to work for in the positions you want.

Use Your Full Name

This might seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many profiles there are with just a first name. This might be great for social profiles like Facebook where you don’t want to be found by employers (this is for another topic altogether), but on here you’re looking to be found. Use your first, middle and last so people can clearly identify who they are trying to connect with.

If you have remarried or changed your name, you can also put a Former Name in there and make it visible to your network so that people who knew you before the name change can find you and identify that it was you if they don’t know your new name change.

Use a Clear and Professional Profile Photo

This is your first impression, and you can make it a good one by using a clear and professional looking photo. Don’t just grab one from your social media profile and crop your head out. These tend to be too far away, and when you crop it, you’ll look blurry. Plus, the background of the photo shouldn’t be distracting or have anyone else in it. You don’t need to go to a professional photographer to have a headshot done. Just use the following set up.

Get dressed like you would go to work at your dream job. Then find the side of a building with shade and stand about 1 foot from the wall. Try to find a very neutral or straightforward wall, like one made of brick. Then have a friend take a photo of the top 2/3rds of your body. Make sure it is focused and clear. Have them take 5–10 variations of them stepping back a little each time. Smile and look at the camera head-on. This should give you plenty of variety to choose from.

Then upload your headshot and crop it just to show your head and shoulders. Again it’s important that you smile and are looking at the camera to create a welcoming image for someone who is interested in hiring. Looking directly at the camera looks engaging, and that’s what you want people to do. You want them to be able to engage with them through your profile.

Pick a Nice, Clean Background

The next photo you’ll be able to change is the background that sits behind your profile photo and stretches across the top of the page. This is an opportunity to put a little bit of personality into it. Find a clean looking picture you want to drop behind your photo. Just don’t pick something too busy that it distracts people from your profile photo.

Make Your Headline Pack a Punch

The headline goes under your name on your profile, and you can use it to tell visitors more about yourself other than your current job description. There is another line for your actual job position below so feel free to show a little more about what you’re capable of in the headline. For example, you could say what your job is, why you love it and what brings out the passion in you. If you’re a sales rep at a local insurance agency, your headline could read, “Sales Rep with a passion for placing your security in the right hands.” If you’re a personal shopper at an upscale boutique, your headline could read, “Luxury personal shopping stylist with a flair for finding a wardrobe that reflects your unique personality.”

Current Position

Here is where you would put your actual job title. Be specific, so people know what you do. Just putting “teacher” or “sales rep” doesn’t give enough information. Saying “High School Science Biology Teacher” or “Life Insurance Policy Sales Representative” is much more descriptive.

Education

If you are newly out of school, five years or less, this is essential to put on your profile and make visible. It will show potential employers why you don’t have more job experience. You’ve been in college learning about how to work for them! LinkedIn is also a great place to connect with other alumni that might have connections to the jobs you want. So make this viable and clear.

Location Preference

If you are unwilling to relocate from where you are, this is an excellent time to put where you are located. This will help employers in your area find you and keep job offers from too far away from clogging your inbox. If you are open to relocating then putting down a specific city isn’t as important.

Let Yourself Shine in Your Summary

The summary is important. I want to repeat this. It is essential that you have one if you’re going to stand out. It’s a place that you get to shine with your personality and what drives you. Here is where you can put some of your flair for the skills you have. Don’t list them, tell how you use them and what’s unique about the way you work. Here is the time to show how you shine with those skills.

Email Matters

Sometimes people sign up with the email that they don’t often use to avoid the overflowing inbox of junk mail and newsletters that tend to flood in anytime you sign up for something. But with LinkedIn, you’ll want to put an email that people can actually reach you at. If you don’t have a professional sounding email yet and are still using hellokitty45876 @ [insert email provider here].com then it’s time to change. Use a combination of your last name, first name and middle initial name to create one. Lots of emails are already taken but using underscores to create something you can use for yourself is an easy way to get a professional looking email address.

Websites and Blogs Highlights

If you have a website that really shows off your professional skills like an online portfolio of your work, then you can put the URL in the website section. Don’t put your travel spring break blog if it’s just a hobby and your dream job doesn’t apply to what you wrote. This is for professional coverage of your skills. If you have any new articles that show off your skills or any publications, be sure to includes links to these as they are an excellent opportunity to show off what you know.

Show Your Experience

This is the most resume-like section of LinkedIn. Here is where you will put your current and past work experience for others to see. Starting with your current position, what you do, and how long you’ve been there just like a resume.

If you don’t have much work experience to put you can put internships or any collegiate work you had even if you don’t consider it a real job. As long as you gained skills from it that you think employers would like, you should include it. For example, if you had a summer internship in a dentist office just filing paperwork, you could highlight your admin support skills, communication with clients, and ability to keep projects organized. There’s always a learning experience in everything.

Specially Select Skills for the Win

The skills section is really great for finding highlightable traits companies want to see. You can scroll through the skills mentioned and pick the top 5 skills that you think apply to you and the career you want. The best part of the skills section is that your connections on LinkedIn can “endorse” these and validate that you have these said skills. Pick ones you actually have so people can agree and endorse you. Don’t go too wild and pick so many that it feels like you’re a jack of all trades. This can throw companies off and make them think you don’t specialize in your skills.

Reach Out to Contacts

Now that you’ve built a solid profile, it’s time to reach out and create a network. These are the people you know, have worked with, gone to school with or know in real life. These are the same people who will be endorsing you so make sure you connect with people that are fond of your work and can speak highly of your ethics.

If you don’t have a lot of work contacts, that’s ok. Find professors that you loved and connect with them. Find friends from college and high school that you have good relationships with as well. Then start reaching out to your current network at your job to build robust online relationships as well. It’s not ok to friend your boss on Facebook, but on LinkedIn, it’s encouraged.

Endorse Your Network

This is the give-and-take part of building an active profile for the job of your dreams. You’ll want to show the skills you want to have endorsed and go through your connections and endorse the skills your network has that you know they truly rock at! This gesture will encourage others to do the same for you so that when companies view your profile, they can see your well endorsed in the skills you mentioned.

Share Articles Relevant to Your Industry

If you are looking to get into real estate, then you’ll want to follow and list sizeable real estate firms as your interests. Then when they are breaking news or good, relevant information you can share it. This allows you to get involved in the sector you want to be in through just making connections with the content they are sharing. Commenting and leaving thoughtful feedback can help you get the eyes of the right people on you. It also keeps you up in people’s feeds when you share still that is relevant to them.

You can also create your own blogs and articles to share with your connections. This is a great way to show off your skills and knowledge of your industry.

Create Articles that Inspire, Inform and Edifies You

Just as you can share articles from big companies, you want to be a part of and people you want to connect with, you can also create your own. This is an excellent tool to share information, show your knowledge off and build credibility on the platform. Keep the articles positive, less opinionated and more informative. These articles show that you know your stuff and are less about letting others know you have an opinion about a particular subject. A budding real estate agent could post an article about the top 4 styles of houses selling fast in their NYC area or the new changes to getting prequalified for a mortgage to show a deep understanding of their area of expertise. They could even do a step-by-step guide for finding the right realtor to fit someone’s needs. Use quality references just like you would in an academic article.

When you share these with your network and others share your articles it can land your name in front of the right people for the job you desire.

Now that we have covered the steps to a baller LinkedIn profile to land the job of your dreams, there are just a few last things to look and make sure are NOT in your profile.

Edit Your Profile Before Publishing

There is no bigger turn off for a company looking to recruit someone than to come across a resume or LinkedIn profile that is riddled with spelling and grammar mistakes. Before you publish your profile be sure, you have everything correct. If you are not skilled in writing, you may want to use a free program like Grammarly to help you edit your profile.

This program is also useful to use when you are writing a cover letter or any professional email. Your ability to write can impact how seriously someone takes you and be what causes a possible employer to pass you over. Grammarly offers a free version of their software so you can get some basic editing for your writing. They also offer a premium version that does a great job at catching all the little mistakes. Check it out, and try it. This is one software no professional should be without.

What to Avoid When Creating Your LinkedIn Profile

Buzzword Burnout

Linkedin has actually written a blog cheat sheet on the most used buzzwords found in profiles, and they are listed here:

  1. Strategic
  2. Creative
  3. Specialised
  4. Leadership
  5. Passionate
  6. Experienced
  7. Focused
  8. Enthusiastic
  9. Expert
  10. Track record

Not that these words need to be avoided entirely, they just need to be used carefully and where they apply. Just because they are popular doesn’t mean you need to use them too. In fact, it’s best to find ones that apply to you and skip the rest. Employers who scan your profile and see 10 out of 10 of these will feel like your keyword stuffing. And if we’ve learned anything from Google that can really penalize your authenticity. Instead, if you find yourself drawn to these words try breaking out the thesaurus or just going to www.thesaurus.com.

Social Media Socialite

While your friend from your Cabo trip in college who’s still a party animal might look like an easy person to link up with on the LinkedIn, be sure to check their profile and see that it makes sense to get linked. This isn’t a platform for friends meeting friends. It’s about business, and you want to make connections with other people that mean business. This isn’t about ladder climbing either so don’t discredit connections just because they aren’t the higher-ups you’re looking to rub shoulders with. Just make sure your connections are of quality. It’s quality over quantity on this platform.

Share in Controversy

There will be times when people share articles that could work against you. Always read through to make sure everything you share is positive. You’ll be surprised how often you come across an article that leaves a bad review of companies or services. Even if you agree, it’s best to steer clear of this. You’ll make a better impression by putting your positive pants on and avoiding anything that could reflect poorly on you or someone else.

Using Articles as a Personal Blog

The same thing applies to the articles you write. Keep them informative and positive. Also, just because you got an A on your freshman creative writing piece, doesn’t mean it belongs on your profile (unless your dream job involves creative writing). It might show you are a good writer, but if it’s not relevant to your field, it’s just easier to put writing in your skills if you want employers to know. Instead, find past academic articles or write on your desired field to impress job recruiters.

Just like you shouldn’t share, and like negative articles that are floating around, you shouldn’t be writing them either. You might have gotten burned at your last job or passed up for a desired and maybe deserved promotion, but that doesn’t mean this is the place to call people out. Remember, when people are looking to hire people they aren’t just looking at skills. More and more companies are looking for the right person with the right skills AND the right culture to fit into their companies. Exude a culture that people will want on their team.

Originally published at www.studentloandiet.com on August 17, 2018.

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