Your LinkedIn profile should never be understated. Over 87% of Hiring Managers use the platform to vet candidates before drawing up an employment contract.
Let’s get started!
If you’re actively looking for a job
or considering a career move in the next 12 months, you should be spending more time on LinkedIn than any other social media platform. It’s the world’s largest professional network with over 700 million active users and 20 million active job listings. LinkedIn has an incredible job board where you can search for jobs and filter by specific keywords and locations. You can also receive job alerts into your registered email regularly, based on your career interests and the keywords that exist on your LinkedIn profile.
The platform is packed with millions of Hiring Managers across the globe constantly seeking and engaging prospective new candidates for job opportunities. Now more than ever, with the rise of remote work, employers are quite open to hiring from anywhere in the world. For this reason alone, you should consider optimizing your LinkedIn profile and for those that don’t have one, you need to prioritize this, even if you’re not an active job seeker.
Not having a LinkedIn profile or an incomplete one is a serious red flag in the hiring community. The earlier you get to it and have an All-star profile, which I’ll discuss in a minute, the higher up you’ll come up in the search results. I can’t tell you enough how many times I’ve been contacted by recruiters to discuss new job opportunities. Even if I’m not interested in the job offer, It’s still a good way to build professional connections and learn about trends in your given industry.
Whilst in this article, I am going to help you with a step-by-step guide on how to create the perfect LinkedIn profile that attracts recruiters and hiring managers, I want you to first think of yourself as a brand. How do you want people to perceive you at first thoughts? What do you want people to know of you when they visit your page? Do you have domain expertise in one or more fields? Are you aspiring to move into a career? Whatever it is, you need to have that clearly defined before proceeding to create your LinkedIn profile.
Here’s the step-by-step guide for creating the perfect LinkedIn profile:
- Start by creating a LinkedIn account
- Sync your email address book
- Have an awe-inspiring headline
- Add a great professional photo
- Use a background that rocks
- A great professional summary is everything
- Be Strategic about your Job title
- Your Work experience should detail key achievements
- Include relevant Education and Certification
- Effectively manage the Skills and Endorsement sections.
- Ask for a recommendation
- Your custom URL is a must
- Manage your settings and privacy
- Actively grow your connections
- LinkedIn free vs Premium (Career) Account
1. Start by Creating a LinkedIn Account
If you already have an account on LinkedIn, you can proceed to the next topic, else, this is the first logical step for professionals that would like to create an account on LinkedIn. Proceed to www.linkedin.com
and you can get started by entering a few personal details such as your first and last name, an email account that you use regularly (don’t use a corporate email address), and create your password. Once you’ve joined, LinkedIn would guide you through the steps of adding more details to your profile. These details are what I’ll like to emphasize in the rest of this article.
2. Sync your Email Address Book
Making great connections on LinkedIn usually takes a bit of time. Typically, a lot of people are wary when they get an invite from someone they are not so familiar with and has a few connections on LinkedIn. This is why it is important not to miss this initial step of syncing your address book to your LinkedIn account. This way, those that know you would be invited to connect with you on the platform. If on the other end, you already have an account but you’re not sure if you missed this step, you can easily go to your LinkedIn homepage page and click on “my network” at the top bar. Subsequently, it would show you an icon on the left-hand side of the page, where you can import your contact list.
3. Have an Awe-Inspiring Headline
By default, LinkedIn uses your current job title as your headline, which may not speak volumes of your personal brand. Therefore, you seek to achieve two (2) things with your LinkedIn headline. First, is to optimize for specific keywords that when people search with, they can easily find you on the platform. If a recruiter is looking for a Machine Learning Engineer and you currently are one; you would like to include that title in your headline. The other is your value proposition and what you want people to perceive you upon landing on your profile page. LinkedIn gives its users 120 characters and whilst I don’t suggest a lengthy headline, make sure it’s at least memorable. Don’t just use your current job title and worst still, if you’re actively seeking a job, never state it as your headline. Such keywords are not optimized for search on LinkedIn and even if they were, it certainly doesn’t tell a recruiter anything interesting about you that would make them probe further.
A quick headline example for a Machine Learning Engineer could be, “Machine Learning at Google | Developing the next-gen recommender system for audio search terms
”. Yours doesn’t have to be this long, but it has to showcase what’s impressive about you professionally. The other side to this story is for you not to say what you’re not. That’s a big red flag that can get you blacklisted by recruiters.
4. Add a Professional Photo
You know the saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words”. It is quite true. LinkedIn is not like other social media platforms where you can have a picture of yourself sipping a mojito in a bikini by the beach. As a professional network, the expectation is different. My suggestion is to keep your profile photo simple. Dress professionally in a manner that speaks volumes about your personal brand. Ensure that there are no distractions such as other objects that take away the focus from your photo. According to LinkedIn, it is recommended that your face consumes 60% of the space allocated to your picture, hence, it should be more of a headshot than a full-length picture. Also consider a backdrop with neutral or one-tone colours such as grey, white, light blue etc. If you’re thinking that this sounds like a lot of work, let me leave you with this fact, LinkedIn profiles with pictures get 15 times more views and 8 times more requests.
5. Use a Background that Rocks
I’m going to be straight to the point on this one. Your background image should enhance your profile photo and speak about your personal brand. I have seen quite a number of background images that are distracting and sometimes disturbing. If you’re not self-employed, a freelancer, an author, or a senior executive promoting your company’s page, I’ll suggest you stick to plain colours. You can have access to free background images if you sign-up to shutterstock trial plan. On the other hand, if you’re promoting your brand or a product such as a book, you can create a simple background image that speaks volumes of your offering.
6. A Great Professional Summary Is Everything
Your LinkedIn summary is an opportunity for you to sell yourself and you’ll find it in the “About” section of your profile. This is not the space to rehash exactly what’s in your CV career summary. On LinkedIn, you can show a little bit of personality by talking about your passion for a specific industry and the impact you’re making in the world on a day-to-day basis. Focus on your broad strengths but do so whilst targeting various job opportunities. You have to highlight your expertise as well as showcase that you have transferable skills. Unlike your CV, which you can change to target specific jobs, your LinkedIn profile is not something you change very often, therefore, critically think of your value proposition in detail after scanning through various job roles that you’re interested in and highlight the skillset that you feel appeals to a hiring manager.
My focus here is for job-seekers, so if you’re a business owner, then you can be quite specific and narrow about your offering. Also, write your professional summary in 1st
person. This is more digestible and actual shows more of your personality. Here’s a great article on 10 LinkedIn profile summary
that stands out. It can act as an inspiration if you’re looking to make changes to yours.
Finally, I would suggest that if you’re actively seeking for jobs, you include an expertise section as the last paragraph. This would help improve visibility as well as re-emphasize your skill sets in the event that a recruiter never goes downwards to the skills and endorsement section. If you have a portfolio or other body of work to showcase. Include this as a link right after completing the summary.
7. Be Strategic About Your Job Title
This is a bit tricky for the same reason I gave above. Your LinkedIn profile is not something you change often, so be careful about what you state. There’s a difference between a Key Account Manager and a Sales Manager but that doesn’t mean you can’t use either titles if you have experience in both. It’s a matter of choice and how you want others to perceive you. Your current job title would affect where you appear in the search results when hiring managers are scouting for talents.
My take on job titles is that you should try not to be too innovative and choose one that is easily defined, clear, and suited to your career path based on your most recent job responsibilities. The most important thing is not to exaggerate or state what you’re not. If for whatever reason, you’re interested in switching careers, you should use the summary section for this.
8. Your Work Experience Should Detail Key Achievements
It’s quite likely that a Hiring Manager already knows what a Sales Manager does. Don’t state your day-to-day responsibilities but rather state what you have achieved over the period you’ve had the job. Use numbers and percentages to highlight growth or operational excellence. The work experience section is the only place that you can really demonstrate the impact your personal contribution has made for the company you work for. Avoid stating everything you do though. Between four to six bullet points are sufficient enough to make a compelling case about your achievements.
Finally, list every job that you’ve ever held that is relevant to your career. If it’s old or irrelevant, delete it. Make sure you link the company’s LinkedIn page to your profile so that the logo shows up. It makes your job experience a lot more credible
9. Include Relevant Education and Certification
This is a no brainer. It’s important to include all your post-secondary education in this section alongside all relevant professional certificates that you’ve earned. The only case I would agree that you include your secondary school education is if it’s a prestigious school with notable people in society and you’ll want those prospective connections to have a clear link and reason as to why they should accept your invite.
10. Effectively Manage the Skills and Endorsements Section
If you have developed a job search strategy and a definite career plan, one of the key areas you should consider is the skills that your prospective employer would be looking for. One of the best ways to go about this is to start with two or three job titles that you have a keen interest in and start looking for about a dozen job listings on sites such as LinkedIn, Indeed and Glassdoor with the exact job titles or similar titles and extract all the skills present. What you’ll find out during this exercise is that there would be some recurring skills across the various job listings. This should be at the top of your priority list when considering which to include in your LinkedIn profile. Once you have all the skills inputted on LinkedIn, then you’ll need to reach out to some of the connections you have that can endorse your skills. Doing this, would add more credibility to your profile.
11. Ask for a Recommendation
A lot of people are quite guilty of this, to be honest. Most people don’t ask for recommendations because they don’t see a lot of value in it, especially after considering the effort it takes to make the request. Interestingly enough, when recruiters go through your profile, a recommendation from a high-level authority at your current or previous place of work could validate some of your achievements.
I would suggest you request for at least 3 recommendations from people that have worked closely with you. The more senior, the better. In order to do this, go to the add profile section on your profile, then go down to additional information, where you would see an option to “Request a recommendation”. You can proceed with the rest of the process but make sure to notify the person you’re asking for a recommendation from. It’s just polite.
12. Your Custom URL is a Must
When you’ve created a profile on LinkedIn, there’s usually a unique identifier for your profile page, which you can see as a web link on your browser. It’s advisable that you customize the LinkedIn URL so that you can easily be found on Google. LinkedIn has a high authority on the web, so if a recruiter or anyone else for that matter wants to find out about you, the first consideration would be to insert your name in the Google web browser. What you’ll prefer to happen, is for your LinkedIn profile to be found at the top of the Google search results.
If you’ll like to get your custom URL on LinkedIn, click on the “me” icon at the top of the LinkedIn homepage, click view profile and then click the edit profile & URL section on the right-hand corner. Keep it simple by using your name and surname only. Here’s my custom URL
13. Manage your Settings and Privacy
As much as LinkedIn is a worthwhile professional network, you should fully decide on how much information you want put out there and who should have access to it. That is why it’s important to manage your settings and privacy. You can make changes to how others see your profile and network information including personal details, how others see your LinkedIn activities, and how LinkedIn uses your data. If you’re actively looking for a job, I’ll suggest that you allow more visibility to your profile such as granting access to recruiters to view your full profile.
You can easily change your settings and privacy from the home screen by clicking on your image icon as highlighted below
14. Actively Grow your Connections
Once you’re done creating an account, you should be focused on engaging with the LinkedIn community. If you’re going to take one thing from this article, my suggestion to you, is to invest about 15mins a week on the platform. Start by using the search bar to build connections with recruiters and other influencers that you align with their brand and start engaging with them. You’ll find people in your industry, especially recruiters that have thousands of following and are very active on LinkedIn. Some of them give job related tips and double as a career coach. If you want to get noticed and attract a high number of profile views, don’t just like their posts but leave meaningful comments as well.
In addition to the above, you’ll need to invest a few mins creating short posts at least 2 to 3 times monthly and publish a long form article every other month to showcase your thought leadership expertise. I’ll also recommend that your posts do not have external links except when necessary as LinkedIn algorithm prefers to keep people on the platform and therefore, your content would likely be shown to more people. There are no shortcuts here but If you do this consistently for a year, you’ll surely see amazing results.
15. Free vs Premium (Career) LinkedIn Account
A lot of people usually ask if they need a premium account and what the benefits are. For most part, I usually say no but It really depends on how much exposure you think you need. There are 5 specific features you get from using a premium career account that you don’t get with a free account.
|Features||LinkedIn Free||LinkedIn Premium
|No. of Search Results||Limited to 100 monthly||Unlimited Visibility
|No. of In-mails per month||Nil||3
|People that have viewed your profile||5 maximum||Unlimited for the last 90days
|Interview Preparation||Not available||Currently available
|LinkedIn Learning||Not available||Currently available
Based on the above, would I break my back to have the LinkedIn Premium Career account? Not exactly, especially if you’re on a tight budget. You can still get some exceptional results by using the free version. Nonetheless, I wouldn’t say you shouldn’t if you have the budget for the premium version and you’re actively looking for job opportunities very regularly. An investment of $30 monthly may not be such a bad idea considering the upside.
This post is part of the dream job course
, an 8 part series guide on landing your dream job.