Recent events and widespread unemployment have generated a new focus on LinkedIn as a job search tool. With more than 680 Million LinkedIn users, the smallest details about your LinkedIn profile can make all of the difference between standing out and getting noticed by employers and recruiters… or not. How do you make sure that your LinkedIn is optimized? Here are the top five tips to create a winning LinkedIn profile.
1. Know your personal brand: It is very important to know your personal brand. In short, that means you need to have a clearly defined perspective of who you are and what you do that makes you stand out. Why should an employer hire you? What are YOUR selling points? It is very difficult to create a social media presence or a LinkedIn account that promotes your brand when you are not sure how to define it. Know who you are first and then how you proceed will flow from that.
2. Create a memorable and descriptive “Headline.” LinkedIn defaults to your job title or school status as your LinkedIn Headline. Change it. The LinkedIn Headline shows up everywhere you do on LinkedIn; in searches, emails and posts. Those 130 characters are the most valuable real estate in all of social media. When used correctly, your Headline serves as your LinkedIn elevator pitch, describing who you are and more importantly, why employers would want to hire you.
There is a significant debate among LinkedIn experts as to whether you should mention your job search in your Headline. I personally believe you should not. Your Headline should be about what defines you, and you are not defined by your job search. There are other places on LinkedIn to alert members to your job search.
One of the latest tricks is to put “ONO” (Open to New Opportunities) in your Headline. ONO serves as a code to recruiters who are looking for job seekers, without defining yourself as such to the wider public.
3. Use a Vanity URL: Every LinkedIn account has a unique URL. The default URL will usually include some of the letters of your first and last name and some random numbers. You can and should change your URL using the “firstnamelastname” format. This more professional URL (like https://www.linkedin.com/in/chaimshapiro) gives your profile a more polished look and, more importantly, can then be used as a signature line in your regular emails
If your “firstnamelastname” is taken, don’t worry. Try adding a dash or an underscore. In the worst case, add a professional designation (like MA or CPA) to make sure you still have your vanity URL.
4. Personalize Your Background Image: All LinkedIn users can upload a background image for their LinkedIn profile. People are visual, so a nice background image really enhances the look of your profile. LinkedIn defaults to a blue background and many LinkedIn users choose stock photos. If you really want your profile to stand out, choose a personalized picture that reinforces your brand. As a public speaker specializing in social media, my background image is a picture of me giving a social media workshop.
Make sure to choose your background photo wisely. The picture is displayed in a wide format on LinkedIn, and your profile photo will cover part of the bottom left of your background image, so make sure that it does not cover anything valuable.
5. Maximize the new “Featured” section: LinkedIn recently added a “Featured” section toward the top of your profile. This is your opportunity to add rich media content such as videos, presentations, etc. that help promote you as a job candidate.
People are very visual. Instead of telling employers about your skills, the “Featured” section allows you to show them. Instead of just claiming that I give great LinkedIn Workshops, I embed videos of my workshops so people can see for themselves.
Videos and PowerPoint presentations work really well here. I advise job seekers to upload their resume (without the address) here as well. Doing so creates a small preview of the resume text and allows viewers to download an actual copy of your resume to share with other members of their team.