With majority of today's recruiters using social media and with LinkedIn leading as the site most used, it makes sense to give your LinkedIn profile some time and attention. It is a free platform to start building your personal brand. Consider that both clients and vendors may assess your credibility via your LinkedIn profile. You never know what great opportunity can be uncovered or what potential connection you can make with a compelling LinkedIn profile. If nothing else, think of LinkedIn as a great way to keep your resume current and updated.
You may worry that your current employer connections will see you updating your profile and/or making new connections, so you don’t do anything at all. That is a mistake and there is a solution. If you don’t want to broadcast all the changes and new connections you are making on LinkedIn, then you can shut off activity broadcasts in your privacy settings. Under Account & Settings, go to Privacy & Settings. Under the heading Privacy Controls, you can shut off activity broadcasts.
You can also choose to be Anonymous when you look at other profiles. In my business, I want people to know that I have visited their profile, but it may not make sense for you if you want to fly under the radar. It is also located in the Privacy Controls as mentioned above.
Here are some basic rules of the road for you for updating your LinkedIn profile:
1. Include a professional looking photo of you in your profile. While I do not recommend headshots on resumes or cover letters, I do recommend having a professional photo of you for your LinkedIn profile. This is not the time to use an avatar, character or your favorite actor/actress. Be authentic. Use a clear headshot photo, facing forward and smiling. You want to project a positive image.
2. Be thoughtful about your summary. Unlike a resume, where your summary is concise and short, your LinkedIn summary is an opportunity to tell your story and to reveal who you are as a person. Take the chance to inject your personality here, toot your horn a bit, and set yourself apart.
3. Optimize your profile, so it can be found with key search terms. Pick the top skills that you want to be known for and infuse them through your profile in the headline, in your summary, in your job descriptions and your skills summary. You can prioritize the order of your skills, so put those you want to be most recognized for at the top. While you are editing your profile, you will have the option to add, delete or drag your skills in the order of priority that you would like them.
4. Make your profile URL easy to search. While in the edit function of your profile, make sure to edit your profile URL to include your full name http://www.linkedin.com/in/suehardek/ so it is easy to find. The option to update your profile URL is located underneath your picture while you are in the edit mode in your profile.
5. Ensure that the information on your LinkedIn profile aligns with the information on your resume. Most recruiters and potential employers will peruse your LinkedIn profile prior to interviewing you. So, if the information on your resume differs from the information presented in your LinkedIn profile, then both could be questioned. Alleviate any potential roadblocks or concerns, by aligning the information on both.
6. Add links to personal websites, work portfolios or blogs. Don’t be afraid of a little self-promotion and taking advantage of being able to showcase your work and your personality on top of your skills and talent. It will allow you to present the full picture of who you are to your network.
7. Join Groups. Groups will give you access to people in your industry and also gives them access to you and your profile. You can get direct access to group members without having to be connected. It also demonstrates, that you have interests outside of your current position.
8. Education. Do add college and graduate degrees. Not having a degree can be non-starter for many organizations, so include this information in your profile. It’s okay if you don’t want to include the year graduated, but do include the Bachelor or Master’s degree obtained. Adding professional certifications is a plus as well.
9. Don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations and to give them. The key is to be picky about whom you ask and how well they know you and your work. Make sure it is someone that will vouch for you off of LinkedIn as well. Also, be careful in recommending those who you also feel comfortable vouching for offline. Recommendations do help paint the picture of you in other peoples' words, validating the quality of work you do and how you do it. It also showcases your ability to communicate how well you work and play with others via your recommendations.
There are a number of other tips and tricks that you can use to continue to improve your LinkedIn profile, but these are some recommendations to get you started. Take the opportunity to use LinkedIn to start building your personal brand and projecting the image you would like to your peers, clients, current and potential employers.