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Thursday, March 6, 2014

How to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile

Job Search Tips
So you want to know how to optimize your LinkedIn profile.  I would say the main reason you would do this is to help your job search and make it easy for companies and recruiters to find you, but there are other great reasons why having an optimized LinkedIn profile are ideal, like personal branding, networking, staying on top of trends and best practices.

In any case, I am guessing you are reading this because you already know it is a good idea or because someone told you it was a good idea.  Thus, I will not be wasting time highlighting benefits.  Just know that it is a good thing.

I would also like to quickly address any critics out there who might ask, "Who are you to give advice on the topic of optimizing a LinkedIn profile?" This is the part that sounds downright braggy (if that is a word), but out of 200 million members, I was recognized by LinkedIn in 2012 as one of the Top 1% Most Viewed Profiles on LinkedIn.  So now that credentials are out of the way, let us jump in and review:

What You Can Do to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile
  1. Choose Your Picture Wisely:  I would think this was a given but unfortunately I have learned that it is not.  Please smile in your photo.  So many times I see pictures where the person is not smiling and actually looks scary or even creepy (think webcam photo taken in a dark room just illuminated by the computer screen).  It makes me pause and wonder what kind of personality they have and makes me question whether they would be a good culture fit if I hired them.  Most people want to work with positive happy individuals.  Also, please avoid full-body shots, pictures with kids or pets, side profiles, or pictures of inanimate objects.  It's just not professional.  
  2. Put Some Personality in Your Summary:  Try to infuse some personality into your Summary section.  Share what you love about your chosen career or what you are looking for in your next opportunity if you are in transition or a recent grad.  You are also able to share documents in this section.  You can attach your resume, video, presentation, or a helpful resource guide.  People love free information and the more they can learn about you or your philosophies through your profile, the better.  It creates a connection and lets people get to know you in a safe way.  And because you control the content, it allows you to be purposeful about how you present yourself.  Be thoughtful about it.
  3. SEO Your Headline and Experience:  When Recruiters are searching LinkedIn for candidates, the Experience section is heavily weighted.  Obviously, do not lie about where you have worked or what you did, but also keep in mind that it needs to be in a search friendly language.  My advice would be to find a job posting of a role similar to yours or one that you aspire to be in, and incorporate as many of those phrases and keywords as you can into your bullet points.  This will be how Recruiters find you.  Think about.  If a Recruiter wants to do a search on LinkedIn, what are they going to reference when looking for search terms?  The job description, of course.  See where I am going with this?
  4. Groups:  Join as many groups as you can.  I believe the current max is 50.  Joining some professional groups will help you stay on top of trends and give you a forum to ask questions related to your field.  Alumni groups are also popular.  This will help you with the next bullet point.
  5. Add Connections:  I know there are different thoughts on this, but try to connect with as many individuals as possible.  It is truly all about who you know when it comes to business.  I know people have been saying this since we were kids, and I was so skeptical about the validity of such a statement when I was younger.  Today, I feel like I truly understand the power of "who you know."  It is completely up to you whether you take advantage of this or not.  Those that do will reap the benefits.  Remember, everyone started as a stranger before they became your friend.  Do not limit yourself to only who you know today.
  6. Follow Influencers, News, Companies, and Schools:  Again, like with Groups, this will help you keep up on trends and also serve as great sources for personal development.  I personally love reading the articles and feel like I can always get a golden nugget of information that I can apply in not only my job but my personal life.  Who better to be inspired by than successful individuals who have already done it?
  7. Fill Out As Much As Possible:  LinkedIn is really good at walking you through everything and prompting you to fill in additional information.  Somewhere there should be a circle that will indicate your profile strength.  Strive to get that blue circle filled in all the way.  Skills, Awards, Education, Recommendations, Certifications, Publications, and Organizations are pretty straight forward.  The reason you want to do this is because LinkedIn will serve you up higher in the search results if your profile is more complete.  
As a Recruiter, it also gives me insight into you as a potential employee.  The degree to which your LinkedIn profile is optimized gives me clues to how social media or tech savvy you are, how thorough you are, how professional your written communication is, and all of that together shows me what your personal brand is.  Make sure it's telling the story you want it to convey.  How optimized is your LinkedIn Profile?  I know it can feel daunting but just get started.  A first great step?  Why not add me as a connection?  Let's grow our network together.  See you over on LinkedIn :)  Click here.
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