When I left St. Martin’s College in Lancaster as a newly qualified primary school teacher in 1987, job seeking sites like LinkedIn and Monster would have been the stuff of science fiction!
Having started my job-seeking life with a cronky typewriter, a sheet of A4 and a bottle of Tipp-Ex, I now consider a professional, updated and fully completed profile on LinkedIn to be a prerequisite of modern life, whether you’re currently employed, self-employed or seeking employment. Their Google listing says it all: ‘Manage your professional identity. Build and engage with your professional network. Access knowledge, insights and opportunities.’
I’m now deriving more contacts, more credibility and more exposure from LinkedIn than any other of my other social media profiles, and I highly recommend it to you as an essential part of your job-seeking and professional branding toolkit.
So here, in a nutshell, is my 5-step guide to setting up a killer LinkedIn profile.
Tip 1: Use A Great Photo
Your profile image on LinkedIn must be professional, high quality (not out of focus) and more formal in nature ie not a photo of you at a party, on holiday or singing karaoke.
Profiles with photographs are 7x more likely to be viewed by other people – and remember, this isn’t Facebook or Instagram, I have a personal policy on LinkedIn, and I do not accept connections from people who do not use a proper profile image. That’s because, when I get skills endorsements, I don’t want a row of grey, generic default images, I want social proof from real people:
So go for professional authenticity at all times when using LinkedIn.
Tip 2: Use Keywords For Your Sector
The art of using LinkedIn is in being seen and discovered. Depending on whether you’re a butcher, a baker or a candlestick maker, you must use appropriate keywords so that people in your industry can find you. To get a better feel for this, use the ‘Search’ function in LinkedIn to get keyword ideas and to see what other people in your sector are using to come up high in search results.
Alongside this tip, make sure that your geographic data is appropriate to the contact opportunities that you’re seeking ie do you want to bring up Cumbria as a key location, or are you open to UK or Europe-based jobs?
Tip 3: Treat Your Headline Like A Branding Exercise
You have a 120 character limit in your professional headline area, so make sure that you use it wisely. Don’t put crazy claims in here – remember, this is a professional networking site. But do write a headline that will encourage the reader to continue checking out your profile and find out more about you.
In short, make every one of those 120 characters count!
Tip 4: Customise Your Profile URL
Without getting into a long lesson on search engine optimisation here, in simple SEO terms, your profile is more likely to be found via a search engine if you include your full name. If you just leave it as the default, with a long line of meaningless numbers, it’s going to be very difficult to find you.
So get it customised and make it as close to your proper name as you can – which means if you can use http://www.linkedin.com/in/YOURNAME, do so, if not, maybe pop uk at the end and add a number if you have to … but make sure that you use your full name, with no initials!.
Tip 5: Make It Visually Appealing
A LinkedIn profile with eye-catching images and things to click is much better than one that is just one block of boring text. Make your profile easy to read, compel the reader to consume your page content.
– Using short paragraphs and sentences
– Using bullet points
– Using headlines
– Making full use of ‘Add Link/Upload File’ feature in LinkedIn to fully populate your profile with demonstrations of your work and expertise
In summary, LinkedIn has over 250 million members and as a professional networking site it has no equal. It’s important to be found online in the right way in the 21st Century, and that means professional profiles, blogs and social media profiles which are public facing (lock down your privacy settings for the party pictures, karaoke videos and fancy dress shots!).
Deploying these 5 tips on your LinkedIn profile will give it an instant online boost – and who knows where it may lead career-wise?
About The Author
Paul Teague is a Carlisle-based social and digital marketer. You can check out his LinkedIn profile here: http://www.linkedin.com/in/paulteague23uk Paul is a former St. Martin’s student who graduated in 1987. He has since returned to do an NES Business Start Up course at Fusehill Street Campus and some freelance lecturing at the Brampton Road campus.