As somebody that is in talent acquisition, I would say that on average, I look at somewhere between 100-200 LinkedIn profiles daily. It is shocking how many I come across that are poorly executed or that just downright make me cringe. In the age of social media, LinkedIn is thought of as the top professional social networking site. Like it or not, people are looking at your LinkedIn profile every day. Even if you aren’t currently on the job search, it is important what professional image you are putting out there. Whether it be prospective clients, new office coworkers, a potential new employer, your LinkedIn profile DOES matter. It helps recruiters and hiring managers not just know who you are, but it helps them find you among thousands of other potential candidates. Below are, (in order of importance I might add), 7 areas of your LinkedIn profile that you need to make sure you are addressing today.
- Profile photo:
LinkedIn is a professional site and your profile photo should reflect that. I can’t tell you how many times I see profile photos that are unprofessional. Photos where you are wearing sunglasses, looking silly, or are inappropriately dressed are obvious no-no’s. But what else doesn’t fly?
- A photo from a group shot: Just because you think you looked great in that group photo from your sister’s birthday, do not crop yourself with a phantom hand on your shoulder or show a poor resolution photo because you zoomed in so much to crop out all the people/background.
- Photo with other people in it: This isn’t the time to post that great photo of you and your significant other, or you with your beloved cat. This is YOUR profile photo. Make it just of you.
- You’re not in a professional setting: It is great to have interests outside of work. Love to travel? Love to golf on the weekends? That is great, but that doesn’t mean your profile photo should show you on vacation on the beach. Save those for Facebook and Instagram.
You don’t have to pay to have a head-shot taken to get a great photo. Just have someone take one of you with a neutral background, good lighting, looking right at the camera with a pleasant/natural look on your face.
Your image and your headline are the first two things that people see. Your headline is important because not only does it tell people what you do, it lets them know if your profile is relevant to what they are looking for.
- If your current job title is pretty industry standard, then leave it. For example: Director of Sales at X company. Or Talent Acquisition Manager at X Company. When recruiters and employers are doing these searches, those key words will appear in bold and convey you as a match.
- But if your title is very vague or specific to your company, it probably isn’t best to use in your headline. For example: “Assistant Team Lead” is vague and doesn’t convey what you do. Instead saying: “Assistant Retail Sales Manager at X Company” let’s people know exactly what you do and will appear in searches.
So, we’ve made it past your image and headline, the next place we look is your summary. You want to use this space to speak about yourself and what benefits come to those that work with you. The reader should be able to get a feel for who you are, what you have accomplished, and what you are interested in. Some best practices:
- Grab their attention: Remember that by default, LinkedIn shows only the first three lines of your profile summary before readers have to click to see more. So, make sure that the first few lines are attention grabbing.
- Tell a story: You want your profile to be key-word rich, but it should tell a story about your career, work experience, and focuses. It should be engaging and interesting. Ask yourself the following questions: What do you do? What sets you apart from other professionals in your industry? What are your greatest accomplishments? What value have you added to your industry and organization?
- Be authentic, professional, and concise: “It’s tempting to make yourself seem like the best but allow your summary to feel like less of a pitch. It’s best to avoid words like “best” or “superior” because they can turn people off. You don’t need to talk about being the best, just demonstrate that you are” says Brynn at Refinery29.
4. Looking for Opportunities
The easiest way to start your job search is by showing recruiters and employers that you are open to new opportunities. Under your dashboard, in “career interests”, turn ON the function letting recruiters know you are open. This will open a section to show what type of roles you are open to. Some things to note:
- Location: If you are not looking to relocate, it is totally fine and encouraged to simply list where you live so that you are not bothered with job offers from out of state. If there are a couple cities you would be willing to relocate to, feel free to list those as well. If you are completely open, then click “no preferences”. Do NOT list out 30+ different cities you might want to live in. This shows an employer you aren’t willing to move anywhere for a job, but you also aren’t sure where you want to end up. It comes across uncommitted and can make an employer wary.
- Job titles you are considering: It is OK to list multiple titles, but don’t go too far. For example, if you are currently in a talent acquisition role, but have experience in marketing and sales and would be open to a role in those fields, then list those job titles as well. But this is not the place to list 50 completely different unrelated job titles. Especially if you don’t have any experience or background in them. This conveys to a recruiter or future employer that you are not clear on what you want and what career path is right for you which is a major red flag.
5. Job History/Timeline:
This is the area that causes many people to not get a call-back on their application. Reason being, this is the section that recruiters and employers go to in order to look for red flags in your work history:
- Inaccurate/incomplete timelines: According to the Muse, “When we review resumes and LinkedIn profiles of candidates, there are inconsistencies in employment dates and job titles 50% of the time.” Multiple jobs that show as having not ended, dates that don’t add up. This just shows a lack of attention to detail or just overall laziness.
- Too much information. Unless you are a recent grad, I don’t need to know about the lifeguarding job you had in college now that you are 10+ years into your career. Keep your timeline streamlined and stick to your professional career path after graduation (unless you are a recent grad).
- Listing your job duties instead of your job accomplishments: Just like in an interview, don’t speak in terms of what you did, speak in terms of the positive effects that occurred as a result of what you did. This helps an employer see how you could benefit their company. The difference in this looks like the following according to Nitro:
Instead of saying this:
- Ran annual fundraising gala
- Updated online donor management system
- Sent out monthly newsletters
You should instead put:
- Managed design and implementation of annual fundraising gala that raised $250,000, a 12% increase over previous years
- Updated online donor management system to reduce staff hours spent on data entry and increase transparency
- Designed and wrote monthly digital newsletter to 6000-member list (One donor replied that it was her favorite email of the month!)
It is important to note that there are other red flags like gaps in job employment and job-hopping that make an employer wary as well. Some of these can’t be helped. For example, most people get fired or laid off at some point in their career. That is why it is so important to connect with recruiters and hiring managers so that you can explain any of these red flags instead of just having your application thrown out.
LinkedIn is a professional networking site and a future employer wants to know that you are invested in your career and growing it. I can’t tell you how many times I notice people that have thousands of Instagram or Facebook followers but less than 500 LinkedIn connections. Unless you are an Instagram influencer, this should never be the case. Anything under the 500+ connections threshold is a red flag. In addition, under your activity, if there is none, it shows you are not active on LinkedIn and reads that networking with other professionals in your industry is something that doesn’t interest you. Some good habits are:
- Get your connection count to over 500 but with people that matter. Connect with people that you have worked with or interacted with professionally. Connect with people in your field and people that post interesting and educational content. Connect with recruiters, especially ones that recruit in your industry. The more you engage and interact with LinkedIn, these connections will come naturally.
- Activity: Interact with posts that are meaningful to you. Like, comment, and share articles that are inspirational or related to your field. Just be careful to keep inappropriate comments and trolling off LinkedIn. It is a good rule of thumb to stay away from politics or other divisive topics.
7. Skills and Endorsements
- Skills: This section is important to note because any skills listed will help you show up in searches performed by recruiters and employers. So, make sure you are taking the time to list all of your relevant skill sets.
- Endorsements: are a great way for a potential employer to see a quick snapshot reference of why you are so great. Don’t be afraid to ask previous boss’s and coworkers for these (if you are confident that they will be positive). Giving others positive endorsements will also encourage them to do the same for you.
Like it or not, social media is part of our everyday lives. But rest assured, you are able to shape and control your image so that it works for you, not against you. Hopefully these tips have helped you in some way improve your professional image, at least on LinkedIn.
Like stated above, the best way to tell your story is always going to be from your own mouth. To get in contact with a recruiter that can help review your resume, your profile, and help get your foot in the door and interviewing with hiring managers, click HERE. A Ringside recruiter will reach out to you today!
Kate Jenkins – Director of Operations at Ringside Talent