LinkedIn has been around for 16 years, and over this time the LinkedIn profile has become even more important than a CV. Indeed, nearly every industry now uses LinkedIn to find and vet candidates and, according to data from the Society of Human Resources Management, over 90% of recruiters rely on the site.
This means that your profile can’t just be a static storage unit for contacts you met once upon a time – it needs to be a constantly evolving representation of your professional life.
As Donna Serdula, owner of LinkedIn-Makover.com said ‘People need to be told who you are and what you do. This is your online reputation. Take control of it’.
So, what does the ideal LinkedIn profile look like? We’ve rounded up our top tips on how to make your profile stand out to a potential employer. And, even if you’re not actively looking for work, following these tips and maintaining an excellent profile on LinkedIn will ensure you are keeping your eyes and ears to the market.
Remember: you can always turn down approaches of potential job offers, but it’s much easier to know what’s out there when your profile is in a position to attract attention.1. Know how to catch their eye
The first thing a recruiter sees when they go onto your profile needs to catch their attention. For this reason, a professional picture is a must-have. According to LinkedIn career expert Blair Decembrele, profiles with a photo get up to 21 times more views and up to 36 times more messages.
Your LinkedIn headline also deserves some attention. If you’re actively looking for a new role, this space is key to grabbing a recruiter’s attention. Don’t get lost in the countless number of ‘Marketing Directors’ out there; instead, position yourself as something unique like a ‘Master of Digital Pharmaceutical Marketing’ to get more attention.
2. Include the important bits
There are a few things that belong on every profile, according to Decembrele. For instance, users who list their education appear in searches up to 17 times more often than those who don’t. Additionally, filling out the location field with where you want to work will make you appear in up to 23 times more searches.
It also benefits to invest the time in filling in the entire profile, as those users with complete profiles are 40 times more likely to receive profile views and opportunities. Why? Simply because full profiles show up higher in searches.
3. Tell your story
The summary section of your profile provides you with 2,000 characters to showcase your achievements and accomplishments. Make the most of it. This is the point where you tell your story and showcase why you would be worth a message.
You’ll also want to include keywords in this section, to enable hiring managers to ‘find you’ in a keyword search.
Quick tip: pasting a job description into an application like Wordle.net will help identify the keywords and acronyms you need to incorporate into your profile to be found.
4. Don't underestimate your soft skills
Whilst hard skills are invariably in demand, people often tend to underestimate the importance of highlighting their soft skills in their LinkedIn profile.
In 2017, 291 US hiring managers were asked how hard it was to find candidates with soft skills for the job they were hiring. 59% of this group noted that soft skills are ‘difficult’ to find, whilst 58% said the lack of soft skills among candidates is ‘limiting their company’s productivity’.
Clearly, soft skills are in demand, and by not highlighting them on your LinkedIn profile you could be missing a trick.
One of the best way to substantiate your claim of soft skills is to ask one or two colleagues to provide a recommendation. This shows potential employers that you actually possess the skills you’re claiming to have.
5. Keep it social
LinkedIn is, and always will be, a powerful networking tool for those who know how to use it.
Instead of just adding new connections you've met, actively engage with contacts by liking, sharing and commenting on their activity.
It’s fine to connect with someone you’ve never met, says Donna Serdula, LinkedIn profile expert. However, make sure you send a customised message in your invitation to encourage them to want to engage with you.
6. Keep your story alive
If you want your profile to stand out, you need to make sure it’s up to date. Whether it’s papers you’ve written, projects you’ve completed, or presentation you’ve nailed – let your LinkedIn network know what you’ve been up to.
The aim of any successful profile is to make a person want to engage with you, Serdula says, whether that’s picking up the phone to call you, clicking through to your website, or downloading your whitepaper.
Keeping your profile up to date is the best way to showcase your continued personal development and make you stand out as an interesting candidate.
7. Prove you can do what you say you do
Having colleagues, managers, clients, vendors, mentors and others provide a recommendation about your work and capabilities is the best kind of social proof you can get on LinkedIn.
Not only does it show potential employers that you have the skills you claim to have, but it speaks wonders about your personal attributes if someone has been willing to recommend you in public.
Reach out to your connections and ask them to provide a qualitative recommendation – just be sure to approve it before you put it on your profile!
Similarly, whilst endorsements are sometimes considered too easy to give, they are still important to obtain. You have control over what skills get endorsed, so choose to keep the most relevant ones that will make your profile stand out.
Overall, maintaining your LinkedIn profile is important whether you are actively looking for a new role or not. Follow these tips and your LinkedIn profile is guaranteed to stand out across your network.