Inside: Do you need a LinkedIn makeover? Use these tips to update your LinkedIn profile and advance your job search.
One upon a time, you graduated from college and someone told you “You should really have a LinkedIn profile. It’s like Facebook but for your career.” You said, “Oh yeah, that does seem like a good idea” and then signed up.
Fast forward many years and you haven’t touched your LinkedIn profile since. Or you’ve added in a job here and there when you’ve made a switch, but, well, let’s just say LinkedIn hasn’t gotten quite as much of your love as Instagram.
But now you’re an early/mid career professional who may be facing a job search in the near future. We are heading into a down economy, society’s needs are changing, and maybe in the midst of all this, even if your job is secure, you are just ready for a change.
Before we break out the contour brushes for this LinkedIn makeover, it’s important to note why your LinkedIn profile matters so much. That might be just the motivation you need to get this project rolling!
Why Your LinkedIn Profile Matters
So first things first, do you really need to care about LinkedIn in your professional life? Short answer – YUP. You really, really do.
Here’s 5 reasons why.
1. Google It
We live in a Google centric world. If you are applying to a job and the hiring manager wants to know more about you, they are going to Google you. Do you want the first thing that pops up to be the soundbite from when a reporter interviewed you while attending a Carly Rae Jepsen concert? Or would you like a hiring manger to learn more about your professional expertise and skills?
Take the reins of your online presence. Your LinkedIn profile is going to show up near the top of a Google search of your name so let’s make it good.
In career coaching, I talk about networking all the time. ALL THE TIME.
Like it or not, a huge part of your job search is going to come down to who you know because people like to hire people they know and trust. So when a job opens up, one of the first things a hiring manager might do is ask their colleagues – “do you know anyone who would be a good fit for this job?”
Be that person someone knows by being active in your networking. You can do that by engaging at events (though they may be online right now) and by engaging on LinkedIn. Participate in discussions, reach out to old contacts to catch up, find an alum from your college who works at your target company and ask for 20 minutes of their time to talk about their career path.
LinkedIn is huge for networking, so you want to be there, and to be putting your best foot forward. This is true for job-seeking, and for attracting new clients if you run a business that offers a professional service like consulting, writing, coaching, or financial advising.
3. Career Switching
Thinking about switching careers? Whether you are trying to pull the industry, function, or location lever, there will be some challenges outside of making a switch from one company who sells widgets in your city to another company in your city who sells the exact same widegets.
So to showcase that you are dedicated to making this change, you can use LinkedIn to follow thought leaders in your chosen field to learn about the industry. You can update your LinkedIn profile with appropriate keywords that showcase your transferable skills instead of pigeon holing you into one field or function. You can even change your location to indicate the new location you’re making a move to so that you’ll appear in recruiter searches.
LinkedIn can set you up for success in different ways that your resume so take advantage of it!
Speaking of recruiters, they are on LinkedIn. They are all on LinkedIn.
Meet the keepers of the jobs right where they are and make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date and represents your professional brand. This way recruiters can easily find you AND see how your skills could be a good fit for their client. With a strong LinkedIn profile, you are making recruiters’ jobs easier (which they appreciate) and they are contacting you about open roles (which you’ll appreciate).
Winning, times two.
5. Job Postings
You know that LinkedIn is a job board too right? A darn good one at that! Thousands of companies are posting jobs on LinkedIn every day because that’s where they know they can find great talent.
With that in mind, you know you are going to want to spend some time on the platform browsing opportunities and applying. And if a company is posting a job on LinkedIn, do you think they will be checking up on candidates on LinkedIn too? You betcha! Make sure you’re making a great first impression.
What You Need for a LinkedIn Makeover
Convinced that a LinkedIn profile is worth your time and ready to give your profile the makeover it needs to stand out? Let’s get to work!
You likely aren’t including a picture on your resume, which is a good call. Application Tracking Systems (computer software that scans job applications before they get to humans) don’t love graphics and it can be a bit distracting.
But on LinkedIn, photos are an important part of your profile. So if you don’t have a photo, let’s fix that now. If you have a professional headshot this will be super easy. Hit upload on the profile photo and you’re all set.
If you don’t have a professional headshot or a professional-looking photo that only has you in it, no awkward cropping, you can DIY this. Put on a professional top and step out into some natural light with your partner or a physically distanced friend. Take the photo with a neutral background, focusing on your chest on up.
I suggest outside instead of in front of a blank wall because indoor lighting can be harsh and that white wall can make your photo look a bit like a passport photo. But if you have a cool wall and good light inside your house, go for it!
A lot of people skip the cover photo on LinkedIn, but if you’re going to do a LinkedIn makeover let’s get it done right!
A cover photo should be professional but also showcase a bit about your personality. For example, as a writer and a career coach who always has a few non-fiction and fiction books on my nightstand or queued up on Audible, I chose a bookshelf with some pops of color as my cover photo. It’s not distracting from the content, but it does provide an extra aesthetic as part of my online presence.
Need a place to find some good cover photos? Try my favorite place for graphic design and free photos – Canva!
The default headline in LinkedIn is your most current job title. That’s fine, but does it really add much value? Your most current job is going to be front and center on your profile anyway.
If you’re job seeking, or using LinkedIn to attract new clients to your existing business, your headline allows you to tell your story. For example, my LinkedIn headline is Career Coach | Writer | Mom of 2. If I didn’t change my headline it would say “Associate Director, Recruiting Operations” or “Founder.” Both of those current titles are great, but neither showcases exactly what I do or who I am.
You can use industry or job-specific keywords, a very brief elevator pitch, or be creative and quirky if it’s a fit for your intended audience. Other examples of great headlines include “Experienced Manager and Community Leader,” “Education professional passionate about empowering students through technology,” or “Content Marketer with a Creative Flair and Strategic Lens.”
The About section is my favorite part of a LinkedIn profile because it closely mirrors my favorite part of a resume, the Professional Profile or Resume Summary. But you aren’t a career nerd like me, and I don’t expect you to have favorite parts of job application material… so let’s just get into why the About section is awesome.
In the About section on LinkedIn, you have a chance to tell your own story before someone dives into your experience. It’s typically written in a short narrative style so it’s also a place to show off your communication skills. You know you are more than a list of jobs and accomplishments, you’re a really cool person with interests, passions, and drive. Show that off and give a future employer a chance to see how you could solve a problem for their company.
To write a great About section, think about your intended audience. Who are you writing to and what does that person need to know about you? What are the three major skills that you would bring into a new role that you want to drive home? Are there aspects of your personality and professional capabilities that aren’t clear by looking just at your job history? What keywords are relevant for your job search and how can you include them?
LinkedIn Short URL
This one-minute quick fix to your LinkedIn profile is a must for job-seeking and networking.
Ever noticed that your LinkedIn URL to your profile is your name plus a string of random numbers. Like linkedin.com/in/beccacarnahan13849347. Kind of weird right?
You can easily change this by going to your Profile >> Edit Public Profile & URL
Then click the pencil icon next to Edit your custom URL.
From there, you can switch out the last part of your URL to anything you want that is currently available as a URL. I suggest your first and last name or first initial last name.
Then when you add your LinkedIn profile to your resume, which you should definitely do, your URL is nice and clean. Ta-Da!
You have probably added in your past work history to your LinkedIn profile, or at least you did it once when you first joined the platform. If you haven’t updated this in in a while, make sure your experience is up to date and includes some bullet points from your resume that showcase your key accomplishments.
Not sure where to start with your bullet points? Head over to this post about resume content to find out how to structure your content so it’s not a list of tasks and responsibilities, but rather shows have you’ve made an impact throughout your career. That’s the good stuff!
Your education section should include any advanced degrees you have after high school. This part will take you about a minute to fill in, so again, super easy.
Here’s why this is really important though! Remember that point about networking? LinkedIn is a networking social platform, and one way users interact with LinkedIn and find potential new contacts is by starting with warm leads. What could be an easier in than sharing an alma mater?
To find connections from your college or university, add in your colleges and degrees, then click on the name of the institution and select the Alumni tab.
From there, you can filter alumni by all kinds of keywords including companies they have worked for, industries, locations, etc. It’s a super powerful way to start networking, and you want to be in on that game!
We have talked about the importance of transferable skills before and we’re going to talk about them again! We all have great skills, but sometimes it’s hard to talk about how awesome we are. Feels a little conceited, right?
But just like your resume and your cover letter, your LinkedIn profile is a marketing document. You are selling yourself in the job market and helping future employers understand how you can help them solve a problem. To do that, you need to highlight what you’re great at.
Add in the Skills section and search for relevant skills based on your past experience AND skills you have that are directly related to your search. If you already have the Skills section then you might find there are some skills in there that others have endorsed you for that aren’t actually your jam. You can remove those easily and curate your skills to have a list that feels most representative of your professional brand.
Another thing to keep in mind, you can change the order of the skills on your profile. Your top three will show up at the top of your list of skills and it defaults to what you have the most endorsements for. Use the little push pin icon to select what you want at the top.
When you are looking for a product on Amazon, how often do you check out the reviews? Maybe not for a roll of toilet paper, but I bet you do for toys, patio furniture, a TV, or a book. It’s helpful to know what other people think about something before you buy!
Recommendations on LinkedIn serve the same purpose. When I’m looking at a LinkedIn profile I certainly don’t count a person out if they don’t have recommendations, but you best believe I’m going to read them if they are there! I want to know what your colleagues think of you because it provides helpful context and credibility regarding what you are saying about your own experience.
So for job seekers, I vote “Yes!” on Recommendations. Ask a former colleague/classmate to provide you a recommendation on LinkedIn. It’s as simple as emailing something along these lines – “I’m currently updating my LinkedIn profile to help showcase my experience and transferable skills. Would you be willing to provide me a brief recommendation on LinkedIn regarding our work together on XYZ project? It was a pleasure working with you and I value your opinion.”
There are a bunch more sections you can add to your LinkedIn profile too and it’s worth spending some time looking at what is there that could be helpful for you. For example:
Featured Posts – Highlight articles you’ve written to show your thought leadership.
Volunteer – Showcase your community engagement or skills utilized outside of your current role.
Licenses & Certifications – Very relevant for specific types of jobs and helpful when switching careers.
Languages – Got language skills? Show them off! Companies may be looking for candidates who can speak multiple languages.
Awards – It’s not braggy to talk about awards you’ve received. You earned them and if they are relevant to your career, they belong on LinkedIn.
As you complete your LinkedIn makeover, make sure to round out your profile with these additional sections as appropriate to tie up that professional online presence with a bow!
Ready, Set, LinkedIn Makeover!
Do you have everything you need to give your LinkedIn the makeover it needs? Then get going! Head over to your LinkedIn profile now and get started.
And if you’re ready to get started on your resume too, download the free resume checklist that will walk you through those steps.
Looking forward to seeing your spiffed up LinkedIn profile on the interwebs! If you have any questions just give me a shout.