How To Create The Perfect LinkedIn Profile:
Is LinkedIn really necessary?
The answer is yes. Creating a LinkedIn profile is like submitting a tailored resume to a job posting, it can only help.
Statistics show that;
Of the 2 billion Millennials globally, 87 million of them are on LinkedIn. And of those 87 million Millennial users, 11 million are in decision-making positions.
1) Linkedin profile picture
Every Linkedin profile needs a profile picture. It may seem unnecessary at first … I mean, if an employer is interested in you, why should it matter what you look like, right? Right. However, it’s not about what you look like, it’s about your professionalism. Have you ever seen company websites where they list out the board members or directors and there’s a face with a small bio next to it? It’s not about what the person physically looks like, it’s about making a personal connection – which is the same with a LinkedIn picture. It doesn’t matter what you look like, it’s the personal connection that a hiring manager or recruiter is looking for in a candidate.
On a subconscious level, we are more connected personally to a photo (or in-person) than text on a screen. Adding a LinkedIn profile picture is not about having to look good, it’s about creating a personal connection after the hiring manager has looked at your resume or when a recruiter is looking for a specific candidate.
Tips for a good LinkedIn profile picture:
- Do not use photos from a social event (like a party) or a selfie. LinkedIn is not a social media platform like Instagram, use photos that you want to associate for your work.
- The best photos are taken in natural light, but if you don’t have access to a nice background (either indoors or outdoors), choose a nice simple wall backdrop.
- Take the picture from your shoulders upwards.
- Be creative and show yourself and your work! Not every LinkedIn profile needs to look like a yearbook photo or taken by a professional photographer; it should show your work and yourself. If you’re a creative person, you could have a photo in front of a colourful mural, or you could show a photo of you winning a prestigious award, with your product (if you own a company), show yourself.
2) Create a custom URL
I’m a huge advocate for adding your LinkedIn URL onto your resume. A resume is the first thing that recruiters see, but it is (and should only be) one to two pages long so it has its limits. It’s important to add a custom URL to your LinkedIn profile so it doesn’t look like linkedin.com/in/5646789. Changing it to linkedin.com/in/sandrajones is not only much more professional, but it also helps with SEO and it’s so easy to do!
If your first name and last name are taken as an option, try a combination of the two such as sjones or sandraj or add in a meaningful number. However, do not add to your birthdate. Your age is personal information and it can be used as discriminatorily sometimes in a recruiting process (maybe that you’re too old or too young for a job).
Lastly, if you are still not able to find a balance between your name for your custom URL, try adding your name and your professional title or designation like SandraPEng (Professional Engineer) or SandraCPA (Certified Professional Accountant).
3) Best Linkedin headlines
Your LinkedIn headline is the line directly beneath your name that describes who you are and what you do. There is no size fits all for how to create a LinkedIn headline, and the best option for you depends on your situation! Here are some examples of the best type of LinkedIn headlines:
a) If you are in full-time school: MBA Candidate at X University or Master’s Candidate for X field of study
b) If you are seeking work: Certified PMP Project Manager seeking new opportunities!
c) Your current role: Project Manager at X Company (this one is usually the easiest one most people use by default)
d) Your work-related interest/designations/specializations: CPA l International Tax Consultant l Passionate about moving the world through numbers
e) If you’re looking for candidates: Manager at X Company (We’re hiring!)
f) A professional description of yourself: 6 years of Project Management in Civil Construction
While there is no one “right” way to write a headline, make sure it concisely describes your work and career goals. LinkedIn is an opportunity to connect with people, so make sure you find the right people.
Pro tip: To maximize your searchability in LinkedIn make sure you include keywords – your job title, designations/certifications, skills. Things a recruiter would be looking for so you show up at the top of the list!
4) Create a magnetic LinkedIn summary
Many people skip the LinkedIn summary part because well, it’s kind of hard to write. Adding in your experience and skills is pretty easy on LinkedIn because it is more or less what’s written on your resume, but a LinkedIn summary can be difficult to start.
You can write a LinkedIn summary in two ways, either in first person (using “I”) or in the third person (using your name). For example, you can write it as “I have 7 years of experience in X” or “Kimberly has 7 years in X.” There is no right or wrong format, it’s a personal preference. However, for my own LinkedIn profile, I like to use the first person because I want people to make an immediate connection with me.
So what should you include in your LinkedIn summary? There are a few notes that you can include such as your work experience, your passions, and your accomplishments. However, the best LinkedIn summaries are ones that tell a story; the story of you. Refrain from allowing your LinkedIn Summary from being just a summary of your profile. People can already see that. Explain you’re why behind your career. Why did you choose this field? What parts do you like the most? What are your accomplishments? What skills have you developed? How did your career begin and where is it now? What are you looking for in the future? Tell a compelling story.
The experience section is pretty straight forward, but treat it as an extension of your resume! A lot of times we can’t write everything we want on a resume – there simply isn’t enough space. This is an opportunity to expand on not only your work experience but your volunteer experience and personal accomplishments. A resume should always be tailored to the job posting. You should be limiting your sentences to responsibilities and accomplishments that directly correlate with the job because it is first and only shot to impress the hiring manager.
However, your LinkedIn profile can go into detail about your work experience. It creates a better overview of all your job responsibilities, not just the one related to the job posting on your resume. Add in all your professional work experience onto your LinkedIn profile, within reason, from the last 10 years (you don’t need to include the fast-food restaurant that you worked at when you were 16 if you are now a tax consultant).
Remember that this a profile shot of you, what do you wish your future managers knew about you? Maybe you are extensively involved in a volunteer organization that only appeared as one or two lines on your resume, but you have done incredible work for them. Add that here. Since there is no limit on a LinkedIn profile, show off your full portfolio in the experience section including languages you speak, projects you’ve worked, and additional education/certifications you have.
6) Skills and Endorsements
The skills section is a really important part of your resume because when you apply for a job through LinkedIn, it will actually show how your skills match with the job posting. If you’ve ever viewed a job posting through LinkedIn, you’ll notice a section at the top of the posting where it says you have 6/10 skills required for this job. That’s important to be aware of because these are the actual skills that employers are looking for in their job candidates. It’s like having a cheat sheet for what they are looking for!
So be sure to add in all the skills that you have and look out for what recruiters are looking for. Instead of “Communication Skills,” your future employer may be specifying that they looking for “Business Writing Communication Skills” which you may have, but because it’s not added correctly, it doesn’t show as a match.
Be sure to add in all of your skills! Bonus if they can be endorsed, although that it is difficult because you are relying on your connections. The easiest way to get endorsements is to either ask a friend or start endorsing other people and they will return the favour.
Asking for recommendations can be kind of awkward but they are an important part of any LinkedIn profile. It’s one thing for you to say what you are good at, but recommendations bring your LinkedIn profile to a whole other level. Reach out to your contacts to ask for recommendations! I know it can be kind of awkward to get started but I find people work best when they are given directions.
For example, you could message a contact and say:
“Hi X! I hope you’re well. I’m updating my LinkedIn profile as I will be graduating from X program in a few months and am looking to get a jump start on my job search! Would you have some time this week to write a recommendation for our time at X company together? I had such a great time working with you in X department or on X project, and would really appreciate the recommendation. If there’s anything you need from me, let me know. Thanks so much in advance.”
Make sure you put some thought into it and give people a clear timeframe and directions. In this message, I said I would like it this week and I was specific about our time together. I find that people want to help but if you don’t give them a timeframe or directions, there are less likely to do it because they don’t know where to start.
Reach out to your network for recommendations on the projects and companies you would like to highlight most on your profile!
8) Contact details
Adding contact details is so easy and also so easily forgotten. If you don’t want to add all of your personal contact information, at least add your email. Personally, I don’t like my cell number anywhere on the internet – not because I don’t want people to have it, but because I always get added on to spam bot call list that tells me that the CRA will arrest me for unpaid taxes. Adding your contact info is extending an invitation to be contacted. However, if you don’t want to add in your email, make sure you add in a line in your LinkedIn Summary inviting people to message you on LinkedIn.
Last but not least, remember that LinkedIn is a platform to share, connect and engage in the information. You may not know it, but your engagement shows up in the feeds of others (like Facebook) and also on your profile. You don’t have to be a contributor on LinkedIn and writing a ton of articles, but liking and commenting on articles will show up on your profile. Be sure to show your future employers that you’re truly interested in your field and passionate about your work and what’s happening in your industry.
10) Bonus! Create A LinkedIn banner
This is not for everyone but creating a LinkedIn banner is super easy and again creates an extension of you in your LinkedIn profile. Most LinkedIn profiles look pretty cookie-cutter so creating a banner allows you to express yourself more. For easy templates on how to create a LinkedIn banner – check out Canva.com! Note: I truly believe a banner is not necessary, but it’s a great add on. Be sure to focus on the core parts of your LinkedIn profile first and then add an element of personal branding through a banner when you’ve found your professional voice.