Regardless of your job role and how experienced you are, LinkedIn is a networking tool you need to be on. In the first post of the series, we found out that almost 90% of recruiters used this platform to find new talent. That means the other 10% probably use job boards. So let me ask you this. Think back to when you were last job hunting. Or if you’re job hunting right now, think about your process. Where do you spend the majority of your time? On job boards? Or on LinkedIn?
I started looking for a job last summer and I spent 90% of my time searching job boards. This was a mistake. Especially since the last two jobs I've had have come through LinkedIn. On April 16th in the first part of this series, I said I’d had five job offers through LinkedIn. Since then I've had three more.
This might not seem like a lot to you. But it’s just proof that it’s possible.
But LinkedIn isn't specifically for recruiters. Say you've got your own business. A potential client finds two graphic design services they’re really keen on, one of which is yours. They check out each business on LinkedIn. One of them is really detailed. It’s filled with lots of information, skills and recommendations. The other is very sparse with information. Which business do you think the potential client is more likely to be persuaded by?
I mentioned in the other post how I needed to split this feature in two because there was so much information. So today I’m going to go through the other aspects of creating a great LinkedIn profile.
Oh, and definitely look out for the freebie I've made for you at the end!
#1 Your Summary
Your LinkedIn summary is the first chance a potential employer has to find out who you are beyond your picture and current job title. It’s one of the most crucial parts of your whole LinkedIn profile. This is your opportunity to show off and document everything you've done in your career so far – in a summary format.
In the online world, we’re always hearing things about search engine optimisation – you can find a great post on what that actually means here.
It’s important to include keywords in your content to help it to be found in search engines. Well the principle for LinkedIn is the same. Like Google, LinkedIn has algorithms that search for keywords when a user is searching for something. So if a recruiter is searching for “graphic designer”, and you've got that keyword scattered all over your profile, you’re more likely to be found. So it’s good to try and use keywords that match the jobs you want to apply for and that recruiters will search for.
Looking at the keywords I include in my summary gave me a list like this:
- Digital marketer
- Content writer
- Large websites
- Email marketing
- Brand visibility
- Social media strategist
- Creative blogging community
And that’s not including my paragraph of specialities.
You've got a maximum of 2,000 characters for your summary. Try to use as many of these as possible. Use sub headings to break paragraphs up if you want to and don’t be afraid to show off!
I decided to write my summary in third person and split it into four paragraphs:
- My skills by trade
- My skills by expertise
- My main achievements
- My specialities
The paragraph on my trade skills shows what I've been trained up to do in my career. These are skills I practice on a daily basis and that I improve on during every task.
The paragraph on my expertise showcases my expert knowledge in a field, or what I specialise in. This information comes more from the blogging side of my life and everything I've taught myself to create.
The third paragraph is perfect to mention any big awards you've won or something huge you achieved at work. This for me, details my NCTJ award for being deputy editor of a team brand project during my master’s degree. What’s great about putting this on LinkedIn is that people know you’re not putting this for the show. You’re putting it to show how good you are at what you do.
What’s important to remember with your summary is to take on the opportunity. What do you have to offer that others don’t? What makes you unique?
You've also got the chance to include media. So any PDF’s you've created, a screenshot of a testimonial, or a link to websites that have quoted or mentioned you. This all gives your profile more credibility about what you do. But there’ll be more on this later.
Why Not Try This?
Get a piece of paper and write down all your roles and responsibilities. Think about what people in your industry will search for if they want to hire you, like my list above. Then try to include as many of these in your summary as you can.
#2 Link to Other Places You Want People to Find You Online
If you have a blog, direct people to your URL. Active on Twitter? Include your twitter handle in your contact information, (@abranchofholly would be mine).
If you say in your summary that you manage a blog, recruiters are going to want to see that. If you mention you have an online portfolio, recruiters are going to want to see that. Make it easy for them and include all the relevant links on your profile.
Why Not Try This?
Every time you mention your work, side hustle or previous job, include a link to the relevant website.
The easiest way to think of recommendations is like testimonials on a website. They build trust. And there’s no limit as to how many recommendations you can request or give.
Last week, someone I’m connected to on LinkedIn asked me for a recommendation. He had contacted me originally about a job and was my recruiter from that time until I got the job. I was more than happy to give him a recommendation – I’d had a great experience, the communication was great and best of all, I got the job. One of the easiest things in the world is to be kind. Just think – someone could read that on his profile and contact him for help in finding a job.
It’s good to aim for at least two recommendations for each of your most important past positions. What’s also a good idea is to try and get recommendations from influential people, so that they actually mean something. When you ask for a recommendation, give them talking points such as, “Can you talk about your service with me and what results we achieved together?”
You could even ask a different question for each recommendation so you have a collection of recommendations for all your skills. The most important thing to remember is to be proactive about asking for them.
Why Not Try This?
What’s your most recent job? Connect with two people from your team at the company, reach out and ask them for a recommendation. See what happens.
#4 Get a Customised URL
When you first set your profile up on LinkedIn you’ll get a URL that looks a little bit like this:
That’s a lot of numbers.
Or, you can do what I did and customise it to look something like this:
Personalising this is so easy and makes you more human. Would you rather be seen as a bunch of numbers or by your name? Sometimes, like in my case, your name won't be available. So it's just about picking the option that is best for you.
Why Not Try This?
There are plenty of great tutorials online to help you customise your URL – here’s one I found.
#5 Regularly Update Your Profile
I used to think that I’d only need to update my LinkedIn profile when I got a new job. It’s good to update it then of course. But that’s not the only time you should make changes.
I check my LinkedIn profile for updates and notifications once per day Monday to Friday. But as for updating my profile, I usually do that at least once a month. I add on any new skills I've learnt to my skills set and summary. We’re always learning something new and it’s important for the development of our careers to list these.
As for your photo, the guideline is to change it at least once every two years.
Why Not Try This?
Put a note in your diary to update your LinkedIn profile on the same day of every month. It really does make it easier to remember.
#6 Publish Relevant Industry Related Posts
Did you know you could publish content on LinkedIn? Neither did I until quite recently. On your homepage you’ll see a box that looks like this:
All you do is click on “Publish a post”, upload a photo, and copy and paste your content in the area provided. This is perfect if you run a blog that ties in with your industry. You can post this content directly on LinkedIn to a completely new audience. I’ve only just started trying this out, so I’m definitely going to keep an eye on the effects this has.
Why Not Try This?
Publish one of your blog posts on LinkedIn or link to a piece of content relevant to your industry. Keep doing it and we can share our results.
#7 Add Rich Media Wherever You Can
Remember earlier I said you could add PDF’s and slideshows to your profile? This is what’s called rich media. Rich media helps you to visually showcase your professional story and accomplishments. You can upload images, documents and presentations directly to your profile. It could be an inspirational quote, an infographic related to your industry or a big project you've created in one of your roles. The possibilities are endless. It’s a great way to share more on LinkedIn to add a richer and more visual aspect to your career search.
Why Not Try This?
See what rich media you have to upload to your profile as examples of your work. It'll only give you more credibility.
#8 Join Relevant Groups
Have you heard of Facebook Groups and Google+ communities? LinkedIn groups are exactly like these.
In the search bar at the top of your homepage, you’ll see a button to the left that has a drop down menu. Click on groups and type in a keyword for the types of groups you want to join. I’d search for words such as social media, marketing, content and SEO. It’s useful to use your list of keywords here as they’re perfect for the types of groups you want to join. You won’t be short. There’s plenty for every industry.
#9 Make Connections
All these tips so far have been great. But if we had to pick the one main purpose of LinkedIn it would be this: to make connections. We go on there to connect with others in our industry and build up our network to help us further our career. So we want to make as many connections as possible.
A few pointers though. It’s not like when we were in high school and it was alright to just connect with everyone. LinkedIn is more specialised. It’s going to benefit you in the long run if you connect with as many people in your particular industry (or industries) as possible. I’m on the lookout for people to connect to in two industries – digital marketing and bloggers/creatives/entrepreneurs.
It’s said that you need at least 300 connections in order to create a network that’s going to be useful to you beneficially. But I've got just over 100 connections now and plenty of opportunities have come my way. Best practice is to stay under 3000.
Right at the bottom of your profile page is something called Skills and Endorsements. These are simply effective ways of building your professional brand and engaging your network on LinkedIn. Your connections can endorse you for specific skills. It’s like a recommendation, but just for one skill.
If you look at the image below you’ll see that there’s a list of my top skills with a number next to them. The number is how many people have endorsed me for each skill.
You can also give endorsements to your connections. So if you have a blogger friend who’s just starting out on LinkedIn, you can endorse her for skills like Editing, Content Creation, Time Management, Social Media and so on.
So there we have it! You are now completely and utterly prepped to make your LinkedIn profile the best it can be.
But if you're struggling with some parts, need more information or have any questions, please don't hesitate to get in touch with me by email or social media - you know where I am.
And to help you along your LinkedIn profile journey, here's a very pretty (and useful) checklist to make sure you've done all of the steps! Just print it off and work through it as and when you want to.
Would you like even more information about this topic? I'm writing an eBook to help you with this - sign up below to get notified when it's ready!
Wondering how to be found online?