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Your LinkedIn Profile: The Essentials

Congratulations, you’ve signed up for LinkedIn. You’ve taken the next step to launching or furthering your career. So, now what?

LinkedIn is the premier professional social network for individuals in professional positions. It consists of executives, job seekers, recruiters, businesses and more. It is possible to become successful on the social network, but only if your profile is properly completed. For those looking to expand their professional network or land their dream job, having an incomplete LinkedIn profile does not put forth a very professional image. In order to benefit from LinkedIn’s services, your profile needs to be top notch. Make sure your profile has all the right components for success.

Professional Picture.

On LinkedIn, it is highly inappropriate to have a less than flattering “selfie” as your profile picture. Your picture should portray you, and your career, in a positive and professional manner. If your profile picture on LinkedIn contains any of the following items, change it immediately:

  • Your cellphone
  • A mirror
  • Casual Attire
  • A less than flattering facial expression
  • Terrible lighting
  • You from the last decade

What’s worse than a terrible profile picture? Having no picture at all. A lack of a profile picture can be fairly detrimental to your LinkedIn profile success and overall online reputation.

Let’s say that you are on the hunt for a new and exciting job at a well-known company. Your prospective company receives your resume, is impressed, and searches for your profile on LinkedIn. If the recruiter sees an incomplete profile without a picture, your resume is going straight to the “No” pile. Not having a professional profile picture is similar to walking into an interview with a bag over your head.

Concise Summary

One of the first sections you will be asked to complete on your LinkedIn profile is the summary section. This section is just that, a summary. I’ve seen LinkedIn summaries that are a mere sentence, and others that could count as a novel. Your summary should be concise, professional, and actively portray your qualifications, personality, and goals. A paragraph or a few formatted sentences is enough to get your point across without leaving your audience wanting more or losing their attention.

Skills

Throughout your LinkedIn profile, you need to identify your professional skills. Whether in your personal title, summary, job descriptions, or endorsements. These skills also serve as keywords and will help your profile be found in a search, assist job recruiters in their decision, and project a positive image about you. Remember, these skills must be relevant to your experience, desired employment position, and personal characteristics. If you’re looking for a position in the accounting field, yet your profile discusses your biology experience, you may want to reformat your profile.

In addition, do not lie on your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn will suggest skills and profile adjustments based on your industry and listed experience, but their suggestions may not always be reflective of what you have truly accomplished. As you know, honesty is key in business and in the job search process.

Up-to-date contact information

Whether you are using LinkedIn to search for employment opportunities, possibly growing your professional network, or using the website as a way to search for leads, your profile needs to list your up-to-date and reliable contact information. Be sure to list the best way for individuals to contact you. If you rarely answer your email, but are attached at the hip to your smart phone, then list your phone number.

A Customized URL

One unique feature of LinkedIn is the ability to customize your own individual URL. This enhances your personal branding efforts and makes it easier for people in your network to find you. I recommend changing it to your name or a recognizable variation of your name. If you have a common name, like I do, your name may be already used for another individual’s profile URL. For example, I added the number ‘1’ to the end of my URL in order to differentiate myself from the other professional.

Detailed Job Descriptions

Your LinkedIn profile is an online version of your resume, and therefore each of your listed jobs should have proper descriptions. Many professionals have quite ambiguous job titles, and job description serve to inform your network or recruiters about exactly what you accomplished in this specific role. Use the job description area on LinkedIn to accurately and succinctly describe your responsibilities, achievements, and projects for each past and present employment position.

A Professional Title

On LinkedIn, you have the option of tailor your professional title to display your current employment position, a generic description of your professional career and experience, or whatever you desire. For example, throughout my personal career, I have had several different LinkedIn titles depending on where I was in my education and career. Take a look:

  • Marketing and Advertising student at Western New England University.
  • Marketing Intern
  • Freelance copywriter with digital and social media experience
  • Content Manager | SEO at Titan Web Marketing Solutions

Proofread

Now that your profile is complete, it’s time to fully proofread your LinkedIn profile. Having a friend or colleague scan your profile for mistakes or spelling errors is a great way to ensure that your LinkedIn profile is complete and professional.

With your complete LinkedIn profile, you’re ready to take the professional world by storm. The next step? Join groups related to your career and interests, and be active on the social network. Good luck!


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