LinkedIn Best Practices – Enhancing your Profile for a Job Search

On November 3, 2008 a group of about 35 people descended on a conference room at iContact in Durham, NC to learn more about how to enhance their profile for a job search. These 35 people are members of Linking Raleigh, NC, a networking group on LinkedIn with a very high concentration of Triangle professionals with profiles on LinkedIn.com. I, Greg Hyer, brought them together to discuss and share with them a number of best practices that should be considered when gearing up a profile for a job search.

Enhancing Your Profile To Be Found

Why should you enhance your profile? There are two reasons why. One is to increase your chances of being found. Whether you are in a job search or you are an entrepreneur you need to have a well written profile that can be found when someone searches for someone like you for a need they have. The second reason is that you want to communicate information about you accurately.  This is a chance you for you to brand yourself an expert in your field or industry. That can and needs to be communicated in your profile. That these two things in to consideration when enhancing your profile and you can increase your chances of being found on LinkedIn.

How to Enhance Your Profile

When working on your profile and trying to determine what information to share think about what friends would find you. What keywords would they type in to find you? Then think about how recruiters or hiring managers would find you. Did you include your certifications you have earned as a professional? Think about what someone’s first impression would be if they looked at your profile for the first time and they had not scrolled down your profile yet. Did you make an impact in your summary section?

When thinking about this take a couple things into consideration. When people look at your profile they are going to look for things in common. Did you go to a school they went to? Did you work at an employer that they may have worked at in the past? So you share a PMP certification with them. Secondly, your profile is similar to a resume. Your achievements and responsibilities should be shared as well. If there is nothing in common with who is viewing your profile your hope should be that they contact you based on their desire to learn more about you.

Google indexes LinkedIn. Using search engine optimization (SEO) methods in your profile will help your chances of being found when someone does a search on Google. Use school names, company names, technical skills and other professional achievements that can increase the visibility of your profile to attract that next opportunity.

So not leave a section under an employer empty. If someone is looking at your profile they want to learn about you. If you have no information to provide them then why are you using LinkedIn? Work out each section you can edit to provide relevant and accurate information about you as a professional.

One of the easiest things you can do to make it easier to find you is using a vanity URL to access your public profile rather than the standard one no one can repeat back or remember that LinkedIn gives your profile by default. CHANGE THIS NOW!! Go to your Profile and under the section where you can list your websites is your URL section. Click on the edit button and change it to something you can use on a business card or email signature. For example, mine is http://www.linkedin.com/in/greghyer.

Go to your profile’s summary section of your profile and give your elevator pitch. Explain why you are the best at what you do. When writing this you should try to capture the reader’s attention in the first line and last line of each paragraph. Make sure you check your grammar. There is no better way to be looked past if you have grammar issues in your profile.

If you think it is appropriate to do so upload a professional photo to your profile. Do not upload a photo of you being clung to by seven girls or put a picture of you in a bikini. You do not need to go to a professional photographer to get the picture done either. A quick and easy solution would be to get someone to a picture of you with your digital camera (avoid low resolutions cell phone cameras) while you are dressed well for work. Try to do a shoulders to head shot. Since you cannot see a larger picture on your profile this gives people a general idea of how you look and goes towards the first impression that a person will form about you.

Make your public profile as visible as possible. Your public profile can be accessed by going to your account settings under Public Profile. In this screen you can select what you want to be visible to those who visit your profile using your profile’s URL and by those who are outside your network.

In the contact setting at the bottom of your profile you can provide as much information about how to contact you as you would like. This is a free text area that you can share your email address, phone number or even make a statement about what kind of connections you are interested in making on LinkedIn. Keep in mind that if you share your email address it will make it easier for recruiters to reach you. Some recruiters and hiring managers prefer to contact you via email rather then through LinkedIn.

To Summarize

If you take these suggestions and apply them to your profile you will improve your chances of being found. To summarize what was discussed please review below.

  • Use Keywords about your profession or skills
  • Think about how friends, recruiters, hiring managers or your next business partner would look for you
  • Put all schools, companies and technical skills in your profile because Google indexes LinkedIn.
  • Fill in all the information under each employer with achievements and other relevant information
  • Change your public URL to a vanity URL and use it on business cards and email signatures
  • Put your elevator pitch in the summary section of your profile
  • Check your grammar and spelling. (Either use Firefox’s spell checker or copy and paste into Word)
  • Upload a professional photo to your profile
  • Make as much of your profile available for public view.
  • Share as much contact information as you feel necessary in the Contact Settings section at the bottom of your profile.

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