The Top 8 Tips On How To Be A LinkedIn Master
by Aliza Licht
For those of you who absolutely hate social media, I have some news for you. If you are a professional person or want to be, having a profile on LinkedIn is not an option; it's essential. Launched in 2002, LinkedIn has come a long way as a professional social network. I would say that it's exhibit B right after your resume, but these days, it's actually the first thing a potential employer or business contact sees. As you well know, you only get one chance to make a first impression, so having a robust and updated profile is the key to getting noticed and the first step to finding your next opportunity or business connection.
Would you leave off critical elements on your resume? I think not. So don't skimp on your LinkedIn profile either. So where do you start? First of all, the most highly searched and informative parts of your profile are:
- Profile photo
- Current position (or education, if just entering the workforce)
According to LinkedIn Career Expert Blair Decembrele, here are the most common mistakes on LinkedIn profiles and how you can overcome them:
- Not showcasing what you’re “in it” for: Your profile is an online reflection of who you are and what you’re “in it” for, so you’ll want to do some introspection before writing your summary. This is one of the top things a recruiter looks at when viewing your LinkedIn profile. Think of your summary as your elevator pitch -- how would you spark a potential employer’s or contact’s interest in 40 words? Include your experience, skills and interests, as well as your passions, motivations, goals and what makes you unique as a professional. Make sure your online persona represents your most authentic self. Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through!
- Using a photo that doesn’t represent your professional identity: A strong LinkedIn photo makes all the difference. In fact, in a recent LinkedIn survey, nearly one-fifth of hiring managers say they have eliminated a candidate from consideration because of inappropriate photos online. And, profiles with photos receive up to 21x more profile views, 9x more connection requests and up to 36x more messages. Ensure your photo is clear and professional by using a simple background, cropping it so your face fills up at least 60% of the frame, and using filters to enhance brightness, contrast or saturation.
- Not referencing your education or current position: Including your education, industry and current position help recruiters and alumni easily find you. Adding your education leads to up to 17x more messages from recruiters, so be sure to fill in your degree type, fields of study (if applicable), and the years you attended school. Additionally, be sure to add certifications and past job descriptions to give your audience more insight into your skills and experience -- members with current positions are discovered up to 16x more in recruiter searches and profile views shoot up 29x.
- Skimping on skills: Almost 90% of professionals feel that skills are even more important than job titles, so use your profile to showcase what you’ve learned in your career. Including five or more skills can help you get up to 17x more profile views and 31x more messages from recruiters and others who can help you get ahead. If you don’t have any formal work experience, feature skills you learned through your studies or volunteer experience. Soft skills are just as, if not more important, than hard skills when applying for jobs, and many employers now tout skills over certificates -- in fact, there are tons of jobs now available on LinkedIn that don't require four-year degrees.
- Take a look at desirable job descriptions for your field -- if you have the skills for these positions, add them to your profile -- and keep buzzwords like specialized, passionate and expert out of your summary.
- If you’re feeling rusty or want to beef up your skills, LinkedIn Learning has 12,000 courses to help you upskill as you prepare your next move.
- Not sharing your location: Members with a location listed receive up to 19x more profile views, and 28x more likely to receive a message to start a conversation. Including the city where you are based makes you up to 23x more likely to be found by other members in your geographic area. More than 30% of recruiters rely on location information to find candidates, so the more details you have, the more likely you will be found and connected to your next opportunity.
- Not participating in the conversation: Engaging with the content on LinkedIn is a great way to build your professional community, and keep you top of mind in your network. 'Like' and 'comment' on timely articles relevant to your profession, share short-form posts on news of the day (include rich media to get more comments and more likes), or record a video -- the fastest-growing type of content on LinkedIn, and the most likely to start conversations. Use a #hashtag to continue the conversation with your network. The more you can tap into existing conversations -- whether around the office or in your industry -- the more likely your article, post or video will be successful. And share your personal stories and experiences in a genuine way that inspires others. Spending time becoming part of the conversation will help you develop meaningful relationships with your professional community, and can help you get a job down the road as more than 70% of professionals get hired at a company where they have a professional connection.
- Not raising your hand to recruiters: The Open Candidates feature on LinkedIn is the best way to privately signal to recruiters that you are open to new opportunities, and makes you 2x as likely to receive relevant opportunities. You can specify the types of companies and roles you are most interested in and be easily found by the hundreds of thousands of recruiters who use LinkedIn to find great professional talent. Just turn on the Open Candidates feature in the Career Interests section within your dashboard (they never display that you’re an Open Candidate on your public profile).
- Not customizing your feed: Your feed is a place for you to discover and join the conversations that are happening -- and job opportunities as they arise -- among your connections, within your groups, and ignited by the things you follow. Make sure to customize your feed by following the hashtags, people and organizations that you care about, so you always see those updates in your feed. You can see recommendations of people, groups, companies and hashtags to follow in your My Network tab.
- For even more tips, check out LinkedIn's content creator guide.
Originally published April 24, 2019 by Aliza Licht on Forbes.com.