Before you begin the active phase of your job search, you’ll need to make sure that your online image is equally powerful, positive, and aligned with your current career goals.
Here are my top tips for developing an all-star profile that gets attention!
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Your headline weighs heavily in LinkedIn’s algorithm. A good headline will be keyword rich and incorporate target role/s (what you are), your industry (who you help) and what you specialise in (your top skills).
The recruiter version of LinkedIn (a powerful tool with expanded search capabilities, used by thousands of search firms) presents an abbreviated snapshot of the profile when a match is found. The headline and first few lines of your About section are part of that, so you want it to be as relevant and compelling as possible.
Don’t leave your headline as your current position and company (LinkedIn does this by default); use specific target roles and areas of expertise that prospective employers will search.
General Manager ► National Operations Management | Business Planning | Organisational Leadership | Performance Optimisation
Or you could combine your title and skills into a strong value-add statement
Senior Management Executive with Expertise in Developing Global Sales & Marketing Operations.
Hot tip! Spaces: If you use a pipe (|), slash (/), or bullet (●) between words or phrases, be sure to leave a space between the character and the word so that each word remains searchable.
Along with your name and headline, your photo is the first place people look at when interacting with you on LinkedIn. It establishes your professionalism and affects the likelihood of connecting and reading your profile.
Your photo should be a headshot, full face (so that your face takes up most of the space in the frame), with a pleasant and professional expression. (Smile!) It does not have to be a professionally taken, formal headshot, but do make sure it’s clear, has good lighting, and does not have any distracting details or backgrounds
For extra POW, adding a custom background banner photo that reflects you in your professional expertise can really help you stand out in a sea of search results. (Canva is a great easy-to-use tool!)
An often forgotten and easy update; Recruiters will filter searches by location, so specify the geographic area you’re looking within.
Your LinkedIn is more personable and conversational than your resume and gives you an opportunity to introduce yourself, talk about who you are, how you came to where you are today plus anything that makes you interesting. It should align with your current professional goals and be future focused to help your audience understand how you can add value to them.
Here are a few guidelines for writing the About section:
- Write in first person using “I.”
- Use short paragraphs so the page has ample white space—essential for online reading.
- Strike a conversational tone and avoid “resume language” and resume structure, for the most part. (include bullet points, use subheadings to organise and differentiate content, and briefly list standout achievements.)
- Use storytelling for a personal tone, to spark interest, and to share different content than what’s in your resume.
When you’ve drafted it, ask yourself these questions:
- Have I clearly conveyed my professional expertise?
- Have I mentioned my most notable and relevant career achievements?
- Do stories reveal traits that are intrinsic to my professional success?
- Does it relate my talents to the challenges and environment that I’m seeking in my next job?
- Does it show how I solve problems that are relevant to my target audience
- Have I incorporated keywords important to my career goals?
- Does it finish with a call to action that invites readers to reach out?
Your position title is heavily weighted in LinkedIn’s SEO, so be sure to use traditional/widely used titles so that recruiters can find you, and even include key focus areas/deliverables after the title to support SEO.
CEO | Sales Executive – Aftermarket and OEM | Business Development | Operations Optimisation | Board Leadership
This section doesn’t need to exactly replicate your resume, but it should reflect it. Provide a brief scope of each role to provide context and then list 4-5 bullet points conveying highlights and achievements. (Remember to remove any confidential information)
Something I’m commonly asked is “What do I do if I’m between roles?”
Those with a current position on LinkedIn will rank higher in search results, so creating a dummy current position is a popular approach where with the title is listed as your job goal and the company is labelled something like ‘Currently Seeking New Opportunities’.
You can then populate the description area with information about what you bring to the role, again, ‘peppering’ common industry-specific keywords and phrases in the position to increase search ranking for particular skills and industry experience.
Engineering Sales Manager, Seeking New Opportunities.
Currently looking for opportunities to drive sales performance with an organisation that can benefit from my expertise in x, y, and z. With strong technical background in engineering and 15 years leading sales teams for organisations in the manufacturing sector I have expertise in:
• Creating sales plans that deliver performance outcomes aligned with targets
• Identifying area of business opportunity and transitioning prospects into long-term accounts
• Building team capability and confidence to gain market share
Skills & Endorsements
When developing your profile, it is important to identify the right keywords. These are the words people will be using to find you. Recruiters are likely to search for specific skills or keywords. Make sure your top skills, technical expertise, technologies, systems, tools, methodologies etc are included in your About, Experience and Skills & Endorsements sections.
A good starting point for researching ideas here is reviewing multiple vacancies of jobs of interest to see what the common keywords, phrases and criteria are being used. You can also check out profiles of people doing the types of roles you aspire to for some inspiration.
Be smart about adding skills because a specific and unique skill, when searched for, can bring your profile to the top of the search. For example, “AutoCAD” is a specialised technology for design and technical documentation. If you list “design tools” or “technical documentation” in skills and the searcher (recruiter) is searching for “CAD” or “AutoCAD” skills, your profile won’t be found in the search results for that particular entry.
I recommend that you visit your page every 6 months to view your top three skills and rearrange them if needed so that they represent what you consider to be the most relevant to your career objectives.
Don’t skip out on recommendations. Recommendations are powerful because they are the social proof that you do what you say you can, a third-party validation of your skills and professionalism.
An easy place to start is to message some close professional connections –
‘I’m working on more proactively managing my online brand and would greatly appreciate if you could spare a few minutes to provide me a LinkedIn recommendation of our work together at ABC and what we achieved on XYZ project. I am more than happy to write one for you in return”
The benefit you will gain from LinkedIn will be completely dependent on how you use it. If you are active and use it as a professional relationship management and branding tool it can be invaluable.
Maintain an active profile by reading news feeds, sharing content, and commenting with industry insights – it shows a level of professional engagement. Look for relevant industry groups and companies that may be helpful for your job search and transition.
Remember, what you share, like and comment on reflects on your brand.
LinkedIn can be so helpful during career transition to build your network, grow your visibility and credibility, attract recruiters and source job opportunities.
Hot tip! You should not upload your resume as part of your profile. You want to shift the conversation online for a deeper and more personal connection. You can provide your resume—customised if need be—based on the contact/opportunity.
I know that the process can feel overwhelming. If you need any help improving your profile and utilising it to attract more opportunities, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org
By Bec O’Connor