LinkedIn is one of the world’s biggest professional social networking sites, used by job seekers, employers and recruitment consultants alike.
Forbes once described the site as the definitive network for professional marking and lead generation.
It is quite clear that in today’s employment market, if you want to find and get the best roles, you need to maximise your online presence.
But, despite the fact that LinkedIn was attracting at least two million new users every fortnight back in 2009, how many of those people produced a profile that amounted to more than a few lines of sketchy information?
We’ve all found our way to profiles which amount to little or nothing; doesn’t really impress, does it?
Although it may seem to be something of a chore to roll out the history of your education and jobs held some time ago, every little detail may be crucial to making that vital connection which leads to something special.
So, what tips can we give ensure that your LinkedIn profile stands out from the crowd, helps build your professional network and helps you nail that dream job?
Make an Impact
Any search of your name or profession will focus on your headline and summary, and it should be no surprise that these are most crucial sections of your LinkedIn profile.
The headline must balance an accurate representation of your role and professional identity with a sense of engagement, drawing the viewer in to read further. This is easier said than done, and the degree to which you chose to side one way or the other depends very much on the type of industry you work in and how recognisable your role is.
Getting this element right will help lead the right viewer to your profile in the first place.
The summary is, simply put, a short description of why you do what you do.
The best summaries are less than 250 words, and end with a dynamic statement of intent which shows what you still aim to achieve.
It is important that the summary is distinct, reflecting your personality and those accomplishments which mean most to you; these should also be what you don’t want a prospective employer or professional connection to be unaware of.
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The Professional Journey
It is no longer enough to let experience speak for itself.
All too often, profilers do little, if anything, more than list job titles together with dates and omit any commentary. Each job that you’ve done needs a little description to highlight your achievements and skills.
Most halfway-decent profiles do this to an extent, but the best connect them into a developmental continuum which shows how successive experiences have furthered your work-style and led you to take the promotions and opportunities that have come your way.
This should connect to your summary and in particular, your statement of intent to show the reader where you have come from and thus why your future aims are shaped so.
One of the great things about the LinkedIn profile is you have space to include a broader range of material which would be far too much for any resume/CV. Voluntary experience or a short success story can really make somebody take the time to learn that they want to get to know you better.
Brevity and Tone
On average, a page view on any website commands less than ten seconds before the browser does exactly that and moves on. You don’t have long to grab the attention of a potentially meaningful connection.
It is important to be creative with your language, but also succinct and direct.
One of LinkedIn’s real strengths is the range of fields you can fill, but be warned, an overcrowded profile loses the sense of flow you are trying to create, so keep an eye on both the word count and the main themes. Your profile must be well-organised and easy to follow, and a few judicious bullet points here and there are no bad thing.
As well as brevity, you need to consider the tone you write in.
One of the most common mistakes made on profiles are using the third person, which is odd as everybody knows they are written personally. Unless the formality of your industry demands it, you should avoid this on LinkedIn.
Write in the first person using a professional but approachable tone. Be authentic and inject some of your personality in to the language you use.
Do the following sound familiar: ‘creative’, ‘driven’, ‘responsible’, ‘motivated’ or ‘passionate’?
All the aforementioned are amongst the overused buzzwords used on LinkedIn. Also, are these not the characteristics we would expect in any employee of any experience and seniority?
If you want to avoid looking and sounding hackneyed, try and avoid the obvious and tired jargon we have all read far too many times. Your profile will be both more readable and create a better connection with the viewer if you have the courage to speak in your own voice.
Connect, then Network
Your profile, no matter how good, is useless if nobody reads it!
There are two schools of thought on number of connections: some keep their networks small but tight, connected to those they know and trust, whilst others brag about their number of connections as an indicator of the value of their profile.
We would suggest a middle-way – a wide circle of professional connections and contacts, both from current and previous clients and colleagues, connections made in person at conferences and meetings and those whose profiles spark your interest.
If you are wading through reams of useless information, it’s likely you’ve connected to the wrong people. Furthermore, try to follow groups and companies relevant to your role (or desired one) which has the dual benefit of keeping you up to date with the latest news and also shows your interests clearly.
Once you’ve built up a strong network, the key idea is to share what you are doing and thinking.
It’s very useful to post status updates in order to demonstrate that you know your stuff and can be relied upon to be up to date with developments. Posting articles or links to your own blog posts or tweets will boost interest and views.
Furthermore, sharing how you solved an issue or problem common to your industry will certainly generate commentary, develop further meaningful professional connections and show you to be both collaboratively minded and an expert in your field.
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Recommendations and Endorsements
Nothing speaks louder than the words of your colleagues when describing why they value working with you.
This digital word of mouth is extremely powerful, and you should ask previous employers, clients and other connections to provide endorsements and recommendations focusing on particular skills.
When asking for a recommendation, don’t stick with the standard LinkedIn greeting but ask in person or write a personal statement to express why their recommendation would mean a great deal to you.
It is important to show a range of relationships here, so try and include your managers as well as those you manage in addition to peers and members of your teams.
The way to build up recommendations is to give as well as receive. You will help your peers and establish yourself as something of a leader. A well written recommendation may well draw viewers to your profile.
How to write a LinkedIn profile: Summary
So, with these tips, you should now know how to write a LinkedIn summary that will get you noticed, and help you in your job search.
Please feel free to connect with us on LinkedIn here: Job Search Bible