LinkedIn is a big part of the job search these days. Not only will potential employers check your profile out after you apply, many recruiters will also find you via the site. With that in mind, it’s important to make the best possible use of your account. You could write a book (and someone probably has) about all the ways to do that, but I want to focus on some quick and easy things you can do to improve your LinkedIn profile.
The chances are that you (like most people) have neglected your profile since your last job search, but these tips will allow you to spruce it up in no time.
Hide your updates (a few seconds)
If you’re going to be making a lot of edits to your profile, you probably don’t want to clog up your connections’ feeds. To avoid doing so is easy.
When you are in the editing view of your profile, there is a simple option for this very purpose handily located on the right-hand side. Set it to ‘No’ and you’re all done.
Customise your LinkedIn URL (30 seconds)
If you didn’t know this was possible, don’t worry. Many, many LinkedIn users aren’t taking advantage of this. Changing your profile URL changes it from an unruly string of random numbers and letters into whatever sleek form you choose. Much better for adding to a CV or directing a recruiter to.
You can make this change by going to your LinkedIn profile and clicking on the gear icon underneath your picture. Then, on the right-hand side, you will see your current URL. Click on the pencil icon to edit it. Most people who use the feature choose to simply use their name.
Be sure not to change your URL too many times. If you change it more than 5 times, you will have to wait six months until you are able to change it again. If you’re stuck on something embarrassing, that’s tough.
Write a new headline (5 minutes)
This is another LinkedIn feature that many people aren’t even aware of. By default, your headline matches your current job, e.g. “Frontend Developer at Example Company”, but you can change it to whatever you want.
As your headline appears all over LinkedIn and not just on your profile, it’s a good idea to use it to give a short, snappy overview of what you can do. Take a couple of minutes to think about your main skills or strengths and then make them into your headline.
To change your headline, click on the pencil icon that appears next to your headline (right underneath your name) when you hover over it.
Give a proper insight into your experience (15 minutes)
It’s not enough to fill out the bare bones of titles and companies, you should also fill in some details about each position to give recruiters a better understanding of your experience and skills.
To make this simpler, you can copy-paste from your CV. Remember, it’s best to stick to bullet points so that what you write is easy to scan and digest.
If you don’t have a description, click on ‘Add Description’ under a position. If you do but want to change it, click the pencil icon next to the existing description. You can also use this menu to edit other details of the job.
NOTE: You can’t create bullet points directly in LinkedIn, but you can copy and paste them from here.
Showcase what you can do (15 minutes)
Show, don’t tell. You can add various resources, such as links, videos, presentations or documents, to any of your roles. It’s a great way to showcase the work you’re proudest of.
Do this by clicking on the square-with-plus-sign icon that appears when you hover over any of the jobs on your profile.
Write/edit your summary (15 minutes)
A lot of LinkedIn users don’t have a summary on their profile but it’s perfect way to give someone a brief introduction to you. Use it to give an overview of what you can do and what makes you tick. Think of it as your elevator pitch.
Unlike a cover letter, which you can tailor to individual roles, your summary must be one-size-fits-all. Look at the different jobs you are applying to and figure out what they have in common. Then make sure to include those things in your summary.
Unless you’ve rearranged things, your summary section appears at the top of your profile (below your posts, if you’ve written any). When you hover over the summary section, you can click on either the text itself or the pencil icon to write or edit your summary.
You can also add documents, images, presentations and more to your summary. This functions in the same way as with your various job listings (as mentioned above).
Rearrange skills/endorsements (5 minutes)
You can include up to 50 skills in your ‘Skills & Endorsements’ section. Take some time to consider which ones to include. You can also choose to rearrange them, highlighting the most important or relevant at the top.
Your connections are able to endorse you for your skills, and each one displays the number of endorsements you have received. This gives social proof (a powerful thing) to your skills. Moving the skills you want to be known for also increases the chance of them receiving endorsements.
To manage your skills, click on the ‘Add skill’ button at the top of the section or on the pencil icon next to an individual skill (these icons appear when you scroll over the relevant section).
Get recommendations (5 minutes)
To add further social proof to your profile, you can get recommendations on each of your different roles. These can be from managers, peers or clients but all have a positive effect. It’s one thing for you to say that you’re great at your job but quite another when someone else backs you up.
You can ask any of your LinkedIn connections to provide a recommendation, but you should stick to those who are relevant.
At the top of your profile, there is a blue button which says ‘View profile as’ (on a side note, this allows you to see exactly what your profile will look like to your connections). Next to it, there is a small downwards-pointing arrow. Hovering over it displays a menu, and one of the options is ‘Ask to be recommended’. Click on that and you are away.
First, choose which job you want to be recommended for. Then you can search through your connections for the person you want to ask. Once you have chosen someone, you need to select how you were connected during your time at that job, e.g. “You reported directly to X”, and then what their role was (from their past and present positions).
Finally, write a small note (LinkedIn prepopulates this with a template message but it is better to write something personal), and hit send.
When a connection writes a recommendation for you, it appears directly below the job listing it relates to. Don’t worry, you are able to read and approve the recommendation before it appears publicly.
Total time: An hour, if that.
In very little time you should have dramatically improved your LinkedIn profile and made it recruiter-ready.