What makes a winning LinkedIn profile?

No matter what stage of the job-search process you’re in, you’ll always need a LinkedIn profile that stands out.

With more than 600 million users worldwide, LinkedIn is easily the largest professional network on the planet. If you’re serious about your career and professional advancement, you need a LinkedIn profile that’s optimized and up to date.

Your LinkedIn profile is your chance to get your name and face in front of hundreds (or even thousands) of professionals in your industry. If you’re looking for a job, that’s essential.

However, it’s not enough to just have a LinkedIn page. You need a great LinkedIn profile that draws attention, says the right things, and helps you really connect with the people who can help you expand your career. Here are 10 simple tips to help make your LinkedIn profile stand out:

Add your headshot

The simplest thing you can do is to put a face to your name and add a LinkedIn profile picture and a good one at that. Be creative if that fits with what you do or who you are, but remember that this is the first impression people will get from your page.

If you don’t have a professional headshot to use, it’s worth the investment. With the huge numbers of people on LinkedIn, those without a photo are easily pushed aside.

Create an eye-catching headline

Your headline is positioned right below your name on your LinkedIn profile and will be the first thing profile visitors read. The default settings will fill this in with your current position and that’s okay for starters, but it can be whatever you want. You have 120 characters to work with, so why not write something that pops? Think of it as a small billboard advertisement for you and what you do.

Instead of just listing your job title, mention your specialty and how you benefit your company or customers. Don’t forget to keep your target audience in mind. Are you speaking to industry peers, customers, or headhunters? Write for your target audience. For example:

Marketing specialist helping clients create winning marketing strategies including SEO. Too over 300 successful clients.

Just like that you’ve told them your job, and what you bring to the table, and provided a little credibility easily and effectively.

Craft an interesting summary

Your LinkedIn summary gives you the opportunity to tell your story. Your summary can be a longer form of your headline; here you have 2,000 characters to work with so you can dive in a little deeper. Don’t just focus on your experience but on what you do well and what you can bring to a prospective employer. Keep in mind that keywords are crucial here — use words that you want to be strongly connected to in your field.

Attention spans are short these days, so don’t use up all of those 2,000 characters. Instead, keep it to less than half of that. Be creative and paint a picture of who you really are as a professional.

Highlight your experience

You can do better than simply cutting and pasting your resume onto your LinkedIn profile. You don’t have the same two-page rule here, but you do have internet readers with short attention spans. Be sure to include any jobs that you deem relevant to where you want your career to go, and use two to four interesting and impressive bullet points for each job you include.

Also, use good action words to show not just what you did, but what you accomplished in each position. The key is to demonstrate the impact you’ve made, the change you’ve enacted, the initiatives you’ve led, and the results you’ve delivered.

Use visual media

Did you know that you can add a background photo/cover photo on LinkedIn just like on Twitter and Facebook? It’s simple to do and it makes your LinkedIn profile stand out, so pick a theme that speaks to your profession or personality.

LinkedIn also allows you to connect other media to your profile like YouTube videos, and infographics. Get creative with relevant media and make your page jump off the screen and demand attention.

Customize your URL

Your LinkedIn URL is the web address for your profile. The default URL will have your name and some gibberish numbers on it. Why not make it something more relevant? Along the right side of your profile, you will see the option to edit your public LinkedIn URL. Use that option to make your URL more concise and neater again, it only takes a couple of minutes and it can make your URL much more memorable.

Start making connections

It seems obvious, but it can be easy to forget sometimes. You need to keep growing your connections as you meet people because of LinkedIn’s system of first, second, and third-degree connections; having a lot of connections helps keep you visible to others.

That being said, while you can connect with people you don’t know, it’s preferable to connect with individuals whom you know personally, have worked with, or met in a professional capacity. If you do decide to connect with individuals you haven’t met, or don’t have a direct connection to, send a note with your request explaining who you are why you’d like to connect.

Ask for recommendations

This is a big one. Think of people whom you’ve developed a good working relationship with in the past. When you edit your profile, there is a link to click that says Ask for Recommendations. Click on it. You choose what you’d like to be recommended for and can choose a list of people from your connections. Then, send it out, and hope you get some great feedback.

Keep your page active

LinkedIn is more than an online resume — it’s a networking social media site. That means to get the most out of it, you need to remain active. Check out what other people are posting, engage them with thoughtful comments, and like and share posts that strike you as helpful.

You can also join groups that are on LinkedIn. Whatever your professional interests are, from marketing to accounting, there are going to be groups talking about it. Join one or two and interact within that group. It’s a great way to meet some new people and share ideas.

Check your LinkedIn profile strength

If you look at your current profile, there is a gauge on the right-hand side that gives you a “Profile Strength” measurement. Essentially, this is telling you how completely you’ve filled out your profile. Keep adding more and using the site’s tips until that gauge rates you “All-Star.” It’s simple, but it can help you see if you’ve overlooked something.

LinkedIn is a powerful tool and one that’s really easy to use and take advantage of. Make the most of it by optimizing your profile to stand out in a sea of candidates, sell your skills, and validate your accomplishments. You want your page to be visually appealing to visitors while making it easy for them to get a feel for who you are and what you really can do for them professionally. These 10 tips make a great start for building your winning LinkedIn profile.

Next Week on RecSmarts

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