In the past decade, there has been an increase in employers who use social media as a way to vet potential new hires. It is important to have a professional presence on social media, starting with the popular networking site LinkedIn.
This guide will help you build or enhance your LinkedIn profile by helping you gather the right information.
Open a document on your computer and list the following information so that you can quickly cut and paste what you have written into LinkedIn. Remember to turn off your activity feed before you make edits. That way, everyone on your network will not be notified of every small change you make. After you are done, you can change your activity feed so your connections will be alerted to your new or updated profile.
Below are the six key areas of LinkedIn that you should focus on.
Area #1: Professional Title and Contact Information
This is the basic information that makes it easy for others to find you. The goal here is short and simple. In addition to what you write in the fields, do not forget to upload a professional looking headshot. This should be a good quality photo of you and you alone (not part of a group shot that you cropped down.) Profiles with photos are seven times more likely to be accessed, so pick a picture that is representative of the professional you.
Use the name that you are known by so that people can easily search for you.
Example: Joe vs. Joseph or Kate vs. Katerina
Describe the title as well as what you do. Keep in mind that this is just a headline. You will get to describe it in greater detail later. It is okay to say you are a student.
Example: Business Student, University of ABC or Human Resource Intern, ABC Company, Spain
List the city and state (or province and country) of your permanent residence.
Public Profile URL:
Edit your link to create your public URL. It is best to keep it simple and use your first and last name - erase the numbers and symbols that follow it. If your name is already taken, consider using an initial or middle name to make it unique.
Example: CatherineMWilliams or MatthewPrestonMiller
Area #2: Summary Information
The summary is a really important part of your LinkedIn page since it gives potential employers a glimpse of who you are. The summary should have three parts: a bio, common misspellings of your name, and specialty keywords that reflect your greatest expertise so people can find you when seeking your skills.
Your bio is a way for people to get to know the authentic you and not just a list of things you have done. Use this space to highlight who you are, what you do, and what makes you unique. In addition to education, training, skills or areas of expertise, highlight what you contribute as a team member and what you a like as a co-worker and employee.
Much like an elevator pitch, it should answer the questions:
- What do you do?
- For whom?
- How do you do it in a way that is different from others?
- Why do you do it? What motivates you? What do you love about what you do and its impact on others?
- How do you benefit to others through what you do?
Refer to CareerAdvisor's job search toolkit for additional guidance and examples to help you write your bio.
When drafting your summary, keep in mind there’s a 2000 character limit for the summary, aka, and specialties.
AKA/ Common Misspellings:
LinkedIn looks for exact names and will search the entire page for information. To make sure you are easily found, list all names that people might use to search for you. This can include nicknames, a maiden name, and ways which people may misspell your name when searching for you. If this situation applies to you, add this at the end of your summary.
Example: Mari Smith is the name on LinkedIn
- AKA: Marion Smith, Marion Burkle-Smith
- Common Misspellings: Mary Smith, Marian Smith, Marian Burkel Smith, Marian Berkel Smith
List the keywords that represent the primary skills, attributes, and activities from your summary. This will make your profile more keyword rich, which increases your chances of being found when your skills and experience are searched. Add this at the end of your summary, after AKA.
Examples: Cost and feasibility studies, project management, fluent in Spanish, grant writing, Java certified, forensic accounting investigations
Area #3: Work Experience and Education
Like a resume, these are two important factual areas of your background. Be complete and succinct when providing information. Remember, your goal is to be easy to find so avoid using company jargon when drafting these areas of your profile.
This area should include temporary jobs, internships, and ongoing volunteer work. For each, make sure to list your title, the organization you worked for, and the dates you were there. Include key responsibilities and accomplishments – especially those that compliment what you are doing now. Refer to CareerAdvisor's job search toolkit for additional guidance and examples to help you write your resume.
In this area, list information from your graduate school, undergraduate college or university, and any technical schools or certification programs in your field. Start with the most recent school you attended and work your way back. You could include high school if there is something extraordinary that you want to highlight.
Area #4: Recommendations and Endorsements
Recommendations can help boost your credibility because it is a public validation of someone’s positive experience working with you. Think of past or present clients and colleagues who may be willing to post a recommendation on your profile. Go for quality over quantity, so consider those individuals whose opinions might carry some weight and relevance for your career path.
List some ideas of recommenders in your document so you can remember to contact them later.
Skills and expertise endorsements are another valuable tool that require only a “click”. In LinkedIn, you can list or select from a drop down menu the technical and business skills that are critical to your work. From there, your connections can endorse you for those skills. This is a quick and easy way for others to confirm and validate your skills. When setting up your skills and expertise, hone in on what is most valuable and relevant to the position you have or are seeking. Think about quality over quantity and focus on the signature skills you want others to know about.
List some skills that you would like to highlight on your profile.
Area #5: Additional Info
There are a lot of other areas in LinkedIn that you can complete in order to round out your profile. Below are some data points that you might want to consider.
Include a link to your organization’s home page if you are employed. If you have your own business-oriented site, you can link to that as well. You can link to up to three websites, so think about what would be most helpful to others who might be interested in what you have to offer.
If you have published an article or written a paper on a professional topic of interest, you can create direct links and provide a short introduction to the publication on your LinkedIn profile. You can share it through posting a link or consider attaching it to your summary or job experience sections.
You have the option of including some other interesting information about yourself. Adding personal interests is a good way to share who you are and give others an idea of what you are passionate about. This can help pave the way to build personal connections, so include your hobbies, passions, community interests, and other interests in this part of your profile. Be authentic in what you list, and make sure what you put down is something that you are proud of and would be prepared to talk about.
There is a spot in LinkedIn to include all sorts of things – like your birthday, marital status, etc. It is up to you how much information you share. One data point to consider including is “how to contact,” which is where you can include your email or business phone number. If you include a phone number, make sure the voice mail greeting is professional since this might be the first impression someone has of you.
Here is where you can list organizations that you belong to and roles that you have played. This can include clubs, charitable organizations, and industry associations.
Examples: Fund drive chair for ABC Foundation, City Animal Shelter volunteer, dorm President, National Merit Scholarship
This section allows you to select and follow important professionals who you admire and who are connected to companies that interest you. Using this feature creates a customized news feed of the latest articles and ideas posted to LinkedIn by the people you select. Keep in mind that your connections will see who you follow, so select wisely because your choices reflect on your interests.
You can also follow companies by searching the LinkedIn company pages. This will allow you to keep posted on the latest news from a prospective employer.
Join groups that are of interest to you and that pertain to your industry and can keep you abreast of changes in business/regulations/industry leaders. Also join groups that are frequented by your prospective employers so you can make connections and contribute to the discussion. To get started, search industry groups on LinkedIn. Pick companies you might like to work for so you can keep current on their business. Consider alumni groups and professional associations. Keep in mind that you can choose to show or hide the group on your profile.
Make a list of companies or industry groups that you might follow.
Area #6: Status Updates
Like other social media sites, LinkedIn allows you to post status updates. Use this to share things that might be of interest to recruiters, prospective employers, or others in your connection circle. Examples might be an article or book review of what you have been reading, a volunteer project you completed, a scholarship, an honor or grant awarded, a blog or interview you completed, or quote that may be of value to a broad cross-section of your connections.
Brainstorm some useful ideas and resources that can be shared broadly with your connections and add them periodically. Again, what you share will be visible to all of your connections as part of the news feed feature, so be careful of what you post.