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Ten Tips to Optimize LinkedIn Profiles for Job Seekers

October 21, 2015 | Leave a Comment

by Cheryl Megurdichian

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Hands on keyboard with Victor Reader Stream for notesLinkedIn has more than 347 million users and has become a go-to source for recruiters, employers and professionals seeking to build a strong network.

Here are 10 tips that can help any beginner set up a polished profile.

1. Take Time to Plan Your Profile

Pick your target audience.  Decide what type of job in which industry you are seeking.  Look at online job descriptions to find out the key words used in the industry.  Write these down and incorporate them repeatedly throughout your profile — especially your summary and experience.

Write the text for each section in a Word document.  Spell-check everything.  Then check it again.  Cut and paste it directly into LinkedIn.

2. Get a Custom URL

This simple step makes your profile look more professional and makes it easier to share.  Customize your URL by going to Settings > Edit Public Profile>Customize Your Public Profile URL.

3. Use the Right Photos

Select a recent photo that looks professional and friendly.  If you are not sure what “professional” implies, do some research to see how people in your targeted career dress.  If you don’t have a photo, ask a friend to take one.  Upload a JPEG file, with the size set to 200 x 200 pixels.

Once you have this in place, you can add a background photo that adds some personality.  To add this, go to Profile> Edit Profile > Add a background photo.  The photo must be JPEG, PNG or GIF formats and should be 1400 x 425 pixels.  This photo is a great chance to convey something hard to describe in words.  Photos of yourself in action — on the job, volunteering, participating in something you are passionate about — all work well here.  But, keep it professional.

4.  Personalize Your Headline

LinkedIn will use your current job title and company as the default headline.  You can easily change this to highlight the professional brand that will set you apart.  Be specific, keep it succinct and speak directly to your target audience.  Use keywords where appropriate and keep it to 120 characters

5.  Create a Strong Summary

“Ideally your summary should be around 3-5 short paragraphs long, preferably with a bulleted section in the middle.  It should walk the reader through your work passions, key skills, unique qualifications, and a list of the various industries you’ve had exposure to over the years.”  Career Horizons

6.  Include a Current Job, Even if You are Unemployed

Most recruiting professionals will use the current title box when they are searching for candidates.  While it is important to NEVER LIE in your posting, you can be creative.  Come up with a job title that describes the position you are targeting and enter that in the Current Job field.  Then use the Employer field to describe your status:  “Seeking Employment” or “Seeking a New Opportunity.”

7.  Highlight Accomplishments

Use the experience section to highlight your accomplishments.  Describe what you have done using action words.  Include who and what was impacted by your work.  Use bullet points to make it easy to read.

8.  Add Volunteer Experience, Languages, Awards

These additional features are a great way to showcase unique skills and help you stand out from the crowd.

9.  Build Your Network

Set a goal of connecting with 50-100 other people.  Ask people you know to connect with you.  Then ask them to introduce you to their contacts.  You can also used LinkedIn’s Get Introduced feature to contact 2nd-degree connections (people your existing contacts are connected to):

  1. Go to the profile of a 2nd-degree connection you want to get introduced to.
  2. Your mutual connections will display on the right of the page.
  3. If more than one person can make the introduction, choose who you want to make the introduction.
  4. Click Request an intro. This will take you to a text box where you can explain why you’re asking for an introduction.
  5. Click Ask for an introduction. This message may get forwarded to the person you want to be introduced to.

If the member isn’t within your network, use the Send InMail link to contact them. Also, if the member is in a shared group with you, you can send a message to them directly.

10.  Join LinkedIn Groups

These groups are a great place to be active on LinkedIn and to expand your network.  Find groups that are related to your target industry, your college, social causes you are passionate about and your interests.  Select groups that are active and have lots of members.

It is worth the time it takes to set up a polished profile.  Once you have it up and running, it is time to start making new connections, seeking recommendations and building your network.

If you use adaptive technology and need help with the technical aspects of setting up a LinkedIn account, attend our Get LinkedIn class on Saturday, November 14.

Cheryl is the Director of Communications at Second Sense.

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