For Candidates: Five tips to Optimise your Linkedin Profile
A strong Linkedin profile is a vital first step on any career path.
Linkedin is a social networking site aimed more at professional networking and helping job seekers and employers connect with each other. Optimising your profile will put you ahead of the curve of the thousands of other job seekers on the market. With a organised profile, good use of networking, and good use of SEO, you’ll have a strong profile that will bring in much more interest.
But when entering the professional world, as a freelancer or someone looking for a permanent position, Linkedin can feel intimidating, and it can be difficult to know where to start.
With that in mind, here are five simple steps to optimise your Linkedin page, to get the best results with employers or potential clients.
The first thing you should do is get your profile up to a standard with everyone else. Luckily, there are a couple of simple, well-documented ways to do this, and they all involve tidying up your profile. Linkedin itself will actively push you to do these things- don’t ignore them!
Start with your profile picture. You should never use the default profile picture. It communicates to recruiters and potential employers that you are not serious about the platform at best, and at worst suggests you might just be a bot.
Equally, always keep in mind that Linkedin is a network for professionals, and a picture that works on other social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter will not be appropriate. You can’t go far wrong with a professional looking picture in front of a neutral background, like an actor’s headshot, or a less severe passport photo. If you’ve got the money, consider paying a photographer.
You should also consider replacing the default background cover. While not as vital, it’s extra space on your profile to take advantage of. Consider using it to clearly display your contact information front and centre. Linkedin recommends cover photos be 1584 pixels wide and 396 pixels tall.
Then, you’ll need to fill out the rest of your information as fully as you are able. In particular, make sure you list your location, your industry, and your current position, as well as any past positions, your education, contact information, and at least three skills. Linkedin should guide you through this process, avoid skipping any of it. Again, a full profile shows to employers that you take the platform seriously.
2. Recommendations and Endorsements
Linkedin used to require a minimum of three written recommendations before it would consider a profile complete. While this is no longer the case- you now, in fact, don’t require any- they are still a vital tool in your arsenal. For freelancers, these are effectively your product testimonials. For employees, this lets you be proactive with your references, instead of waiting for an employer to contact them, you can put positive feedback front and centre.
Endorsements are incredibly easy to give and receive, only requiring a quick click. Consider asking a coworker or friend to endorse you for your key skills. It’s good form to endorse someone for something if they endorse you. Because they are so simple, endorsements aren’t incredibly vital, but they can help add a little more credibility to your skill set, and indicate you have a valuable network.
Endorsements can help add a little more credibility to your skill set, and indicate you have a valuable network.
3. Search Engine Optimisation
In simple terms, SEO is making your profile as visible as possible to search engines, and pushes you to the top of search rankings. You can see it in action whenever you google something.
SEO techniques are constantly evolving, and can seem very intimidating, but the principles remain the same. Your best bet on Linkedin is to make good use of keywords. The tagline tool is your best opportunity for this.
If you’re not certain about what keywords to use, search a few that seem relevant to you using Linkedin's search tool or google, and see what results you get. It can help you narrow things down to be more precise.
If you’re a freelancer, mention this right in the tagline, so it’ll be the first thing a potential client will see. Headhunters won’t waste their time on you, and people looking for freelancers will know straight away.
More generally, use your tagline to be as direct and unsubtle as possible. The more you can narrow things down into your skillset, the better your SEO. For example, ‘UX Copywriter’ is better than ‘Writer’ and ‘London UX Copywriter’ is better than that. In addition, make sure you use nouns over verbs were possible. A ‘Software Developer’ is better than ‘developing software’ for instance, because employers are more likely to search for roles rather than tasks.
4. Personal Branding
Linkedin summaries usually only allow about two sentences before cutting off the rest under a read more. Therefore, make sure those two sentences are as strong as they can be. Remember, your Linkedin summary shouldn’t just be a repeat of your CV, that should be more targeted. Your Linkedin summary will be read by more people, so it needs to be broad without being vague. We also already know it needs to have a good balance of keywords, but what else do you need to consider?
There are some great tips for developing your summary here, but the key is that it needs to tell a story. Consider the things that set you apart from every other candidate, and what unique value you might bring to a client or business. Be authentic, but make sure the piece as a whole reads positively.
Avoid typical cliches like ‘hard worker’, ‘passionate’ or ‘works well independently.’ At best, these are meaningless, conveying nothing to the reader. At worst, the reader is going to infer their own meaning, and base it on what all the other people who used those cliches were like.
There are a few other ways to make your personal brand on Linkedin. Consider uploading your portfolio, or projects you’ve completed. Provide links to your personal website if you have one, or your public social media profiles, and then use those to convey more about yourself. You should also take advantage of Linkedin’s custom URL feature to get a more SEO friendly URL.
5. Building a Network
It’s important to remember that Linkedin is, at its core, a networking site. This means that, unfortunately, you can’t just set it and forget it, you’ll get much better results if you engage with it actively.
Connect with clients, employers and coworkers. Linkedin recommends at least 50 contacts to have a completely rounded profile. With that said, never approach people blindly. While the process is similar to friending people on Facebook, never forget that Linkedin is a professional platform, and you should approach people similarly. Personalise any requests you send with a note saying where you’ve met or worked together before.
In addition, Linkedin has a number of groups covering a range of professional interests. Look for a few that seem most relevant to you and sign up! Groups allow you to get in contact with a wider range of people. Do note that groups are more for connecting, getting advice and sharing quality content, they are not for advertisements.
This doesn’t mean you need to use it constantly, check in once a week, update your status and post in a few groups, and you’ll see an increase in responses.
Linkedin has a few more hurdles than most social media, and a necessary barrier to entry to keep it a valuable tool for recruiters. But none of these hurdles are insurmountable, and these tips will help you get a handle on the site, letting you control you put out there as your own personal brand.
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