A few years back, I was in a Women In Technology (WIT) Executive Coaching program. One of my biggest leadership takeaways from the program was the importance of a well-crafted social network. My executive coach shared a true story of two equally qualified candidates competing for a sales job. The candidate with the stronger LinkedIn profile got the job.(Image: iStock/hocus-focus)
While a solid résumé is still needed to land a professional position, job seekers should not underestimate the importance of a solid LinkedIn profile—doing so could be detrimental to a great career. Last year, I had the honor of being on the planning team for an invitation-only corporate career day. A LinkedIn profile was one of the main criteria for attendees. That may sound a little absurd to some, but keep in mind that all companies have a vetting process for managing the influx of job applicants.
Having a superstar LinkedIn profile is important because studies show that 87% of recruiters use the tool, over 106 million users are on the site per month, and for sure, decision makers are sizing up candidates based on information found on LinkedIn. So, if you have a LinkedIn profile, good. But that’s just the start. The tips below will help you to stand out among other candidates and could make the difference between you landing a great job or losing the opportunity.
Here are five tips that will make LinkedIn your advocate:
Profiles with photographs get 21 times more views than profiles without a photograph according to LinkedIn’s data. Make sure your photo is professional, has good lighting, and does not include other images; i.e., your spouse, pets, or children.
The description under your photo should highlight what you do or the services and skills you provide. Do not make the mistake of putting ‘between jobs or currently seeking new opportunities’ in the headline. Being unemployed does not give you an edge for gaining new employment; presenting yourself well does.
Think of the summary section as an executive summary where you highlight your unique value and not the attributes of the companies where you gained your experience. Add key words that are relevant to your industry in this section so recruiters can find you. Key words alone will get you 13 times more views than profiles with less specific statements, according to LinkedIn research. Make sure your summary is 40 words or more because the word count in this section increases the likelihood of your profile showing up in searches.
This section should match the work experience outlined on your résumé and it should always be current. Do not make the mistake of only updating your profile when you’re in the job market. I landed my first six-figure position when I wasn’t looking to leave my current company. I updated my LinkedIn profile with every major event (promotion, award, education), and a recruiter found me!
One tip for boosting the experience section is to upload copies of shareable work documents you created, video, and other media that relates to your work.
Featured Skills and Endorsements
Go through the entire skill list provided by LinkedIn and select the ones that relate to your skill set. Then ask your colleagues, friends and associates to endorse you on LinkedIn for those skills.
Do not be shy about asking for endorsements and keep in mind that the best time to ask is while you are currently working with the individual.
Ready to move your career to the next level? Make sure you embrace social networking by creating a superstar LinkedIn profile. You will be amazed by how this professional network platform could help enhance your career.