Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Five Tips for Creating an Effective LinkedIn Profile

As the summer begins to wind down and the new school year is right around the corner, now is the perfect time to make sure your LinkedIn profile is fresh and up to date. By investing the time now to make sure your LinkedIn profile stands out, you’ll have a much better chance of connecting with key recruiters and employers when you graduate and begin your job search. It’s also a great way to start building your professional network with other people who are already in the field.

Keep in mind that LinkedIn is also a huge search engine for employers to find qualified candidates. Millions of these searches take place on the site each day. The stronger your profile, the better your chances of being found by the very people you’re looking to connect with.

Here are five key things you can do to increase the effectiveness of your LinkedIn profile:

·         Start with your headline – Your headline is one of the most important parts of your profile. It is the first thing people will see on LinkedIn when they visit your profile, but it’s also what people will see when you show up on other places on LinkedIn. Your headline should contain keywords that communicate your value proposition.  It should be the preview that makes people want to read the rest of your profile.
·         Create an engaging summary – Your summary gives you the opportunity to tell the world what’s unique about you. You should list your past accomplishments, your current skills, and what you’re working towards professionally. Take a look at the descriptions of jobs you want and be sure to include key words from those descriptions in your summary. This will give you a better chance of showing up in the search results of recruiters looking to fill these types of jobs.
·         Aim to have at least 100 connections – By having at least 100 connections you’ll show others on the platform that you take LinkedIn, and professional networking, seriously. It will also demonstrate your familiarity with technology and social media - key skills for today’s workforce.
·         Ask for recommendations – Although some find it a bit intimidating to ask for a recommendation, these are the gold standard for recruiters. Reach out to past and current co-workers who you’ve had a good experience with and ask them to recommend you. Offer to leave them a recommendation in exchange.
·        Customize your LinkedIn URL – Many LinkedIn profile URLs contain a long string of random numbers and letters. LinkedIn allows you to customize this in ways that make it easier for others to find you both on and off of the platform. The most common type of custom LinkedIn URL is www.linkedin.com/in/FirstnameLastname. These types of URLs look more professional, are easier to remember, and make it easier for search engines to find you.

And finally, keep in mind that LinkedIn isn’t just your online resume. It’s a social network that allows you to join conversations with other professionals. One of the most effective things you can do on LinkedIn is simply participate. Post regular status updates to your profile, comment on status updates from other people in your network, and find a few industry groups to join. By doing this, you’ll start to become better informed about your field while already standing out to potential employers.

Perhaps most importantly, remember that your LinkedIn profile represents your personal brand online. Every part of your profile will play a role in telling your story to future employers and to the broader online world, so make sure it’s the story you want to tell.