How (and why) to Make a Killer LinkedIn Profile
When I first started on LinkedIn, it felt a little pointless.
Like seriously, I am already putting all of this info into my resume. What’s the point of linking employers to this? The only difference is the layout is a little prettier and there is now a brief description of me at the head. Big whoop. Still the same old bullet point info.
It took some time and some good tips from others, but now, I finally get it.
When used correctly, LinkedIn can be a very dynamic addition to your history as a worker. It allows you to make easy, instant changes that others can see. It gives you more space and opportunity to embed relevant links to your online content. Best of all, unlike a regular resume, it is not cause for complaint if you go over a single 8 ½ x 11 page. This means that you can truly show off your personality and work, instead of handing over a dull list to your potential employer.
Today, I’m going to pass my best LinkedIn profile tips to you!
To make it easy, I am going to work from top to bottom in the order that these features appear on your desktop browser profile.
1.) Cover Image
There are various uses for this. Because I wanted to show off my love of the outdoors and knack for nature photography, I featured a photo that I took on a hiking trip. Another great use for this section is to feature artistic compilations of content you’ve created, books you have published, or art that you’ve made. Bottom line: show work that represents who you are and what you hope your future will include.
2.) Profile Picture
Look professional. Use a clean, clear photograph that shows you from the shoulders up. For best results, avoid loud patterned clothing or busy backgrounds. You want the focus to be your face so that your employers can see who you are.
3.) Your Title
This does not have to be your job title, though it can be. For mine, I put “Content Creator|Writer|Traveler”. While these are not what I make my income doing, they are very descriptive of who I am, what I do, and what I hope that people will pay me for in the future. Here are some other ideas for interesting ways to make your title stand out!
Pretty basic. Though if you have something you do that is cooler sounding than your current day job, consider using it. Like, if you work at McDonalds but you run an awesome travel blog, highlight that you are a writer rather than a McD’s employee. They can see your other positions farther down your page. You want the top stuff to pull them in!
5.) Bio & Digital Media Links
This is the second biggest section of your profile. Make sure the first couple phrases hook people so that they will want to read your entire profile! I began mine with a few catchy, unique ways that people have described me over the years. I’ve also seen people use a short, funny or attention getting personal anecdote to then launch into who they are and what drives them to pursue their work/interests.
Following your bio, you have the option to post pictures and/or web links to your online content. I try to limit myself to two or three of these types of content pieces, because people may not see past your first couple due to limited viewable space.
6.) Work History
This is typically going to be the biggest portion of your profile. When I first started, I laid it out just like I would lay out a resume. This was a mistake. Why? Because it is instantly boring and forgettable. We complain about the lists of dates and names to remember when we have to learn history in school, so why would we lay out our profiles on the same principal?
Instead, make your work history read like a story. A good formula I have found is to start each job section with a brief description of who the business is and how they benefit people. From there, make a second paragraph in which you describe how you created value in your workplace. The tricky part? Avoid lists. Make it engaging, descriptive, and fun to read! If you find it boring, others likely will too.
If you never went to college, don’t fear! List particularly cool classes you took in high school. Show off that Microsoft Word certification course. Talk about how you taught yourself web design. Get creative. Life is a learning experience, so whether you got it in a classroom or elsewhere, show what you’ve learned and give proof that you learned it via photos, screenshots, or links to content. Similar to my work descriptions, I try to make my education experiences as interesting and story-like as possible too.
8.) Volunteer Work
This section is basically the same as work experience, except with a public service emphasis. This profile section is optional, but if you have worked on a project that is valuable to your community or others, list it! Employers love to see a person who is concerned about the good of others.
Use this section to list your most prevalent skills. From there, people who view your profile can choose to endorse these skills. If you want to add credibility to your skills, ask friends and coworkers to endorse them. You may get a lot of random endorsements from other people too, as many people do this to spread awareness of their own LinkedIn profiles.
If you have extra content links to share that you couldn’t anywhere else, this is the place! One-off articles that you’ve gotten published places, viral content you’ve created, or awards you have won that you wish to brag up. You don’t HAVE to fill in this section, but if you have something to brag about, brag it!
This is a good way to align yourself with organizations and brands that you admire. For example, I would love to be on a documentary team, I like travel, I am a writer, and I am a fan of small businesses/entrepreneurs. So I have added things to my interests to showcase that, such as National Geographic, History Channel, Air BnB, Wordpress, and Olan Rogers. This is just another small way that companies can get a sense for what sort of organizations you might like to be a part of.
With a little time and creativity, you will be proud to show off your LinkedIn profile!
Do you have a favorite profile to share? Are you super proud of your own? Link it in the comments!
Mine is here.
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