Ready to land your dream job? You’re in luck because recruiters and employers are looking for candidates in record numbers this year. And one tool they’re using to help them recruit is LinkedIn. Whether you already have a full LinkedIn profile, or you’ve never set one up, follow these five tips to make your profile shine.
Start with the details
This might seem counter-intuitive, but getting the details down first can help you round out the more general parts of your profile, such as the headline and summary. So don’t be afraid to dive right into the “Work Experience” section.
A good format to use for your experience is to start with a one or two sentence summary of each position, followed by bullet points that highlight specifics in terms of accomplishments and results. You might use a slightly edited version of your resume for this.
Get the headline right
Let’s be honest: your LinkedIn headline does a lot of heavy lifting for you. So it’s important that it highlight your industry or career as well as your skills and/or what you can offer to an employer. It doesn’t need to be cute or attention grabbing. But since it’s the one piece of your profile that most people actually will read, you do want to make sure it conveys information about you. Put yourself in the mind of a recruiter for your dream job, and make sure your headline has some keywords that will identify you as a good fit for that position. For example, if you’re looking for a career in something as specific as accounting or database management, you want to make sure that’s obvious from your headline.
To start brainstorming your headline, go back to your Work Experience information. You should find a story somewhere in your summary statements and your bullet points. Once you land on a headline, you might even want to tweak your Work Experience section to make sure it works well with and flows from your headline.
Make the effort with a headshot
This little image is the most-viewed part of your profile—in fact, recruiters and employers see it before they even click through to look at the rest of your profile. You don’t need to hire a professional photographer for your headshot, but if you have access to one, it can make the process easier. If you don’t, have someone take a a photo of you in front of a neutral background, and crop it to show just your head and the top of your shoulders. A good rule of thumb for how to dress is to wear what you would wear to your dream job (even though only the top of your shoulders will be visible). You want to look professional and friendly. Employers are looking for someone who will get along well with colleagues, so smiling or having an approachable look is important.
List all 50 skills
LinkedIn has up to 50 slots for you to list your skills, and they use these skills like keywords to match you to recruiters’ or employers’ searches. So, the more skills or keywords you have listed, the more likely you’ll show up in someone’s search.
Not sure which skills you should list? One place to get ideas is from the LinkedIn profiles of people who have jobs similar to yours, or who work in the same field. CareerOneStop’s Tools & Technology Finder is also a good place to identify the most common tools or software programs for your specific occupation; if you have experience with the tools or technologies you find listed when you look up your occupation there, you should definitely list them.
Ask for recommendations
This last point can be the hardest one for many people, but having even a couple recommendations on your LinkedIn profile can make a difference in whether a recruiter pauses and takes a closer look. Recommendations can be quite short—even two to three sentences—so asking someone to write one for you does not have to be a huge burden to them.
In terms of who you should ask, you can really consider almost anyone you’ve known in a professional setting. That can include people more senior than you, more junior than you, or colleagues at your own level. It can also include current or former colleagues, bosses, or employees.