Don't risk business relationships because of a poor LinkedIn profile. Use these simple tips to make your LinkedIn profile stand out.
You may be a smart, talented and productive employee, but odds are several million other people are as well.
LinkedIn has now surpassed 450 million users, so if you want to stand out, it’s not enough to have an impressive resume. You need to spend time working on (and reworking) your profile so it maximizes your chances of reaching the recruiters or connections who can help elevate your career.
We all know we should include a quality profile picture and a well-written summary at the top of our profiles — after all, these are the first impressions we make on LinkedIn. It’s also important that to include honest and detailed descriptions of your experiences and skills.
Beyond these basics, there are several smaller tweaks that can take your profile to the next level — and I guarantee you that relatively few of LinkedIn’s 450 million users have made them. If you want to stand out from the pack, make the following changes to your LinkedIn profile.
Personalize your headline
Many people assume the headline “has” to state your present job title and the company you work for, but this is simply not the case. By tweaking your headline, you can stand out from a sea of people who share the same job title. Consider incorporating keywords, articulating the value you provide a company (rather than the position title you hold), or stating that you’re looking for a job in [X field] if that’s the case. Just remember to keep it professional.
Repeat what’s important
No doubt you’ve acquired a wide array of skills over the years. It’s fine to list them all, but it’s also important to decide what you want to highlight. Spend some time contemplating the top five skills that would best appeal to the type of recruiter, connection or role you’re after. Then, emphasize these skills throughout your profile, from your summary to the descriptions of your work experiences. In this case, being redundant is a good thing: It will help cement the idea that you possess these skills. Bonus points if you communicate these skills via oft-searched-for keywords.
Make yourself easier to find
Creating a custom URL for your LinkedIn profile will make you more accessible to recruiters or contacts searching for you by name. Here’s a comparison to illustrate what I’m talking about:
The start-up fitness website BarBend has a LinkedIn URL that looks like this: https://www.linkedin.com/company/barbend. Their name is included in the URL, and there are no random characters or spaces that make the URL harder to remember.
In contrast, check out the LinkedIn URL for Facebook: https://www.linkedin.com/company-beta/10667?pathWildcard=10667. You’re probably not going to type that into your browser anytime soon. And if Facebook wasn’t such a massive company, it would be a lot tougher to locate them via search.
The point here is that for smaller businesses or individuals who don’t have national recognition, customizing your URL can make it easier for people to find your profile. The process is simple: Click here to learn how to do it. Once you’ve done that, you can make yourself even more accessible by promoting the URL on your personal website and/or social media profiles.
Solicit recommendations and endorsements
Yes, this requires asking former coworkers for a favor, which can be potentially awkward. But recommendations and endorsements do matter to recruiters and other potential connections who are scanning your profile. Reach out to folks who might be willing to endorse or recommend you in a personal way, and sweeten the pot by offering to write a recommendation or endorsements in exchange. (Just be sure you’re not recommending anyone you don’t truly respect. Your endorsements of other people can serve as a reflection of your own character.)
Even the most well-written copy can look unappealing when it’s presented as a wall of text. But many folks limit their multimedia content to a profile photo. Thus, a simple way to stand out on LinkedIn is to include multimedia elements throughout your profile. Incorporating a cover photo, Slideshares, videos, links, PDFs and so on will not only make your profile more visually engaging — it will also provide you with another opportunity to showcase the quality of your work.
When you fill in all or most of the available fields on LinkedIn, you’re bound to have a lot of content on your profile. Rather than expecting every potential recruiter or connection to weed through the content hoping to find what they’re looking for, make it easy on them. Rearrange the elements so the skills you want to highlight are always at the top of your profile. Also be sure to make each entry scannable by incorporating numbers and bullet points and utilizing short paragraphs instead of walls of text.
Include volunteer work
This might not seem as important as crafting the descriptions of your work experience, but in actuality employers are paying more attention to volunteer work than ever before. Thanks in part to the recession, employers are recognizing that some people have earned legitimate skills even while they weren’t a part of the workforce. In spite of this, only 45 percent of people on LinkedIn include their volunteer experience. This is a simple way to stand out from the crowd and capitalize on yet another opportunity to showcase your unique skillset.
Develop 500-plus connections
I know: This is easier said than done. But LinkedIn maintains that those who are able to create 500 or more connections will benefit from a visibility boost. Even if you can’t hit that number, consider increasing your number of connections by importing your email contacts into LinkedIn, scoping out the “People you may know” page on a regular basis, and connecting with everyone you know both in person and online.
None of these tweaks requires a massive time investmen, yet few people actually implement them. Simply by dedicating a few hours to these tips, you can make your LinkedIn profile stand out from the pack of 450 million recruits.
Photo credit: Twin Design / Shutterstock, Inc.