The ultimate guide to building your LinkedIn profile
With over 660 million members in 200 countries, LinkedIn is the largest and most used professional social network. Traditional job boards are still around but are not as important as they used to be. If you are looking for a new job, LinkedIn is the place to be. You are not alone on LinkedIn, so in order to get the most out of your time spent on the platform, your profile page needs to be complete and well optimized. In this guide, I will help you to (re)build your LinkedIn profile in the right way.
Defining work ambitions
Before we head over to LinkedIn, you will need to define your personality as well as your ambitions and goals when it comes to your career. This is important because you can use that knowledge to shape your LinkedIn profile. You cannot do this without having self-reflective skills, which means the capability to objectively look at yourself and asses what defines your personality. What are your strong and weak points? In what kind of work environment to you strive best? If you are having a hard time doing this, you can always use a personality test to help you out. The so-called ‘DISC personality test’ is a great tool for this. It’s important to keep this kind of information in mind when working on your LinkedIn page. Now once you got a clear view of this, it is time to move on to your actual profile page.
LinkedIn header image
We will start with the header image on your profile and work our way down from thereon. It may seem a bit weird to talk about a header image. But it is still quite important. The reason for this is because it makes your profile stand out from all the bland profiles that stick with the boring default header image. Most companies provide their employees with header images they can use, often those look professional. Of course, they are almost like a sort of promotional material for your employer, but it is better than nothing. If you are serious about the header image, I recommend using or creating images that are related to your area of expertise. It should look simple, clean and should not distract the reader from the main content. For this you can check out canva.com, it’s a free tool to create all kinds of graphics.
If your LinkedIn profile does not have a profile image, you are doing something seriously wrong. Adding a profile picture makes your profile a lot more personal and genuine. In my opinion, it is therefore mandatory to have one. As always, there are some guidelines you should be following. Never use pictures showing you on a night out, drunk or anything else that is considered inappropriate on a social business network. If you are not sure if your picture is suitable and if it matches with the intentions you have with your profile, check out our article about selecting the right profile photo here.
LinkedIn profile tagline
Your tagline is an important way to attract attention from possible prospects and recruiters. Most of the time, when you are employed, it is best to put your job title in the tagline. Keep it clean and professional and don’t use a lot of exclamation marks and emoticons. It discredits your profile. Another option you could opt for is to include keywords that are relevant to your job. This way you will show up more often in relevant LinkedIn searches.
Of course, it’s a different situation when you are actively looking for a job. To increase your visibility for recruiters you should add your most recent or wanted job title in combination with a statement that you are looking for a new challenge to your tagline. For example:
Senior DevOps engineer – Looking for opportunities abroad
How to write a professional LinkedIn summary
Your summary or the ‘about me’ section on LinkedIn is one of the most important aspects of your profile. LinkedIn’s search algorithm depends a lot on the keywords used in your profile. The area designated for your summary is the perfect place to optimize your profile for LinkedIn’s search engine. I can imagine the next big question that you have is what to include in the summary? Good question let me help you out with that.
You can view LinkedIn as your digital resume/business card, it therefore shows quite some similarities with writing a summary for a resume (LINK). When writing a summary of your profile it is crucial to keep in mind what kind of message you want to convey. That’s why, before I moved on to talk about building your LinkedIn profile, I advised you to write out your ambitions and goals when it comes to work. Your summary is dependent on your goals and current role. If you are doing things right, your summary should change according to what you want to express.
For example, when you are actively looking for a job, your summary would look completely different than in other situations. In this case, you would want the reader to know that you are skilled in your area of expertise, that your work experience has been really valuable and that the combination of these two would make you an excellent employee. In order to show recruiters how you can be of value to their company, it is important to quantify how you have been successful in your past roles. The best way to do this is to focus on achievements, successes, and metrics. Thereafter, you should connect those with your ambitions and personality. How did your personality traits help you in achieving success?
Let me give you an example:
“I have been working as a recruiter for more than 10 years now. As a person that is driven by personal connections and focused on creating win-win situations, this role has been perfect for me. Mainly due to my drive to help candidates find their dream job, combined with my personal approach I have been quite successful in my last role as a Corporate IT Recruiter for company X. I managed to grow our team from 60 to 130 technical Java developers in a timespan of only three years. Over the years I have gained experience in a lot of different aspect within IT. As I want to keep learning and developing myself, I am currently looking for a new challenge within recruitment. I would prefer a management/coaching recruitment role in which I can further develop my leadership skills.”
As you can see there is a focus on connecting experience, personality, and a recent achievement. This isn’t a holy grail and is certainly not perfect yet, but you get the idea. However, it’s a different story when you are still active in your current role and have a completely different goal in mind. Let’s say you want candidates or prospects to find you more easily on LinkedIn, your summary would change accordingly.
“As a Corporate Recruiter within Company X, I am responsible for the whole recruitment process of our IT division. As Company X has been growing really fast in the last couple of years (we have already more than doubled in size), we are looking for talented IT professionals in a wide variety of roles to strengthen our ‘family’. If you are looking for an organization where YOU are the priority and where there is a genuine interest in your development, feel free to contact me by email or phone. I am happy to tell you more about our possibilities and unique culture.”
In this case, there is more focus on persuading candidates to contact you. It gives a bit of background about your employer as well as your role as a corporate recruiter. Your summary is the first thing people will read when looking at your profile. Therefore, you should make it personal and genuine. Keep in mind what you want to express to readers, and you should be able to write a fitting and awesome summary.
One last thing to keep in mind is that most people have the tendency to write about themselves in 3rd person. I recommend no to do that for your LinkedIn summary. It is more personal when you write about yourself in first person. It’s important to use your summary to connect with the reader. This is easier when you are writing in a more personal way.
Writing your LinkedIn work experience the right way
When it comes to your work experience, it is important to highlight what you have achieved in past work experiences. You can follow a basic structure for this, where you first present the reader with general information regarding the company and your role. Keep it short, factual and simple. There is no need to put a whole essay here, its main use is to function as a brief introduction.
“Amazon is an American multinational tech company and one of the big four in this industry. With a focus on e-commerce, cloud computing and digital streaming, Amazon is active in a wide range of industries. My role as an HR business partner is focused on facilitating our workforce to excel in their job.”
However, the important part is writing about your job responsibilities. Just like as on your resume, you would want to write about achievements and make those measurable. This shows how your skills and expertise translate to meaningful business results. As said before, your resume or LinkedIn profile page is like a sales pitch. So, you should treat it like one. That means you will have to impress and convince the reader that you possess the skills they need. There is no better way than to write about successes in your work and make those achievements measurable. Let me give you an example of how this could look like:
- Reduce workplace absenteeism in our cloud computing division by 1,5% and therefore saving close to 30.000.000$.
- During my work as a HR business partner our overall employee satisfaction increased from 7,8 to 8,3.
- Worked as a project lead for the implementation of a new HR management application in which employees could access their personal information, salary and vacation days.
- Redesigned the performance review cycle within our cloud computing division, this led to an increase in contentment across managers and employees (based on an internal questionnaire).
- By modifying our compensation structure to better fit the current market, the retention rate of our senior technical developers increased by almost 10%.
Doing this will make your LinkedIn profile stand out and attract the right kind of visitors. In the end, your goal is to convince recruiters or other prospects what you are capable of. By putting the focus on achievements and metrics you immediately show how you can bring value to organizations.
Regardless of the content of your work experiences, it is also quite important to keep your profile page clean. Quite often I see profiles that have added a lot of older and irrelevant work experiences or that have simply not updated their recent experiences. Those are mistakes you really shouldn’t be making. The same goes for separately adding different roles within the same organization to your work experience section. Luckily, LinkedIn will now automatically group work experiences at the same employer that are within 1 month of each other. This creates a clear nested view of your career movement.
Education & certifications
You cannot really go wrong with this one. You should add your high school, university bachelor and masters’ degree. Don’t forget to include your start and end date. If you had high marks or a relevant minor, you can add that as a description to your education.
The same goes for your certifications, you should add those that are relevant to your career and ambitions.
Skill endorsements and recommendations on LinkedIn
Skill endorsements is a way for connections in your network to validate that you possess certain skills by ‘endorsing’ them. You can add any skills you like but I would refrain from adding skills that are not relevant to your career or personality. Skill endorsements are done by the click of a button and are therefore quite different from the so-called ‘recommendations’ on LinkedIn. Recommendations are written statements received from connections, these can be requested, unlike skill endorsements.
However, both are powerful tools to increase the credibility and professionality of your LinkedIn profile page. So, reach out to your co-workers, old colleagues or other connections that have a solid understanding of your skillset and ask them to endorse you or to write a recommendation.
Recently, LinkedIn added a new feature called LinkedIn Assessments. It’s a way for LinkedIn to further connect their own learning module with LinkedIn profile pages. Currently, there are around 30 multiple-choice quizzes you can take on a wide variety of subjects, ranging from C++ to Microsoft Office. Every quiz consists of 15 timed questions. If you manage to pass the exam, you will get a badge next to the skill on your LinkedIn profile page.
If you ever did anything that is worth mentioning or that are relevant for your career, you can put them in this section. Think about published papers, patents, awards or courses.