LinkedIn Profile Tips

Carolyn Braganca, English ’15

LinkedIn is a professional networking website—similar to Facebook but more career-focused. This is not the best place to share what parties you went to over the weekend, to post pictures of your food, or to tell a funny story about your cat. This is the kind of website on which you share your career aspirations, your career experience, your honors and awards, and your professional skills. LinkedIn is one of the best tools to establish and market your personal brand.

Though you will probably have some real friends as connections on LinkedIn, the main audience of your LinkedIn profile will be current and future employers. You do not want them to see who you are to your friends on the weekend—you want them to see both your personal brand and your professional story. This post will go over a few tips to make your LinkedIn profile both professional and representative. Just keep in mind that the degree of freedom and creativity may depend on your chosen career field—marketers or writers are sometimes able to be more creative than scientists or politicians.

Carolyn Braganca

Profile Picture

This will probably be one of the first—if not the first—thing viewers notice on your profile, and it will definitely be the image that sticks in their mind when recalling it. For this reason, your picture should be a strong visual representation of your professional identity. It should be professional—appropriate outfit, appropriate background, etc.—and it should show your face clearly, preferably a head-and-shoulders shot. Ideally, your profile image should also indicate your interests, either professional or appropriate. If you are looking at a career in film production, your picture could show you on a film set. Be creative and unique, but don’t forget to be professional.

Title

Your title should include your name, job, location (work location, not hometown), and career field. If your current job is not the job you want to list—I did not want to list my job as Customer Associate at Panera Bread, for example—you can put down Student at (insert university here) or you can put down something creative. I have seen people put down “Modern-Day Adventurer” as their title—it depends on how bold you want to be and what job/career you’re looking for.

Summary

Your summary is kind of like a very short, very general cover letter or like the introduction paragraph to an essay. It’s a very brief, very concise summary of your professional story. At the very least, your summary should go over who you are, for whom do you/would you like to work, and what would you like/do you do? When going over your career or desired career, be sure to use buzz words unique to your industry that will draw attention should a potential employer do a search using those words. For example, if you want to be a journalist, you might include “online journalism,” “multimedia journalism,” “web editing,” or “web and social media management.”

Do not go too far into the details—that’s what the rest of the profile is for. This is also a place to show your writing style and your voice—depending on the career you’re looking at/are in, your voice may be whimsical and quirky or it may be direct and logical.

Experience

This is essentially the résumésection; however, unlike an actual résumé, your experience section can list any or all the jobs you’ve had, you have a small degree of freedom in how you structure it, and you can show what you did instead of just saying what you did. There is no one-page limit or age limit to your experience section—you can put down your experience as freshman class president in high school if you feel that experience may be applicable to your career field. You also don’t have to do bullet points that start with action words—you can describe your experience more like a story if you wish, as long as you keep it brief.

Though, most importantly, you can attach links or projects to you experience section. If you had a technical writing internship and you helped make a company style guide, attach the guide (with the company’s permission). If you wrote blogs or designed elements of a company’s website, attach the link to your work. Why just tell people when you can also show them?

Skills

This is where you can not only highlight your skills but also frame them in a way that makes you look unique. Not only can you enter in up to 50 skills you possess, you can also re-order the skills to show skills you believe more valuable and applicable to your desired career. When your connections see these skills on your profile, they will see the ones you consider valuable first and will have the opportunity to endorse you for a particular skill. If you wanted to go into Event Management, your skills list would probably read “event planning,” “management,” “social media,” and “organizing” as your first skills, and ideally, these skills would have at least a handful of endorsements next to them. Don’t be afraid to be proactive and ask people for endorsements.

These five tips are some basic things you can do—they are kind of the core of your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn will show you how to do them. The next five tips require a degree of proactivity and can help make your profile show your unique personal brand.

Your Link

Make your link personal and professional—this may help make your LinkedIn page be the first thing to pop up when potential employers Google your name. When you set up a LinkedIn profile, LinkedIn will assign you a computer-generated link, which will most likely be your first name-your last name followed by a series of numbers. Though it’s not terrible, it looks computer-generated. Change it to firstnamelastname or something along those lines. Just be sure to keep it professional.

Join Groups

Join groups that correspond with your interests—they do not all have to be professional. These groups serve two purposes. First, they establish a network of people united by a common interest and can sometimes even lead to jobs. Second, they give viewers a good idea of your interests.

Follow the Industry

Just like individuals, companies also have LinkedIn pages. Look for companies on you are potentially interested in joining and follow their pages. This will serve multiple purposes. It will show viewers your interest in the industry, it will keep you up to date on news and trends within the industry, and it could lead to job opportunities.

Fill It

If you consider your LinkedIn profile your professional story, you want to make you pack it with as many details as you can to give viewers—potential employers—the clearest picture of you (your professional brand) as you can give them. LinkedIn is really good about telling you what you can do to vamp your profile. Are you fluent in Mandarin—put that in. Did you volunteer at the local soup kitchen for three years—put that in. Have you written any articles or thesis papers—put them in. This is not the place to be shy.

Proofread

This seems too simple to even be on here, but it is probably one of the most important things you can do, regardless of what career you are looking to enter. Potential employers probably look at hundreds of résumés, hundreds of cover letters, and hundred of LinkedIn profiles. There is no shortage of people looking for jobs, and employers are looking for anything that can help them thin the herd to a manageable number. Do not let an error as simple as a misspelled word or an awkwardly worded sentence ruin your personal brand. For the love of all things good and green on this Earth, proofread everything.

 

LinkedIn provides many opportunities for you to develop and market a personal brand, and the tips I have gone over are just a few of many. The most important thing you want to remember is that your personal brand should be unique but professional, and that its expression should match your desired career field.

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