By Don Goodman
Once you have completed your resume and BEFORE you distribute it, you need to optimize your LinkedIn profile.
This is crucial because, according to an April, 2011 Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey, 95% of employers and virtually every recruiter will look you up on LinkedIn before calling you.
So your LinkedIn Profile needs to be in synch with your brand messaging on the resume.
Here we will review the key factors in developing and optimizing your LinkedIn Profile.
Before you do anything, you will want to adjust your settings so you are not alerting the world and your boss that you changed your profile. In the top right of your LinkedIn home, you'll see your profile picture. Click on the drop down arrow below that picture, and select the link that says "Settings & Privacy."
Click on the "Privacy" link, and select the "Sharing profile edits" option, where you can indicate that you do not want people to know that you have made changes to your profile. Go through each of the settings in this section, and choose appropriately for your situation and goals.
Before you start writing anything for your profile, first determine the 2-3 keywords that you want associated with your name. These are the search terms that people will use to find people like you, and you will want to make sure you have used these terms effectively to ensure you show up in the first or second page of LinkedIn search results.
If you are a programmer, then programmer is a good word to start with, but adding Mobile Applications helps differentiate you, if appropriate. Other keywords might be Cloud Computing, Scrum Master, Enterprise Architect, and so on, as appropriate to your skills and experience.
Key tip: Go to LinkedIn, and search for people like you to see what others have used and what seems to be most effective.
Next to your name appears your "Professional Headline" which you can edit. You have 120 characters to tell the world who you are and why they should contact you. If you do nothing here, which is what most people do, then it will just give the title of your most recent job. That is not the way you want to be shown.
Which is a better Headline?
John Foster, Software Engineer at Data Management
John Foster, Senior Software Engineer with over 10 years of success in mobile and enterprise-wide applications
Your goal is to get a 100% complete profile and you will need a photo to do that. If you are uncomfortable with that, you can use an avatar, but photos are usually preferred because they make you recognizable and human. Just make sure the photo is a professional pose and not a picture of you at the beach.
Your profile is not considered complete unless you have at least 3 recommendations, so after you have completed entering information into your profile, go to the LinkedIn Learning Center to learn how to develop recommendations for your work.
LinkedIn gives you three different ways to link to different web pages to show off your work. If you don't have a blog or website, then this is a great opportunity for you to point to white papers or other sites that showcase your work. If you have these websites, make sure you use a good searchable and relevant title, so instead of saying "My Website" use actual names such as "My White Paper on Cloud Computing".
If you see /pub/ in your LinkedIn profile, you have the LinkedIn default full profile. It is important that you personalize it with your name. If you have a common name just play around a bit until you find one that you feel comfortable with. Click on "Edit" beside the "Public Profile" URL when you are in the Edit Profile screen to change your profile URL to your name.
The Summary is one of the most important parts of your LinkedIn profile! Use the LinkedIn Summary to really showcase who you are and what you can do for a firm. Here you have 2,000 characters to express your value proposition and the brand messaging you have on your resume - use all 2,000.
Note that your writing style here is a bit different, more conversational (first person) with short paragraphs and a lot of white space to make it easy to be read online.
Start with a hard-hitting profile and branding statement.
Senior IT Executive: CIO / CTO / COO
Specializing in turnarounds, revitalizations and rapid growth organizations
Then, follow with a summary of your core skills and accomplishments. A key trick here is to imagine that the only thing that they will see about you is your LinkedIn profile summary, so showcase the key information here that will make them want to immediately pick up the phone and call you.
I am the fellow that people call to handle their most challenging issues. My career is marked by:
IMPORTANT NOTE if you are currently employed: Unless you want your employer to know that you are looking for a new position (which, depending on the employer, can lead to instant job loss), avoid putting in any statements like "Available for relocation." Also make sure you are not publishing any information that your company would not want to make public such as revenues and earnings numbers.
The Specialties section is your opportunity to drive keyword density so you show up in searches. Include the relevant terms, technologies and tools that you are familiar with and that are important to the next employer.
In this section you will have a description of your various jobs. Keep these short and sweet and focus on achievements. Unlike the resume which goes into more detail, this is just a snapshot of some of the things that you would brag about in a job interview.
LinkedIn has added an "Additional Information" section where you can add your associations, affiliations, certifications, and personal interests. Use these to drive even greater keyword density for the kinds of positions you are looking for. Here you can also tie in to your Twitter account.
There are also applications that you can add to your LinkedIn profile including incorporating your blog, putting up PowerPoint presentations, adding Amazon book reviews, and linking to white papers, and we will save those areas for a future discussion.
LinkedIn has changed forever the job search landscape. Follow these tips and you will be sure to stand out. For additional information, check out Job-Hunt's section on LinkedIn for Job Search and LinkedIn's own Learning Center.
Don Goodman is a triple-certified nationally recognized career professional (Expert Resume Writer, Certified Career Coach, and Job Search Strategist) with over 20 years of experience helping thousands of people quickly land their next job. A graduate of the Wharton School of Business and Stanford University’s Executive Program, Don's firm was rated as the #1 Resume Writing Service in 2013, 2014, and 2015. Check out his Resume Writing Service. You can find Don on LinkedIn, and follow him on Twitter @JobExpert and Google+.