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Personal Branding with Your LinkedIn Profile

By Meg Guiseppi

Personal Branding with Your LinkedIn Profile

You have a "brand" new resume aligning your unique set of qualifications with the needs of your well-researched target employers, and differentiating your value proposition (or personal brand) from your competitors in the job market.

Don't stop there. A great resume is not enough any more to land your next great gig.

You'll need a strong, on-brand online presence so recruiters and hiring decision makers, searching for and assessing candidates like you, will find plenty of diverse information about you.

Start with LinkedIn – the most important social network for any job seeker, but especially for executive job seekers.

Many savvy executives competing for the jobs you want have already embraced all that LinkedIn has to offer. Even if you don't use all of LinkedIn's features, you should have a great Profile there, just to keep pace with your competition.


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Recruiters and other hiring authorities routinely search LinkedIn for viable candidates, and even have special applications designed for that purpose. If they don't find you on LinkedIn, they may not find you at all. And if they do find you elsewhere, they may wonder why you're not on LinkedIn. They may wonder whether you're up-to-date and social media-savvy.

Create Your Winning LinkedIn Profile

Merely throwing together your LinkedIn Profile without strategizing its impact on your target audience may render it ineffectual or even a detriment to you.

All-Star LinkedIn ProfileYour Profile needs to be 100% complete ("All-Star" in LinkedIn terms) and contain all the right keywords and phrases, positioned in the right way so that your Profile lands high in search results for those keywords, when the right people are searching for candidates like you. (See LinkedIn's Simple steps to a complete LinkedIn Profile.)

Once these people land on your Profile, it needs to immediately capture and hold their attention, and brand your potential value to them.

The "Professional Experience" section of your resume can be the foundation for the "Experience" section of your LinkedIn Profile, as you'll see below.

Tips by LinkedIn Section

Here are some tips, working down through the various sections, as they stack up at this writing, starting with the main column in the center.

The Box at the Top of Each Profile

The Box at the Top of Each Profile

This is the first section visible when someone visits your Profile page, so this is the part of your Profile that will be seen most often. And the top 3 sections follow your name throughout LinkedIn whenever you share information. Your photo and name are visible whenever you "like" or add a comment.

The numbers below correspond to the numbers in the image above.

  1. Photo

    Choose your photo wisely. This is the first thing people are likely to see when they open your LinkedIn Profile. Go with an appealing photo that strikes the right image and professional tone for your industry and niche. Use the same photo everywhere else online, so people can easily identify you.

    Why is it important to include a photo? It helps generate an emotional connection. For more about this, see my article on branding your online photo.
  2. Name

    Use the version of your name that you use on your business cards and resumes. (See Your Most Important Keywords.)

    Add any relevant certifications after your last name here to boost SEO.
  3. Professional Headline

    This is directly below your name.

    Pump it up with the relevant key words your target audience will be looking for. You can pack quite a punch with the 120 characters allowed.

    Which of these headlines, for the same executive, do you think will make her Profile more searchable and compelling?

    CEO - [Current Company]

          OR

    CEO - Global Operations Change Agent | Entrepreneurial Startups | Crisis, Recovery & Turnaround Management

    The first example is the default headline LinkedIn will give you, based on the information you've completed for your most recent job, if you make no changes. 

    [More - SEO-Friendly LinkedIn Headline.]
  4. Most Recent Job

    Although unlabled in your Profile, LinkedIn will pick up the job title for the job you list first in the Experience section. Add relevant keywords and keyword phrases to your job titles and to your employer's name, as space allows, to boost SEO.
  5. Location and Number of Connections

    Opinions differ on whether it's more important to amass a lot of connections or concentrate on building quality connections. That's up to you, but doesn't it make sense to surround yourself with people you actually know (at least somewhat) and with whom you can build mutually helpful relationships?
  6. LinkedIn Summary

    It's better not to just copy and paste the top part of your resume (or professional summary) here. Generate chemistry in the Summary by showcasing your personality and linking your "softer" skills with your functional areas of expertise (which represent relevant keywords). Let people know right away what differentiates you from your competition. If you have a bio, you can use some information from that.

    You're allowed 2,000 characters in this section. The top 2 lines of your Summary are always visible on your Profile without clicking on the "See more" link, so focus on making those words a strong branding statement.

    Try your best to use all 2,000 characters. More content = more relevant keywords = better potential for being found.

    (See Personal Branding Makes Your LinkedIn Summary Dazzle for more details.)

Articles & Activity

This section is below Your Dashboard and will appear only if you post updates and/or publish articles on the Pulse platform. Click on the "Home" button at the top of your Profile to add content.

On your Home page, you'll see the query "Share an article, photo, video or idea," beside your headline and photo. Your entire network, which in time should become large, will be notified via email whenever you (or anyone else in their network) post an update or make any changes to your Profile.

Regularly posting updates or making changes (say, every week or at least a few times a month) keeps you and your brand top of mind with your network. Updates also represent another opportunity to brand your Profile with relevant key words. Include a link to more about the update, if possible.

(See Keep Your Personal Brand Top-of-Mind with Your LinkedIn Updates for more details.)

Experience

For each job, pump up this section with more details than you could fit in your resume. LinkedIn gives you plenty of space (2,000 characters for each job) to provide more brand-reinforcing, keyword-rich content here for each of your jobs.

(See Top 25 Keywords for You in Your Job Search for ideas about what to include.)

Education

You can copy and paste this information from your resume.

Featured Skills & Endorsements

Pull together a list of your top 50 skills (or areas of expertise), and post them to your Profile in order of importance to your target employers. Then you can reach out to your connections individually and ask them to endorse you to build up your numbers. And you’ll see others you haven’t asked add endorsements to your Profile.

LinkedIn lets you reorder and delete skills. Come back, say, every few months or so, and repeat to keep this section up to date.

(See 4 Steps to Leverage LinkedIn Skills & Endorsements for a More Powerful Profile for more details.)

Recommendations

Keep building up brand and value-reinforcing recommendations within each job you've held. Nothing speaks to your unique value proposition better than what others who know your work best have to say about you.

If they're amenable, it's okay to help them write a brief paragraph or two by providing them a little information about the kinds of positions you're seeking, so that they can align what they write with what hiring decision makers will be looking for.

Interests (LinkedIn Groups)

As you join LinkedIn Groups, this section will fill out. A very powerful LinkedIn feature, Groups help you uncover new networking opportunities, reconnect with your neglected network, demonstrate your subject matter expertise, connect with people at your target companies, and potentially land your next job or business opportunity.

Learn more in my article, "Personal Branding with LinkedIn Groups."

Right Profile Column

The elements below are currently located in the right column of your LinkedIn Profile, starting at the top.

  • Add New Profile Section

    Add New Profile SectionLook for the various other sections you can use in the right sidebar of your Profile, under "Add new profile section," including Publications, Certifications, Courses, Projects, Honors & Awards, Patents, Test Scores, Languages, Organizations in the "Accomplishments" section.
  • Edit public profile & URL

    Edit public profile and URL Personalize your public Profile URL by clicking on "Edit public profile & URL" in the upper right of your Profile. In the right column on the destination page, you will be able to edit your Profile's URL by clicking on the pencil icon. At a minimum, remove the numbers LinkedIn includes for uncustomized URLs which typically look like this -- /in/mary-smith-915223147/ -- before being edited. After editing, it could be /in/mary-smith (if that is available).

    If someone else already has your ideal URL, consider a different version of your name like /in/mary-j-smith, /in/mary-jane-smith, or (if appropriate) /in/mary-smith-mba or /in/mary-smith-accountant. Do not include a number which might look like a birth year, for example, /in/mary-smith-81.
  • Contact and Personal Info

    Contact and Personal InfoThe "Contact and Personal Info" section near the top of the right sidebar of your Profile offers important options for adding more branded content.

    Include links to up to 3 web pages. If you don't have a blog or website, this is a great place to put a link to your online career portfolio, any notable press about you, a white paper you published online, etc. If you're on Twitter or Facebook, and participating in a professional manner, include a link to your profile(s). The idea is to lead people to more brand-reinforcing information about you.

    Also located in your "Contact and Personal Info" are options to add your email address and phone number. (See Be Reachable to Be Hired for more details on safely making contact information visible on your Profile.)

Some General Tips:

  • Pay special attention to all that is visible "above the fold" in your Profile -- whatever is on the screen when you open your Profile. This is what people will see first, and can make or break your chances to be considered. Capture their attention and make them want to scroll down to read your entire Profile.
  • Include a link to your LinkedIn Profile on your resume, along with your contact information at the top. Include a nifty LinkedIn badge in your email signature, on your blog, website, and elsewhere.

Bottom Line

These tips will help you extend the value of your branded resume and bio, while building your online presence and brand reputation. If all of this is beyond your capabilities, consider working with a professional job search strategist who knows how to leverage these tools to best position your unique value proposition.


About the author...

Meg Guiseppi, Job-Hunt's Personal Branding Expert and 20+ year careers industry veteran, has earned 10 certifications, including Reach Certified Personal Branding Strategist, Reach Social Branding Analyst – LinkedIn Profile Strategist, and Certified Executive Resume Master. Meg is the author of "23 Ways You Sabotage Your Executive Job Search and How Your Brand Will Help You Land." Connect with Meg at ExecutiveCareerBrand.com for c-suite personal branding and executive job search help and on Google+ and Twitter (@MegGuiseppi).