Do you know how to create an effective LinkedIn profile?
Even LinkedIn veterans often fail to incorporate some of the most basic principles, making them appear like novices on the LinkedIn platform.
This episode explains how to search for and incorporate keywords into your LinkedIn profile, craft a strong headline, customize your profile URL, and much more.
Steps to Create an Effective LinkedIn Profile
1. Research and Identify Keywords
When I first start working with a client who is doing a job search, they often want to start by writing a resume. That isn’t the first step.
Before we do anything, we look at job descriptions for positions that interest them.
Job postings include important keywords, skills, and experiences.
Identifying the right keywords is the best way to create an effective LinkedIn profile.
Start to identify keywords by looking at the job description for your current position.
If you are on the job market, find job postings you want to apply for.
It may be helpful to scan several postings for similar positions.
Compare a few different advertisements for similar positions to get a comprehensive view of knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) to highlight.
And don’t forget, LinkedIn is a job search board.
Enter the position you’re looking for into the search bar to get a list of openings.
You can also look at the ‘People Also Searched For’ section to find related key terms you may not have previously considered.
As you review position descriptions, identify keywords yourself or paste the text into a wordcloud generator which will analyze the data and identify the most common words used.
Wordclouds.com and worditout.com are two effective word cloud generators I recommend.
Once you know the keywords you need to emphasize, incorporate them into your Linkedin profile in the headline, skills section, under your experiences, and in the About narrative.
2. Write a Comprehensive Headline
The biggest mistake most people make on LinkedIn is using the default headline.
The LinkedIn algorithm automatically lists your current position as your headline. But you can change your headline to whatever you want.
It’s good to have your current position in your headline, but you should also incorporate keywords to explain who you are as a professional.
Include keywords a recruiter would search to find someone like you.
Some examples of good headlines that go beyond the individual’s current role include:
You can (and should!) include up to 220 characters in your headline.
3. Thoughtfully List Skills to Demonstrate Your Expertise
Towards the bottom of your LinkedIn profile is a dedicated Skills section.
You can list up to 50 skills, but I suggest limiting it to 10 to 20 skills to avoid diluting the list.
The most important thing to remember when including skills is to list them in order of importance.
Only your top three skills are visible on your profile page.
Anyone who wants to see your additional skills needs to click on the Show More button which will expand the section, showing all your skills.
Select your top three skills carefully because most people won’t bother to click Show More and read further.
Also, since the top 3 skills are always available, those are the ones people are most likely to endorse you for.
Skill endorsements are valuable because it shows other people agree you have expertise in these areas.
4. Designate Your Name, But Leave Out Additional Details
As a rule, the LinkedIn name field should only contain your name.
Occasionally people include titles in the name field which is a violation of LinkedIn policy and redundant if the title is in the headline.
If you use a nickname or shortened form of your full name, feel free to designate that so you can be more easily found when someone searches for you.
If you have an English name in addition to your official birth name, list both. You can also include your maiden and married name.
Some people like to include their qualifications (i.e. JD, MBA, Ph.D.), but it is not necessary. If you elect to list abbreviated qualifications, don’t go overboard. List the most important designation, or two, at most.
Finally, you may choose to include a salutation or honorific (i.e. Pastor or Mayor), but they are not used extensively on LinkedIn. Again, these are typically most appropriate in the headline.
5. Select a Specific Location
Set your location to a specific city. Leaving it general, for instance, a country, can work against you.
When recruiters search for potential candidates, they filter results by city and anyone without that exact city is eliminated.
What if you are looking to relocate?
If you are confident are moving and know where, you can change your location to the new city.
But be prepared to explain the discrepancy if a recruiter contacts you and suggests you come into the office for an interview on short notice.
6. Update Your Contact Information and Digital Media Frequently
Keep your relevant contact information and email address current.
You can also include links to websites and your other social profiles.
Include a link to your employer’s website under each position in the Experience section. This allows hiring managers to get a better idea of where you’ve worked, especially if it was a small business or regional company.
If you have work posted online, such as articles you’ve written or media mentions, include links in the Featured section. This serves as an unofficial, but useful, portfolio so employers can see what you’ve accomplished.
7. Edit Your Profile URL
Finally, change the URL for your profile to a custom URL.
Customizing your URL shows you know how to use LinkedIn effectively and makes it easier to hyperlink your URL in the signature line of your email or on your resume.
LinkedIn has grown at an exponential rate in recent years and is predicted to continue doing so. Creating an effective profile will help you establish yourself and start using the platform more quickly.
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Next Episode: Writing Your LinkedIn About Section.