If you're just starting out in a profession, you probably already know that LinkedIn will play an important part in your career. Not only do recruiters check your profile, but even some business or idea competitions consider it important during the initial screening. I'm going to tell you how to perfect your LinkedIn profile; and to help with that, I shall introduce you to Mr Scruffyboots, a person whose LinkedIn profile is everything that yours shouldn't be. His horrendous profile was what inspired me to write this article in the first place.
LinkedIn is a social-media platform. Your profile there is a digital CV on the internet that will help you to network with professionals and maybe get recruited as one. The trick is to build up your LinkedIn profile during your 4 years in university, so that you have a rich, informative profile by the time you enter the job market. 94% of recruiters look you up before hiring you, and you would want your LinkedIn profile to show up when they google you so it looks like you were prepared. Just go to LinkedIn.com, click on “Sign up”, and fill in the necessary information- it's almost like making a Facebook account.
Mr. Scruffyboots had a nice blazer on for his picture, which is a plus, but it looked like he cropped himself out from a wedding photo with his wife from 20+ years ago before he had his 3 kids and pot belly. You don't want that look. Use a recent photo of yourself, with no one else in the frame. Not a selfie, not with your dog, not in front of a photoshopped backdrop and definitely not wearing clothes that you wouldn't wear to work. You don't need it to be grossly artificial or boring either; a simple headshot of you with a good old smile will do the trick.
120 magical words
The “Headline” section is a hidden gem. People usually just type in their job descriptions, but you have 120 words to make yourself as marketable as possible. Be specific! Mr. Scruffyboots would seem a lot more professional if he used “Communications Specialist, XYZ Company” instead of “HR graduate, 2003”. Pro tip: LinkedIn is a search engine too, and the keywords in this section are what people will look up. Specify what field you specialize in, and it can be your tagline.
Compile it right
In the “Summary” section, don't just copy-paste your previous experiences from your resume- there is an entire different section for that, and a separate section to list your skills. You don't want to be another Mr. Scruffyboots and write “I love social networking” in your bio. Sell yourself as a professional. The recruiters want to know you and what you can bring to the table if hired; they don't want another typical bio filled with corporate jargon. Get creative - add a video, be charismatic and spontaneous. Body Language can really make a difference, and people do remember faces better than names.
This section validates your presence in the job market, and proves your credibility. Showcase your talents and skills. Make sure the sources who offered to recommend you are legitimate. Your past experiences/recommendations should provide details that specify exactly the trait you want to project. If you want to highlight your leadership characteristics, post about an event you organized with a team you led. If you want to highlight your designing skills, get a recommendation from a happy client. A glowing, organized, informative recommendation from a kind mentor is more effective than a vague copy-pasted recommendation from your boss. Your skills and accomplishments should stack up so that you come off as a holistic individual with great prospects ahead. The golden rule is “less is more”. Be as concise as possible- don't include unnecessary details. Unlike Mr. Scruffyboots, who thought writing about a three-legged race he won in college would be useful.
The final touches
After you sign up, make sure you add all the information that you're supposed to. Don't leave a section empty. An
incomplete profile is very off-putting for recruiters- it exhibits lack of commitment. It's helpful to have as many people connected to you on LinkedIn as possible, to show off your professional engagement. That doesn't mean adding your friends and family like you do on Facebook – don't add Tumpamoni from the house three blocks down unless she actually adds value to your professional life. Join Alumni groups from school, make groups with people with similar interests- there is a lot to learn from articles posted by others. Keep your profile up to date with each new accomplishment, and re-post articles that relate to your specialties. Don't upload inspirational quotes as articles in your LinkedIn profile like they do on Tumblr. Finally, proofread everything. I'm sure Mr. Scruffyboots' “I lick book reading and travelling” impressed no one. If needed, ask a mentor to check your profile for you.
Susmita is a student of English literature in North South University.