For both job seekers and job fillers, LinkedIn has become an essential tool. On one single page, an employee can share everything they have to offer, and an employer can get a quick snapshot of their potential. But it’s not good enough simply to have a LinkedIn profile. Whether you’re actively looking for a new position or enjoying your current one, keeping your page up-to-date and complete deserves as much effort as the rest of your social media presence – perhaps even more.
You may have seen profiles in which the user lists their name and current position and nothing else. You can tell right away that they’re not doing themselves many favors by offering that little information. More is, without a doubt, better. But you also need to be judicious about what you do offer. Facebook and Instagram are for your true self; LinkedIn is for your best self. Here are some fixes you can make to your profile today:
1. Use the same name you use when making job applications.
On other social media platforms, you can feel free to use a middle name, a nickname, or a spouse’s surname that you have assumed without having your own formally changed. On LinkedIn, you should use your legal name. Even if you plan to ask your employer to call you something else, it is easier for everyone if you use the name on your Social Security card, your passport, and your bank card. This will eliminate any confusion that may come from an employer receiving an application with one name and clicking on a LinkedIn profile with another.
2. Use a professional-looking picture.
Unless you’re working in a field where a specific look counts – fashion, beauty, fitness, performing arts, and the like – an employer should be able to imagine your LinkedIn look in a job interview setting. That means a businesslike outfit and a clearly visible, confident-looking face. The quality of the photography matters as well, to give viewers a sense of the pride you take in your self-presentation. Invest in a set of headshots taken by a professional photographer. These will be helpful later if you need to submit a photo for a company intranet or a public-facing event.
3. Turn your headline into a mini-elevator pitch.
Many users default to “[title] at [company]” when writing their headline. That tells employers what you’re doing right now, but it doesn’t tell them who you really are and what else might interest you. Instead, find a way to sum up your unique selling proposition – the talent that makes you stand out in a crowd of job seekers – in one short sentence. Think about how you’ve answered interview questions like “Tell me about yourself” or “Why should we hire you?” If you can think of an answer that has impressed hiring managers, that could be an excellent choice for your LinkedIn headline.
4. Post new content regularly.
To draw eyes to your profile on a consistent basis, give your network a glimpse of what it’s like to work with you. Share photos and videos of your most recent accomplishments. Write articles about your thoughts on new developments in your field. Post links that encourage discussion among your connections. Include the best samples of your work in your Publications section, or link to a separate portfolio. If you want to get the most mileage out of LinkedIn, remember that it is a social media platform, and it offers lots of opportunities to socialize with new contacts.
5. Add your contact information.
You can make all of the above changes and more, but they won’t matter if there’s no way for an employer or recruiter to connect with you except via your LinkedIn inbox, which isn’t especially convenient for either of you. Make sure to list the same e-mail address and phone number that you use for job applications. And don’t just leave these for the bottom of your page; include them in your summary, with some snappy text encouraging the reader to get in touch with you. Make it as easy as possible for someone to do something with the interest your improved profile has generated.