Updated: January 2021
LinkedIn is no longer an optional part of job searching or career development. If you are a working professional (or hoping to be one soon) you must have a LinkedIn profile. Furthermore you must have a profile that is optimized in order to stand out amongst LinkedIn’s millions of members. There are a few key profile parts you should focus on in order to optimize your profile. In this blog post we will share the top 3 profile parts and an example of a profile that landed an interview in just 48 hours.
How to Know Where to Start When it Comes to LinkedIn
If you’ve been in the job search lately, you know LinkedIn is mandatory. Without a LinkedIn profile you are not maximizing your chances of being found for your next job. While you may be aware of this, you might be wondering how exactly to experience job search success using this particular tool. You may even be feeling overwhelmed at the thought of all LinkedIn has to offer. Where to start? What LinkedIn activities are most important? Should you be spending more time on LinkedIn than your resume? If you’re struggling with a bunch of questions, don’t worry. It’s normal. LinkedIn can feel a bit overwhelming but the key is to keep it simple. (Isn’t that the key to everything)? The best place to start on LinkedIn is with your profile. So let’s start there.
Why You Should Focus on Your LinkedIn Profile First
Your LinkedIn profile is your first impression when others find you. How do you want to be perceived by hiring managers, recruiters, and other target industry contacts? This should be the driving force behind your profile branding. I know it may seem tempting to start connecting with your industry peers and recruiters, but you’ll want to refrain from this until you have your profile optimized. You don’t want your first impression to be the last impression you make when they land on your profile. Another reason profile optimization is so important is that of search engine optimization or SEO. You need to make sure you are appearing in search results. Otherwise no amount of recruiters, hiring managers, or industry contacts will find you.
Should You Start with Your LinkedIn Profile Before the Resume?
While the resume is important, I need to caution you so you don’t experience what could be a major job search oversight. You don’t want to rely 100% on your resume. Yes, it’s one tool in your job search but it’s not the only tool that can help you land a job. LinkedIn is equally as important as your resume. I would even dare to say MORE important. Here’s why: As a former Executive Recruiter I can tell you that 100% of recruiters, employers, and HR folks are searching LinkedIn right now for their next hire. If you’re not fully optimized, they will never find you. That’s a fact. If your LinkedIn profile isn’t getting hits or landing interviews, it may be time to add that to the ol’ to-do list.
Do You Need a LinkedIn Premium Account to Make Your Profile Stand Out?
The short answer is “no.” I’ve blogged about why I do not recommend a LinkedIn Premium account but basically, it’s not worth it. It won’t give you an edge in terms of your profile search ability. It also won’t influence hiring managers or recruiters any more or less. So save the money or put them towards a more robust LinkedIn and job search support service like my Job Search Accelerator (shameless plug I know, but my members love it)!
An Example of a Strong LinkedIn Profile
To give you a big head start, I’m sending a sample LinkedIn profile from one our star clients below. The reason we know the profile is strong, is because it landed our client an interview within 48 hours of applying. If your profile is attracting people and causing them to connect/invite you to interview, you’re on the right track. We pride ourselves in being LinkedIn pros so you can imagine how thrilled we were to receive his note shortly after we gave him a LinkedIn Makeover:
“I’m already through my first interview with a company that found me 2 days after I updated my new LinkedIn profile.” – Tom, Operations Executive & LinkedIn Makeover Client
Below is his profile so you can get a sense of our strategy and incorporate it into yours. I have included the visuals as well as some writing strategy tips to correspond with the most valuable profile parts.
Focus on These 4 Key LinkedIn Profile Parts
While LinkedIn offers a lot of bells and whistles for your profile, it’s important to not be distracted. Focus on the 4 parts that have the power to make the biggest impact. Then, you can add more parts/features once the core profile is complete. The 4 most valuable LinkedIn parts in terms of written branding and SEO are:
- The LinkedIn Headline
- The LinkedIn Summary or About Section
- Your Job Title
- The Experience Section
Keep reading as I will break each part down into more detail below. However, I should mention that there is one non-written LinkedIn part that are super important and that is the LinkedIn profile photo. If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile photo your profile will not attract or engage very many folks at all. If you need help with your LinkedIn photo including examples, check out my advice here. The background photo or banner is less important. As long as you have a strong LinkedIn profile photo you will be in good shape.
1. Start With Your LinkedIn Headline
Aside from your LinkedIn photo, the headline is the most important part of your LinkedIn profile because it is what recruiters see first when you are returned in the list of search results. The headline is what will compel them to either click on your profile or pass you up for the competition. LinkedIn gives you 120 characters for the headline. In 2020 that number was upped to 220 characters. Its to your benefit to maximize the character amount in order to convey a strong brand. Since most professionals aren’t professional branders or writers, having a good LinkedIn video tutorial can save a lot of time and anxiety.
2. Write a Robust Summary or About section
After you have a strong headline, scroll down to the About section. It has also been called the Summary section in the past. The About section may seem like a standard executive bio but it is so much more and requires some careful branding. To learn more about the importance of the Summary section check out another blog post I wrote. In our superstar client’s example, notice how we max out the About section by using all the characters. It’s about 2,000 characters in total. Maxing out characters is important because every single space is an opportunity to use strategic keywords. By using strong keywords, you will be more likely to appear in more searches – increasing your chances of being found and contacted by the right people. This section is also key for giving your profile visitors a glimpse into who you are as a professional, and what makes you unique – and the best person for your target job!
3. The Experience Section
As you continue to scroll down the profile you will come across the Experience section. While this section may feel like a resume in terms of content, this section is not a resume copy/paste. In this section you want to use as many characters as you can to really convey a job summary and specific job accomplishments. You also will need to focus on using strong keywords to boost your profile SEO or searchability.
4. The Job Title
Last but not least is the Job Title within the Experience section. While a Job Title might sound fairly straightforward, LinkedIn gives you 100 characters. As a rule of thumb, we want to max out the character limits to improve SEO. Therefore you will add strong keywords onto your job title, to concisely explain what you do. For example, you’ll see that our client’s title is Vice President of Operations. We include the formal job title for accuracy purposes. Then, with the additional characters, we expand into his high-level role/responsibility for the organization. VP of Operations is a very vague term so we need to help the reader know exactly what type of work our client does. Therefore we expand into his responsibility for process improvement and employee retention. This will help recruiters better determine whether or not you are a fit.
Once you have these 4 profile parts optimized, you are on your way to making some serious progress on LinkedIn. The profile is half the battle. The key is getting it right. If you’re not a branding expert or are struggling with your LinkedIn brand, it is well worth the investment to hire a professional LinkedIn writer. This will pay-off in the future by making you appear in more searches, increasing your network, and creating more career prospects.
If you’re hoping to improve your LinkedIn profile strategy and land a job in record time, check out the Job Search Accelerator. In this budget-friendly job landing community you’ll have access to all of Noelle’s expert resources including a FREE resume review, optimized resume and cover letter templates, networking scripts and templates, LinkedIn optimization courses, interview answer scripts and more – everything you need to feel confident, navigate the job search successfully, and put your best foot forward as an applicant.