The first thing that’s going to jump out at a recruiter when they visit your LinkedIn profile page is the “headline” just under your name.
Your LinkedIn headline is important because it tells the world — including recruiters — how you see yourself professionally.
If you want to get hired into software development jobs, for instance, you won’t choose the LinkedIn profile “Results-oriented professional.”
If you do, most recruiters will skip right past your profile even if they’d conducted a keyword search on the most common software-development terms and your profile looked like a match.
They’d be looking for your LinkedIn headline to indicate that you do software development.
They wouldn’t care if you called yourself a software developer, a coder or a programmer, but they’d be hesitant to explore your profile if you didn’t somehow make it clear that you do software development.
So your number one priority is a clear LinkedIn headline!
For jobs where you’ll be interacting with clients, your profile photo is very important too. For any position, it’s important to have a LinkedIn profile photo that looks like you, looks professional and presents you as someone who could walk into a business job and rock it.
However, if you’re applying for a job where you’ll mostly stay in the back office or the lab, most recruiters are not going to obsess about your photo. If you’re pursuing people-centric job like a sales roles, your profile photo has to make it clear that you’re friendly and engaging.
Smile for the camera!
The third thing to pay attention to in your LinkedIn profile is your Summary. That’s the paragraph or set of paragraphs that appear at the top of your LinkedIn profile, under your photo and above your career history.
Use a human voice in your Summary to make it clear right away what you do professionally and either why or how you do it. Don’t make your Summary so general that you look like you don’t know what you want to do professionally.
The worst kind of LinkedIn Summary is the kind that sounds like a robot wrote it, rather than a human being:
“Motivated self-starter with a bottom-line orientation and proven track record of success.”
Anybody could say that! Come out from behind the fake-business language and tell your story in your own voice, instead:
“I was a Finance person for ten years before moving into Sales. Now I sell enterprise software to midsized businesses by helping them understand how my company’s products improve their bottom line.”
As you can see, your Summary can either help you stand out as a candidate — or blend in with the crowd — and that’s what you don’t want to do!
The fourth thing to check in your LinkedIn profile is your career history. Make sure you’ve included all the major stories and accomplishments from each of your past jobs.
The fifth thing to upgrade in your LinkedIn profile is your Skills listing. You pick the Skills you want to be endorsed for, and your friends will endorse you for them. Make sure you include every skill you want recruiters to know you possess!
The sixth thing that matters in your LinkedIn profile is your education and professional credentials. Make sure that every certification, training program and professional designation appears somewhere on your profile.
The seventh element recruiters will look at in your profile is your set of recommendations. If no one has recommended you yet, you need to get busy writing recommendations for the people you know. The best way to collect new LinkedIn recommendations is to recommend other people.
The eighth piece of your LinkedIn profile to attend to is your professional organizations. If you belong to an industry body, it’s because you care about the topic. Sing it loud and proud! List your professional associations in your profile and keep them up to date.
The ninth thing to check in your LinkedIn profile is your enhancements. You can upload images, presentations, videos and documents to flesh out your profile and let the world know what you’ve accomplished at your current or past jobs.
You must have a portfolio of materials to share by now. Upload those suckers to LinkedIn and they will help tell your story.
The last thing to do before you consider your LinkedIn profile complete is to look at the size of your network.
The more first-degree connections you have, the more easily you’ll be found on LinkedIn. Why not invite a few of your friends and colleagues (or ex-colleagues, ex-schoolmates or professional contacts) to connect to you right now?
If you want one more LinkedIn to-do item, write a blog post. That will grow your muscles and mojo, grow your network and get recruiters to notice you, all in one fell swoop!