10 Steps to Create an Effective LinkedIn Profile
Aug 12th 2022
Why Creating an Effective LinkedIn Profile Is So Crucial For Your Professional Development.
Launched in 2003, LinkedIn has modest beginnings. It originally started as a platform for professionals to connect for strictly professional contacts. Today, especially ever since Microsoft bought the company in 2016, it has become the to-go-to place for professional networking and professional development online.
Today, you can still connect with other professionals via LinkedIn. However, now, you can also look for a new job, find top professionals of all sorts, exchange resumes, and learn new skills to enhance your repertoire of professional competencies.
Companies search for talent on LinkedIn and often let their Hiring Managers scout for candidates via LinkedIn rather than reaching out to expensive private recruitment agencies. Startup founders search for business partners, from co-founders to private investors. Consultants look for their new clients.
Networking is crucial to your professional success. To read more about the top 10 reasons why, please take a look at our article “10 Good Reasons To Build Efficient Networking Strategies and Treat Networking as a Mindset.”
Since LinkedIn has become the to-go-to place for professionals, presenting yourself in a good light on the platform is crucial to your professional development. And your LinkedIn presence primarily means your professional profile.
Before we get into “how to build a great profile,” you should understand “the why.” As a person selling your skills in the professional world, you should know the value of personal branding and self-marketing.
No matter what kind of industry you work in and how good you are, you likely aren’t the only one putting yourself out there. This means that you need something in your profile to set you apart. A “uniquely you” profile is one of the best ways to attract and impress the right people, build credibility, and present the benefits of connecting with you.
In this article, we will go through 10 basic steps to creating an effective LinkedIn profile. This is LinkedIn 1.0.1.: the basics that every LinkedIn user should know!
Why The Top Of Your LinkedIn Profile Is So Crucial.
Many professionals spend most of the time creating comprehensive descriptions of their skills, and professional and educational history and still experience no success in job search via LinkedIn… because they fail at making a good first impression — and you can only make the first impression once!
Remember that the top of your profile — your banner, profile picture, and job title — is like a business card. Visitors to your profile will see this information first. And, based on this information, they will decide if they even want to see the rest of your profile.
Therefore, use this free ad space to the maximum of your abilities! Capture the attention of the person who visits your profile. Use the banner space to showcase your professional mission. Describe your profession and job role precisely in the title. Make sure your contact information is up to date. Encourage visitors to contact you directly!
The first five steps of this tutorial relate to this first impression. If you have these steps sorted out well, you will experience an increased traffic on your profile straight away!
Step #1 To an Effective LinkedIn Profile: Your Name.
The first and most important part of your LinkedIn profile is your name. Yes, your name! Many professionals miss out on a huge opportunity here. For instance, they skip their professional title, hoping that the visitor will scroll down their profile and discover that they are highly educated by themselves. Well, this might never happen!
Therefore, if you happen to hold a PhD, MD, MBA, or some other formidable professional title, add it right next to your name! You could introduce yourself as “John Smith, MD” or “Ana Brown, PhD, MBA.” This is pure information and has nothing to do with bragging!
Step #2 To an Effective LinkedIn Profile: Your Profile Photo.
The first element of your “first impression” on LinkedIn is your profile picture. Your profile pic is the first object a human eye is drawn to when they see your profile. You should put some thought into your photo — and it shouldn’t be just a random selfie or an informal picture where you are surrounded by other people.
Think of what you want to communicate to the people looking at your profile. Do you want to seem professional? Whimsical? Funny? Anything you want to say can be told through a good profile picture. The standard choice is your face (or a logo, if it’s a profile representing an organization).
As a rule of thumb, it is worth investing in a professional shot. At the end of the day, it is a one-time expenditure that will generate traffic on your professional profile for the years to come. Remember, every click is in fact worth $5-15! In Figure 1, you can find a few examples of strong versus weak profile photos for your LinkedIn profile.
Figure 1 Examples of optimal versus suboptimal profile photos. A: Artistic and eye-catchy but too much makeup and skin. B: It is hard to recognize the face from this angle. C: Photo too dark. D: Photo zoomed too close. E: Too strong emotions. F: Photo black-and-white. G: Background too casual. H: Photo is too casual and doesn’t look professional. I, J, K, L: Examples of strong profile photos.
Step #3 To an Effective LinkedIn Profile: Your Badge.
Furthermore, if you happen to be looking for a job at the moment, please remember to put the “Open To Work” badge on your profile photo. There is no shame in openly admitting that you are searching for a job. And if you interact with other professionals with that badge put on your profile, your chances of getting noticed as a potential employee skyrocket from the get-go.
And of course, before you decide to place the badge on your profile, it is better to make sure that your employer knows about your plans of finding another job! But watch out: if you are not on good terms with your boss, you can tweak settings on your LinkedIn profile so that only professional recruiters are able to see your badge!
If you are not looking for a job, you can use one of the other badges, for instance, the badge “Open To Business” which means that you offer certain professional services. If that’s the case, then consequently, you should also create the “Services” profile on LinkedIn and ask your former clients for (favorable!) reviews.
The nice aspect of this option is that you won’t be prompted to put a price tag on your services offered on LinkedIn. This also means that the clients will likely contact you because of YOU, not the competitive prices that you offer. Please find more information about starting a side-kick consultancy business in our article “How To Launch a Side-Kick Consultancy Business — Right Here, Right Now?”
Step #4 To an Effective LinkedIn Profile: Your Banner.
Similarly, there is an option for setting a banner photograph or graphics. Many professionals overlook this opportunity to self-advertise. They either leave the banner space blank or use a random photograph that doesn’t relate to their professional mission in any way.
However, this is an important part of your profile! Your profile visitors will notice your banner right after they take a look at your face — before they ever scroll down looking for the details about your professional story. Your banner should encourage the visitors to enter your world, scroll down your profile, and learn more about you.
Therefore, you should use a picture that will reinforce your personal brand as well. Successful professionals often focus on their professional mission on the banner. They choose photographs or graphics that best explain what is important to them in their professional lives. Good examples of such mission-driven LinkedIn profiles are the pages of Oprah Winfrey or Sir Richard Branson.
But of course, you can also add a headline that explains your mission or vision and links to your professional website or your company’s website. Don’t hope that the visitors will get the idea of what you do or want in your professional life given a vague pic shot from the depths of the lab you work for, or taken at some random event you participated in.
If your graphics do not speak for themselves, just tell the story! You can use a sense of humor here. For instance, if you are interested in space research, then next to the photos related to space and your equipment, you can use your sense of humor and add the words:
“Space — the coolest place for research!”
(referring to the fact that the background temperature in space is close to absolute zero),
Or, if you are a realtor, then next to photos of properties and.or your happy clients, you can add:
“Better call Anna!”
Step #5 To an Effective LinkedIn Profile: Your Job Title.
The next and last element of the key part of your profile is your professional title, introduced in the headline of your profile. This is the description of who you are as a professional, or rather, how you perceive yourself.
Mind that you don’t need to choose your profession or position from a predefined list. You are given full artistic freedom concerning how you describe yourself as a professional. You also have a character limit that allows you to add a few roles or professions at a time — you don’t need to choose just one expression to describe yourself.
Many professionals wrongly assume that in the headline, they must type in the title of their current position, This is not even true. If you are planning for a career leap, it is often a better idea to introduce yourself taking into account the market sector you want to join, rather than the market sector in which you currently work. This will make you more noticeable to the recruiters in your sector of interest.
For instance, let’s assume that you are currently an academic researcher and yet, you dream of a role of a Data Scientist in industry. You have never held such a role before, but you would like to signal to the recruiters that you are open to such positions. Without lying of course!
In that case, you could call yourself a “Data Specialist with a Research Background” or a “Data Scientist With a PhD in the Science of Nanomaterials,” or an “Expert in Data Science with a PhD Degree in the Science of Nanomaterials.”
The generic keyword “expert” is useful here because it indicates professional excellence but at the same time, it does not point to any particular function such as a “specialist” or a “manager.” This makes the use of this keyword very flexible and convenient.
Step #6 To an Effective LinkedIn Profile: Your Personal Contact Information.
The next important yet often overlooked part of your LinkedIn profile is your contact information. Just make sure that you are easy to find — also outside of LinkedIn. If you have any other active social media profiles, such as Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, it is good to link them on your LinkedIn.
After all, recruiters interested in inviting you to apply for a job will be willing to browse for your presence online and examine your Public Relations under the magnifying glass anyway. So, why not make this job easy for them in the first place?
Once you become a little bit more advanced in using LinkedIn, you might also check out other features that add a nice touch to your profile such as custom URLs, recording your name pronunciation, and creator mode.
Step #7 To an Effective LinkedIn Profile: Your “About” Section.
Furthermore, please also fill in your “About” section. This is a place for your summary as a professional. You can use this space to write a paragraph or two of a bio, summarizing your mission as a professional, your background, and key skills and competencies. Please make sure that the blocks of text are not too massive — chop them into 2-3 sentence paragraphs. Text organized this way reads much better.
While polishing your “About” section, think about your goals. It’s good to underscore your interest in the branch of industry that you aim to join and list all the projects that (even remotely) relate to projects in that industry.
Moreover, while looking for the right words to describe yourself in your “About” section, consider the keywords someone might use to search for a service like yours or a person like you. A wonderful tool for finding popularly searched words is Wordtracker. Just type in a topic and check the related search words. Then, all you need to do is to sprinkle in a few of those keywords into your profile — and you are quickly and easily cut above the rest.
Also, recruiters certainly don’t look for people who are in love with themselves!
Therefore, try not to sound too braggy in your “About” section. For instance, instead of naming yourself “an excellent writer,” you might just call yourself “a passionate writer” and link to your pieces of writing and their enthusiastic reviews.
You can also use this space to add more contact information — everything that you didn’t manage to squeeze into the “Contact Information” section. You can also use emoticons to draw attention to the most important points of your bio, such as the link to your personal website which you would wish recruiters to visit.
Step #8 To an Effective LinkedIn Profile: Your Employment History.
An obvious next step to fill in your LinkedIn profile like a pro is filling in your “Employment History” section. The good news is: if you have a well-composed resume, then technically, you could copy-paste the paragraphs from your resume straight to your “Employment History” sections on LinkedIn. If not — well, some work ahead of you!
One important aspect to remember is that your position titles are meaningless to the recruiters. Every organization has different rules for naming positions so this is nothing else than nomenclature. To give the recruiter a real feel for what you did and accomplished in a given position, you need to describe your position or role in a few sentences: introduce your scope of duties as well as methods or approaches that you used working at this position.
Step #9 To an Effective LinkedIn Profile: Your Education History.
Similarly, you need to make sure that your education history section is complete and contains all the study programs that you pursued. Remember to also explain what you DID during every study program.
As a rule of thumb, it is also a good practice to add the thesis title to every study program that ended with a thesis defense. After all, every thesis is a product of your creativity and might be of interest to recruiters in certain circumstances.
Step #10 To an Effective LinkedIn Profile: Your Skills.
Lastly, an essential part of your LinkedIn profile is your “Skills” section. Also, once you figure out what your core competencies are, they should be mentioned in your LinkedIn profile description as “Skills” one by one.
Making sure that your “Skills” list is comprehensive and well describes you, is in your best interest. Labeling your skills will make it so much easier for the right people to find you!
Especially when you are in the process of looking for an industry job, mentioning those of your transferable skills that recruiters often search for—such as orientation on teamwork or the ability to finish projects on time (of course, as long as it is true!) — will certainly help.
Furthermore, please make sure that next to your hard skills, you also mention your soft, inter-, and intra-personal skills. Remember that your next employer can take time and effort to train you and track your new professional skill, but they won’t be able to change your mentality or personality. This is why your soft skills are so essential to them.
*Extra Elements In Your LinkedIn Profile.
Some additional elements are less essential as a part of your core LinkedIn profile. However, you might still consider adding these elements to your profile as they bring even more detail to your picture as a professional and might additionally encourage recruiters to contact you.
To mention just a few of them:
1. Elevator pitch / video clip.
LinkedIn Premium now gives an option to link a 60-second video that will play any time a visitor puts a cursor on Your profile photo. That gives you a chance to make the first impression as a professional and encourages the recruiters to contact you. If you decide to go for it — don’t forget to smile in the video!
An essential aspect of building your profile is gaining credibility. No one wants to hire someone who has a half-baked profile. And, LinkedIn is nothing more than a self-advertising platform. Therefore, the same as with advertising for products and services, when it comes to building credibility on LinkedIn, there is no better publicity than the praise-filled words of the people you have already worked or connected with before.
LinkedIn has a recommendations feature that was made for this exact purpose. Collecting recommendations from professionals that you have worked with before can demonstrate to others that you are a trusted specialist in what you do. The more recommendations the better — but three or four are enough for the start.
Yet another element you might think of adding to your profile, are Projects. You might be thinking: why do I need to add projects if I already showcase all my positions to date
Well, in many situations, adding projects is beneficial. This is true especially if you spent many years in one and the same position. Just imagine that you had the same professional title at the same employer for 12 years or so!
In that case, it would be highly valuable to explain to potential future employers what you accomplished working in this position by listing the most interesting or the most successful of your projects. Of course, similarly to listing your past positions, the title of the project is not enough — you need to add the description of your role in each project!
4. Your volunteer experience.
Your volunteer experience might matter in certain circumstances, for instance when the organization you worked with happens to partner with the employer interested in you. Or, if the recruiter happens to be interested in the same topics as you.
Remember that recruiters are also people, and they are influenced by their human emotions. For instance, if the recruiter browsing through your profile happens to be a dog lover and notices that you worked for a dog shelter, they will immediately start thinking warmly of you.
Of course, volunteer experience also matters when it comes to working for non-profit organizations. If this is the type of employment you are interested in, you should add any volunteer experience you have ever had to your profile.
You can also add independent courses and training programs that you took next to your official education. This is a sign of your proactive behavior when it comes to building your professional skills as will certainly score you a few additional points.
One option often overlooked by job hunters is Causes. This section is very quick to fill in. What you need to do is choose topics interesting to you from a predefined list. Adding courses to your price will take you a minute or two, and it will show the recruiter what societal problems are close to your heart.
Again, if the recruiter resonates with your causes, they will immediately think higher of you. Your causes also are a sign of integrity. To find more information on what integrity means and why it is a quality essential for employers, please check our article “Why Is It Good To Have Integrity in Your Professional Life and Why Do Employers Seek Integrity?”
7. Content: original posts and LinkedIn articles.
Lastly, especially if you aim for senior and executive roles, it is great if you demonstrate your leadership skills by writing at least a few LinkedIn posts or LinkedIn articles and linking them to your profile in the “Featured” section. In this way, you will show the recruiters that you not only have professional skills but also independent opinions and expertise to educate and lead junior employees.
Conclusion: How To Create an Effective LinkedIn Profile and Stand Out?
To conclude, it is worth spending a weekend creating a compelling LinkedIn profile. Moreover, writing an effective LinkedIn profile is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration. You don’t need to be a poet to create a compelling profile — it is enough to be factual, precise, and create a comprehensive picture of yourself as a professional. With the tips given above in your hand, creating a kick-ass profile on LinkedIn is almost algorithmic!
Remember to always think from the perspective of a recruiter. They are also people and they extrapolate trying to predict what type of person you are based on your profile. They will only get encouraged to stay at your profile and read it till the end if it looks welcoming and professional, as they want to hire kind and diligent people. It really is that simple.
And in case you are not sure how your profile looks and feels to the reader, you can always ask your friends. Find yourself sparing partners: other professionals who are also looking for jobs at the moment and who might be willing to comment on your profile, in an exchange for commenting on their profile. This would be mutually beneficial and helpful to all of you.
Good luck with creating a compelling LinkedIn profile! Please check also our article “Top 11 Rules For Effective Networking on LinkedIn.”
If you need more tips on how to land a great job, please check out our comprehensive manual “How To Self-Navigate in the Job Market and Shine At The Job Interviews” which will guide you through the whole job application process, from building your personal brand online, through applying for jobs, to passing job interviews with flying colors.
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