Christopher Ruel
Christopher Ruel
Community and Social Marketing, Wiley

shutterstock_206703556_267055411_267055415_256224451.jpgMany people who have a LinkedIn profile think of it as an online resume. Such a view is not wrong, but it is limiting. A well-thought out, optimized profile is powerful, and will reap far more rewards than simply listing out your work experience.

In today’s job market, organizations look at potential employees more holistically. Questions such as, “Will this candidate fit our culture?” and “What motivates or drives this candidate?” have gained importance in hiring decisions. This necessitates moving your presence on LinkedIn from just a list of jobs to a more balanced representation of your aspirations, passions, and personality. Optimizing your profile also highlights important soft skills such as the ability to collaborate, communicate well, and to think critically—all skills that employers desire beyond just technical ability.

Below are four quick ways you can make yourself shine on LinkedIn.

1) Profile Picture — You swinging a golf club or a mirror selfie isn’t the best first impression. More than likely you probably have a friend (or a friend of a friend), who’s a photographer. Ask him or her to take a nice headshot of you. You want the photo to show your shoulders, neck, and head. I suggest wearing a collared shirt for men and a professional-looking top for women. In other words, keep it classy.

OPTIMIZATION TIP: Ask a friend to take a headshot of you, or use a selfie-stick. You don’t have to dress up, but avoid being too casual.

2) Headline — Who are you? That is the question your headline should answer. Your professional title is just that, a title. It doesn’t reflect who you are as a person, an individual. Instead of using your job title in your headline, you should aim to provide a bigger picture in snapshot form.

OPTIMIZATION TIP:
YOU COULD DO THIS: Sales Representative at XYZ, Inc.
BUT THIS IS BETTER: Customer-centric sales professional who has helped hundreds of businesses just like yours by providing excellent value, prompt service, and in-depth industry knowledge.

3) Summary Paragraph — This is where you can expand upon your headline. Many LinkedIn users will utilize this space to brag about their accomplishments. You will see things like, “Made sales goal eight out of nine
years; President’s Club Member, etc.” Those are great accomplishments, but an optimized profile will provide a more well-rounded representation of who you are, what you do, and what motivates you.

OPTIMIZATION TIP: Write about who you are and what motivates you. Share a story as an example of your work philosophy. Don’t forget that a human is on the other side of the screen reading your profile; by including hobbies and personal pursuits you can connect with people and highlight your abilities, too. Don’t be shy — your profile is meant to showcase you!

4) Recommendations — Don’t confuse LinkedIn endorsements with recommendations. LinkedIn endorsements are good, but recommendations are better. The person writing the recommendation has to be specific about why you’re great. Any LinkedIn member you are connected with can endorse you, but you must ask for a recommendation. Recommendations are powerful because others are vouching for, and attesting to, your skills and abilities.

OPTIMIZATION TIP: Ask at least three people to write a recommendation for you. Clients can provide the best recommendations, but don’t forget about colleagues, managers, and others with whom you have worked.

Image credit: dolphfyn/Shutterstock