LinkedIn is often described as the Facebook of the professional world, serving as an online place to build your network. Your profile introduces you to potential connections, builds strategic relationships, and markets you to employers by highlighting your skills, education, and employment history. LinkedIn is relatively easy to manage and doesn’t have the typical two-page space limitations that a typical resume has, so you can provide more details about positions. But like a traditional resume, it is still important to be selective about what to include. Below we share how to create a professional profile and offer suggestions on how to get more out of the platform.
TIP: If you don’t want your connections to know that you are updating your profile, change your privacy settings under Me>Settings & Privacy>Privacy>Sharing profile edits.
Upload a polished photo
Your photo is the first thing that a potential connection sees on your profile. Since LinkedIn is a professional networking site, be sure to select a recent, presentable and appropriate (avoid night-out selfies!) photo of yourself. If you don’t have one, a headshot with a clear background is always a safe choice, and remember to smile!
Since LinkedIn is often used to fill roles, keep in mind that HR professionals often spend more time on profiles with a picture so use yours to create a good first impression.
Create an appealing summary
After looking at your photo, your summary is the next thing potential connections will read. Highlight up to five of your applicable achievements to showcase what you are capable of. Think of the summary as a snapshot to keep the potential connection interested in reading the rest of your profile and leave the detail to other sections.
Keep your education and employment history relevant
In the education and employment history sections, you can add detail to complement the summary, but you don’t need to list which middle school you went to, or every single job you have ever had. If you are applying for jobs via LinkedIn, think about the intended position or industry and paint a picture of how you appeal to the organization. For example, if you’re looking to get into the financial department, listing your babysitting job on your profile wouldn’t be appropriate. Instead, showcase your technical experience and interests. This way, employers don’t need to pick through your history to find what is relevant to them.
Getting the most out of LinkedIn
While many people post a profile and leave it, LinkedIn can be much more than an online resume. If you want to get more out of it, try one of these:
- Be active: By actively engaging with others, you can make LinkedIn a valuable resource that showcases some of what you think and can do. Two ways to engage include sharing articles and commenting on what other people share.
- Share updates: Keep your posts specific and positive (LinkedIn is not the place to rant about politics). You might find you become considered a “go-to” person within your network if you make a habit of sharing links to articles that add value to your industry and including one or two sentences about why you are sharing it. Start aiming for one a month.
- Offer, don’t ask: Use LinkedIn to meet new people, learn from them, or give them an opportunity to learn from you without asking for something in return. When you reach out to people, focus on what you can do for them, not what they can do for you. If you use the platform as free advertising space, you’ll likely be disappointed with the results.