Staying connected in the professional world can be difficult while you’re still in college. Using LinkedIn is a great way to establish professional connections and highlight notable accomplishments while working toward your degree. In fact, many professionals would argue the social networking platform is, essentially, becoming the new resume.
“Maintaining a proper LinkedIn page is slowly becoming a requirement,” says Hussein Yahfoufi, vice president of technology and corporate services for OneRoof Energy Inc. He says one of the first things he does when considering a job applicant is look up his or her LinkedIn profile. “If the candidate does not have [one], it is sometimes a red flag in itself,” he adds.
We connected with professionals spanning several industries and locations to identify some handy tips and tricks on leveraging this resource. Keep reading to find out how to improve your LinkedIn profile and catch the eye of enticing employers.
9 expert tips to improve your LinkedIn profile
1. Complete the entire profile
“One of the biggest mistakes that LinkedIn members [make] is that they do not fill out the profile in full,” says Michael Streko, co-founder of Knowem.com. From the personal summary to activities you participate[d] in during college, it’s all important. Citing that first job you held while in high school might seem irrelevant on the surface, but it can show potential employers that you are a hard worker and are able to multitask.
"If your profile is good enough, the jobs will find you!"
“Having a complete, interesting profile shows that [you’re] committed to [your] job search and career,” adds Brittany Berger, digital content supervisor at eZanga.com. “The bare minimum screams, ‘I’m just making a profile because someone said it would help me get a job!’ ” she adds. Upload published work samples if you have them, or link to where employers can find them online. The more they see from you, the better idea they will get of your professional potential.
2. Use a professional headshot
“People, especially employers, want to see what they are getting,” explains Robin Jay, president of the Las Vegas Convention Speakers Bureau.
Bear in mind, this doesn’t have to mean that you go out and pay for a photo session. The most important element here is to be sure that the photo you choose is both professional and recognizable. Keep in mind that LinkedIn photos appear as thumbnails, so try to find a photo that features only your head, neck and shoulders.
3. Focus on your summary
“Your summary is the most important section in your LinkedIn profile by far,” says Joseph Terach, CEO of Resume Deli. He says that unlike your resume summary, employers are looking for some character in your LinkedIn bio. You can highlight your experience and accomplishments while still letting your personality shine through.
4. Make connections
“Connections are the heart of LinkedIn,” says Bob Berchtold, founder of Cubicle Sherpa. “What value is a well-written profile if nobody ever sees it?”
While reaching that ‘500+’ mark can be a notable goal, it is also important to make sure you have a healthy network of relevant connections. “When employers take a closer look at your profile, they will want to see industry movers and shakers, or at least industry-relevant contacts among those you connect with,” suggests Terach. This will reflect your ability to network within your industry, as well as your drive to stay up-to-date on industry news and information.
5. Personalize your URL
“Personalizing your URL will help boost the visibility of your profile in searches for your name, both within LinkedIn itself as well as within Google,” says David Erickson, vice president of online marketing at Karwoski & Courage.
LinkedIn offers users with the ability to claim a unique URL equipped with your name but Erickson says most people don’t take advantage of it. Many employers will search for prospective candidates on Google even before utilizing LinkedIn, which is why he advises you to take advantage of this trick.
6. Optimize your profile for search engines
Increasing your search ranking will undoubtedly make your profile more visible to potential employers and recruiters. Increasing your number of connections is one way to boost your ranking. It’s also important to be mindful of keywords.
“It is important to use words in your profile that could be found in the job description of a position you want,” says Berger. She explains that this will help you appear in the search results when a recruiter is looking.
7. Encourage endorsements
“The more skills that you have endorsements for, the better your profile will look,” Streko says. The first step in doing this is to add relevant skills to your page. Then don’t be afraid to reach out to friends and current or former co-workers to ask for endorsements. Another way to acquire endorsements is to endorse other people.
“If a potential employer sees that you were at a position for 5 plus years and no one commented on your work ethic or the job that you did, it could be a turn off,” Streko adds.
8. Make sure your profile matches your resume
Many of our experts agree that this one is critical. “As an employer, one of the first things I do is compare a candidate’s LinkedIn profile to their resume,” says Alexa D’Agostino, vice president of digital for Black Rhino Solutions, Inc. “You would be shocked at how often they do not match!”
D’Agostino insists you triple-check the dates you have listed under previous employment and the details concerning degrees you’ve earned, because employers will look to see if they match—you don’t want a simple typo to be interpreted as a lie!
9. Update your profile regularly
Once you implement the tips from our experts to polish your profile on LinkedIn, there is still one important element to remember—update your page regularly. Continually establish new connections, list new skills as you learn them and make note of your accomplishments as they happen.
“Waiting to update annually or bi-annually can result in you forgetting some achievement or skill,” says Erik Bowitz, resume expert at Resume Genius. “If you make a habit of updating your profile in real-time, you’ll be sure to maximize your profile’s potential.”
Get out and get noticed!
Joining the ranks of the millions of young professionals on LinkedIn can be intimidating. But apply the tips from our pool of experts can help your profile stand out from the crowd!
“The best reason to maintain a presence on LinkedIn is because if your profile is good enough, the jobs will find you,” Berger says. “Recruiters turn to LinkedIn and will contact you—they may have your dream job that you didn’t even know about!”
So get to work, start polishing that profile and buckle your seatbelt for what’s next!
Now that you know how to improve your LinkedIn profile, check out Rasmussen College’s Career Roadmap to help determine the next step for you and your dream career.