How to make the most of your LinkedIn Profile

LinkedIn is the world’s leading online professional directory of individuals and companies, but more than that it has become an invaluable tool for networking, job searching and personal branding. When someone googles you it is more than likely that your LinkedIn profile will appear in the first or second spot on the results page and as such it is important to keep your profile as relevant and up to date as possible.

Our recent survey highlighted the importance of LinkedIn as a source of job opportunities. Many companies actively recruit on LinkedIn while recruiters are constantly trawling, on the lookout for passive candidates. Even if you are settled in your job LinkedIn is an avenue for recruiters to contact you regarding suitable (or better) career opportunities.

How can I get the edge on my LinkedIn profile?

1) Update your photo

Keep it recent, professional, and recognisable. As most people have their profile photo in colour, making yours black & white will help you to stand out from the crowd.

2) Customise your headline

It is crucial that you tailor your headline to include your most important keywords so that you can be found by the right people.

3) Adjust your summary

Try to imagine your summary from the point of view of a prospective employer viewing it. It is an opportunity to present and sell yourself. In a market where so many people compete for the same roles filling out a summary can give you an edge with a prospective employer. You can also use your LinkedIn profile to highlight anything that does not fit in, or had to be left out of, your CV

4) Insert contact instructions

Don’t assume other LinkedIn users are as proficient with the site as you are. Be clear and share a link with some instructions or information regarding your preferred means of being contacted.

5) Join groups

There are more than 1.8 million to choose from. Joining the right relevant groups will allow you to open contact with those who are not in your direct network (Make sure to adjust the groups contact settings to prevent yourself getting over loaded with e-mails).

6) Connect with potential employers

Don’t be afraid to request connections with potential sources of employment. Strategically connecting with professional and personal contacts on LinkedIn will give you access to their connections which could include potential employers or clients.

7) Status updates

Get in the habit of making status updates. One per day is more than enough. This is an easy way to share useful information make sure you stay in the minds of those in your network.

8) Prioritise your group activities

Groups show up in your profile and demonstrate your interests. Select the group that is most relevant to you and get involved. Try to post your own ideas and get involved in discussions to generate interest from the right connections.

9) Download your network database

Safeguard your important information, including the names titles and companies and e-mail addresses. This information will also prove useful in attempting to network outside of LinkedIn.

10) Use your professional gallery

This can be used to showcase some of your work including presentations, documents and links to other resources

11) Alumni search feature

This can be used to get a list of all LinkedIn members who went to your school. This can let you reconnect with old friends and make useful new connections

12) Manage your skills and expertise section carefully

Remove information that is not relevant to your career and experience. Replace these irrelevant entries with currently relevant skills and expertise to keep your profile as fresh as possible

13) Pursue recommendations

Do not underestimate the value of a well written and relevant recommendation. This is definitely one of the best ways of boosting your LinkedIn reputation

Here are a few of the most common mistakes we encounter, and our suggestions on how to correct them.

1) Not using a picture

Put simply, your profile is more likely to be viewed if you have a profile picture. Like an ad for a house, if there’s no picture, we assume there’s something wrong.  Imagine yourself after leaving a networking event (with 50 business cards in your hands), it can be difficult to remember who is who and to put a name to a face. It stands to reason that a missing photo can lead to missing connections.

2) Putting up the WRONG photo.

Your profile photo is meant to show that you are professional. Keep it clear, and in black and white, (save all of your dog and baby photos for Facebook).

3) Skipping the status

LinkedIn is the right place to update your network about your professional progress and accomplishments in the form of status updates – It is suggested to update your status every few days to show your network that you are active and engaged. Remember, others won’t know what you what your accomplishments are unless you show them off.

4) Using the default connection request.

If you want to develop valuable professional relationships with others in your network, tailor your connection request to make it more personal. Customizing it will make the recipient take notice. This can be done by researching the person and taking note of some of their achievements.

5) Neglecting the privacy settings

Learn to use your privacy settings. If you are currently employed and you don’t want your employer to see the tell-tale signs that you are planning to leave (ie. connecting with lots of recruiters and having a massive influx of new connections), then you can adjust your privacy settings so that they are none the wiser.

6) Skipping the summary

The summary is your chance to sell yourself. Most will write this as just an objective list of their experience and qualifications. By writing it in the first person to give it an edge and personality, you can gain an advantage over your competitors.

7) Removing past jobs or volunteer work

Your latest job is not the only important one. LinkedIn in is not like a CV where you are trying to target 1 specific position. It should list your entire work history, because you don’t know what specific search criteria others may be looking for. There may be useful experience that you may have developed from volunteering positions.

8) Forgetting to lurk

Having a profile is not enough. It is unlikely that potential employers will just stumble across your profile. You can lurk by joining relevant groups.