Personal branding is becoming increasingly important to employers as the social media age continues to dominate. This means that your online presence needs to be squeaky clean and portray you in the best light possible, as prospective employers take to the internet to check out if you’re up to scratch. According to a 2018 CareerBuilder report, 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process, and 43% of employers use social media to check on current employees. One of the best ways to highlight your professionalism and the skills you can bring to a role is to have a top-notch LinkedIn profile with all the right elements to make employers say “this is the candidate for me”.
But how do you reach this level of LinkedIn guruship? Whether you’re already in a job and want to tidy up your professional look, you’re looking for new opportunities or you’ve just graduated and you’re ready to showcase all that you have learnt during your time studying, getting your LinkedIn profile together is essential. In this post, we outline 10 factors for you to consider when creating, or recreating, your LinkedIn profile to maximise your employability and get you noticed among the fierce competition.
1. Get your profile picture and background image right
We’re visual beings, and so the first thing a potential employer will be drawn to when visiting your profile is likely to be your profile picture and the image you’ve used for your background header. This means you need to choose a professional, appropriate picture of yourself that is clear and close-up. LinkedIn recommends that 60% of your profile picture should consist of your face – so no long, far-away shots! Make sure you’re smiling in your picture, as this makes you appear friendly and approachable.
Choosing an appropriate background header image can be a little trickier. With your profile picture, it’s a given of what the image should be, but with this one you have a little more flexibility. As this image grabs people’s attention, it’s a good place to show what you’re passionate about in an eye-catching way. The aim is that as soon as someone lands on your profile, they instantly know what you’re about and what you’re interested in. Choose something relevant to your field, something that inspires you or something recognisable to those ‘in the know’.
2. Fill out your profile to the full potential
A sparse profile can look like you haven’t made a lot of effort, so ensure you leave no stone unturned – a partial linkedin profile can also make it appear like you don’t have enough to say about yourself. So make sure that every aspect of the profile that can be personalised is filled out comprehensively. Don’t neglect any fields, ensure you populate them accurately and in an engaging way. Don’t just use the usual “I am a passionate, driven individual that can work well in a team and individually” – anyone and everyone is able to say this about themselves, so really try to communicate what is unique to you. What experience do you have that no one else has? What problems have you solved? What can you bring to the table? Get this across any way you can, you don’t have to speak in general terms, tell people a real story and don’t be scared to show that you have a personality.
3. Make your headline creative
Your headline should be more than just your job title, or the title of the job that you want to obtain. It should outline clearly what you do, or what you want to do. This is particularly important if you’re looking for work as you must demonstrate what skills you can bring to prospective employers quickly and concisely. So, for example, if you’re looking for a job, you’d want to put something along the lines of “Talented [insert role here] looking for new opportunities”. If you already have a job, this should tell people what it is you do, not just your job title, so something like “I help companies get the most out of the marketing activities”. You can add your job title in there, just be sure to add something a little more descriptive in there so people can better understand what it is that you actually do.
4. Use your summary space wisely
This is where you truly get to sell yourself, so utilising this space is important. Introduce yourself and what you do best. Then move on to how you do this, what skills you have that set you apart from the rest and give examples of key achievements that prove this. Then you’ll want to include what makes you tick, what you’re passionate about and why you do what you do on a personal level – this makes you more relatable and positions you as a ‘real’ person, not just a profile. If you’re currently in work, you can talk about the company you work for a little, discussing how your business improves the lives or businesses of others and what you do to excel at this company. If you’re looking for work, then you should write about what you want to do for work and for what kind of company in terms of values and work ethic. Be honest, as much as you want potential employers to notice you, you equally don’t want the wrong ones reaching out, so be clear about what you stand for. Don’t clutter this space up with generic messaging or skills, keep to point, be concise and keep people engaged by telling your story fluently.
5. Carry out an audit on your skills section
‘Skills’ on LinkedIn can go much further than you might think and they’re actually used to inform the jobs that are recommended to you in the jobs section of LinkedIn. Making sure that the skills you list on your profile are true and relevant is important not just to your potential employers, but to yourself. The more accurate you make your skill set, the more suitable the opportunities presented to you will be. Don’t feel that you need to add in every micro-skill that you have, stick to the ones that you have a very sound knowledge of, feel comfortable talking about and executing and that these will help you in the field of your choice.
6. Don’t overuse ‘buzzwords’
A profile that is full of generic buzzwords proves one thing and one thing only, and that is that you have nothing valuable to say about yourself and instead are taking the language of others to portray yourself as in-the-know. People can see straight through it. I’m sure that we have all come across profiles that we’ve read that have had a lot of words, but haven’t really told us anything at all about the person themselves. Ensure that there is substance behind your words, that they mean something and that the language you use is your own, relaxed and conversation but showcasing your professionalism and competence to communicate about yourself.
Each year, LinkedIn publish a list of the most used buzzwords across the channel, so take a look at their most up-to-date buzzword report and ensure you avoid using these words and opt for something a little more creative instead!
7. Make the most of your network
Make sure you build a valuable network. Simply connecting with anyone who wishes to isn’t going to present you with an insightful feed that you’re interested in and wish to engage with. You should use a vetting rule when building your network to determine whether someone is worthy of joining it or not. Are they in a similar field? Do they have knowledge or expertise from which you can draw on? Can you provide them with useful knowledge yourself? Do you aspire to be like this person? Will seeing their content be enjoyable and useful for you, and likewise will your content be relevant to them?
Connect with the top influencers in your desired industry and use their insights for inspiration, and to share these valuable insights with your own network to make it clear what your passion is and what you find interesting. This also shows to employers that you’re actively interested in what you do, so much so you engage with content that comes outside of the workplace to gain extra knowledge.
8. Engage with other people’s content
Once you’ve built your network, we’re sure that you’ll be eager to get involved with what people have to say. Engage with what people are talking about, if you have a view or a contribution that may be helpful, then don’t be afraid to throw your two cents into the mix. The more people see your name appearing around relevant topics, the more knowledgeable you appear and you can begin to establish yourself as a thought-leader. Then people may come to you for insight! If you want people to answer your questions and interact with what you have to say, you have to give out some effort to receive some in return. Don’t go liking and commenting on everything you see, but if you truly feel you have something valuable to offer within a conversation, then go right ahead.
9. Create your own long-form content
When you come across a topic that sparks some thought, why not see if you can expand it out into a post that you can share with others? Utilise the ‘blog’ feature of LinkedIn if you really want to delve into the topic. Creating an engaging piece could go quite far on the network and give you insight from professional minds globally on something you’d like to know more about, or a topic you’re interested in. Publishing content can spark conversation and you never know who might pick up what you’ve said, you could make some valuable connections that can help you to excel in your field. Make sure when you put a piece out there that you respond to people who comment and keep up the momentum surrounding your ideas.
10. Be proactive about your endorsements
The list of skills that we mentioned earlier can be endorsed by your fellow connections, and being proactive about obtaining these endorsements can go a long way. Having skills that are backed by people in the industry determines the job listings that are displayed in the jobs section of LinkedIn and also the employers you appear in front of when they’re hiring. Just like your skills need to true and accurate, the endorsements also need to be quality. This means you can’t simply ask your fellow university peers to back you up, you need people who are highly qualified in the skill that can have an informed opinion of how you perform at this skill. Don’t be afraid to reach out to those you have worked with, or those your aspire to be like if you feel you can communicate well to them how you are skilled in that area.
So there you have it, you’re fully equipped to go and present yourself in the best possible light. Need some further guidance on how to stand out among the competition? Visit the University of Salford careers service for some job-seeking help.