A while back I was talking with a former pastor who now owns a senior caregiving company. The subject of public speaking came up. Without a lot of time to get deeply into it, I told him I might ask him later for his advice on being an effective compelling speaker. He smiled and remarked how sermons are now “content,” and pastors are now content creators. How true! I’d never thought of it that way. (Some more than others, I thought, my own pastor being a blogger and author as well.) Ah, the march of technology.
I think it’s safe to say that the strongest content created, especially in the marketing realm, involves storytelling. And when it comes to your career, and advancing it, it’s important to market yourself as effectively as possible—be it via your attire, elevator speech, résumé, or LinkedIn profile. The latter will be my focus in this post. Let’s look at several tweaks you can make to help your profile get more of the attention you want.
1) Your Photo
Years ago when I first started using LinkedIn, I resisted the notion of having a photo. I thought it might cause connections or prospective employers to be shallow or judgmental based on a photo, and that omitting a picture would put more focus on my content than my face.
But, as a former supervisor of mine at a record company used to say about album covers, “People like to see people.” Since then, my attitude has changed, and I have to say I agree with that supervisor. Having a photo allows someone to get an extra sense of you as a person and a professional, beyond the written content that follows. They can start connecting by being able to “look you in the eye.” A photo also jogs people’s memory, putting name to face.
Resist the tendency to go for an “I look good in this one” photo that’s too casual, too dark, or has overlapping bits of others in the crop.” Use a clear, professional-looking, conservative photo on your profile. I’d recommend that your attire in it be at least business casual, if not formal interview attire.
If need be, dress like you would for an interview or at least business casual; get outside in good light; and (using at least a 5 megapixel setting) have a friend take 10 or 20 color shots of you. Use an area with a plain background and indirect sunlight so you’re not overly lit or squinting. Be sure to smile. Afterwards, with your friend’s input, choose the best one—something that showcases you as qualified and well put together. Crop it to a portrait orientation, upper chest to above your head, and upload your stellar new pic to your profile.
Just like with résumés, recruiters will search LinkedIn profiles based on keywords. So your profile should contain keywords that have to do with the jobs you’re hoping to land. You can look at job descriptions at sites like Indeed or Careerbuilder to get ideas for the top keywords used to describe the positions you’re seeking. Then, using your updated résumé, populate that content into your LinkedIn profile.
3) The Summary
LinkedIn provides limited space in the Summary section (which is at the top of your profile page), so utilize this space the best you can. I recommend including the information below, since the Summary is the first section a potential employer will see. It can also be a great spot to reiterate keywords. Further, the Summary can help show others the “you” you want them to know, regardless of your work history.
1. Contact information
2. The summary paragraph from your résumé
3. 4 or so strengths
4. 5 or so selected accomplishments (your most important)
5. Software proficiencies (if relevant for the job you’re seeking)
6. Seeking – This will be 2 bullet points detailing where you’d like to work and what you’d like to do. (You can remove this section after you get your new position.) Here’s a sample:
• Dallas Area Target Position: FT accounting, ____, or ____ position in a solid, ideally medium to large-sized company.
• Sample Job Titles: ____, ____, ____, ____.
4) Volunteer Work
Including volunteer work on your LinkedIn profile is always a plus. LinkedIn now has a Volunteering Experience section in which volunteer work can be entered. When you’re on your profile, the access link appears toward the top. However, LinkedIn says that your colleagues cannot attach Recommendations for you to the volunteer work you enter here! And if you’re thinking about deleting volunteer work you set up like a job and recreating it in this Volunteering Experience section, know that you cannot move any Recommendations you have along with the corresponding volunteer positions.
So, until these issues are remedied, I recommend entering your volunteer positions as jobs, so that Recommendations can be written. Make sure to be detailed on what you did in each position. Not only can viewers can see how you’ve been able to apply certain skill sets in those positions, but supervisors or fellow volunteers can write Recommendations for you that will connect with the respective volunteer position.
5) Avoiding Age Discrimination
In your Education section, choose the “-” for the From-To dates for each of your degrees, and don’t enter the years. Ideally, include no more than your last 10 years of job history in order to avoid any potential age discrimination. But it’s a good idea to list as many of your past positions as you feel you need to show. Don’t forget to customize your public profile URL. This will make it shorter, better looking, and easier for you and others to remember.
6) Keep It Current
Make sure to update your profile information (via the Contact Information link under your total number of your connections) a few times a year as you have more achievements at your current position and especially when you change jobs.
Keep your backlinks current (a LinkedIn pet peeve of mine.) Backlinks are links to things like your website, portfolio, or blog that appear on your Contact Info tab. They are visible to LinkedIn members, but the fields shown depend on your connection to the viewer. Anytime you change one of these URLs, be sure to update the link to it on your LinkedIn profile. Google will index backlinks, helping your profile turn up in searches on your name. People who want to know more about you will be frustrated if they get “Page Not Found” when clicking a backlink.
Watch my video on this topic:
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