By Janice Burch, Co-founder, Pro Resume Center, LLC

We have been getting several  inquiries lately to help update or completely write LinkedIn profiles for our clients.  I am so pleased to see when people see the opportunity LinkedIn provides to them for their job search and networking capabilities, even if they are not looking to change jobs. Your client base can be expanded, your supplier list strengthened, your colleagues could gain further respect for you – depending on what you put on your LinkedIn profile.

Pay attention to it – you will be glad you did. Before we dive into the meat of this, don't forget  to use a great Profile Photo. Place a picture here which reflects  your desired position. If you are hoping to move from a floor supervisor to an executive position in the corporate office, don't dress for the photo like you are on the floor in a short sleeved pullover, but show potential hiring executives you are ready for this leadership part. Sportcoat/suitcoat/tie if necessary and a polished smile. No funky backgrounds behind you which compete with your face – keep it simple, bland, solid. I find daylight, even if taken from the inside looking out a window, can provide some of the best color and clarity for most headshots. Ask a friend or family member to take it for you. Remember first impressions count and LinkedIn may be looked at by hiring executives before your resume hits their inbox. Pay attention to the image you are portraying – confident, intelligent, approachable, positive.

If you are basically starting from scratch or have not really done much work on it, here are my top tips this week to establish a great LinkedIn profile:

1. Headline/tagline
Optimize the headline/tagline beneath your name so it does not just say your current or past jobs. Adding keywords to your headline that you want to be associated with can improve your searchability within LinkedIn and beyond.

An example might look like this: Sales Leader and Team Development Director | Social Media Marketing Expert | Relationship Marketing Expert

2. Summary
Your profile summary can be used to provide additional descriptions about your experience, expertise, awards, etc.  This is where you can give people a glimpse into who you are, what your background is, what you’re looking to accomplish, and additional places they can find you online or contact you. If you are job searching – let them know why they should want you on their team.

The LinkedIn summary also presents an opportunity to include links to content that you have created (or participated in creating) AND you can display them.  Screenshot your website you created, or results from social media marketing you ran for your online company – beef it up and have some fun with it.  A presentation is far more engaging than a block of text.

Finally, remember to get personal.  Your LinkedIn profile is not a resume or CV. Write your summary with some personality. Don't be shy in letting people know your values and passions and other interests. In your summary, discuss what you do outside of work. You want people to want to know you and engage their interest.

3. Job Experience
Make sure your current job experience is relevant. Don't simply lift information from the company website and insert it. there is an opportunity within the work experience section on LinkedIn to share a little bit about your company, as well as share a list of your responsibilities and most importantly, your accomplishments in current and previous positions. Consider it a timeline of your growth and evolution as a professional.

Make sure that you flesh out as much information as you can for each relevant position that you have held. Data/stats/results will go far here. Remember your job responsibilities linked to your job title are likely much like everyone else who has the same title. Make yourself stand out by showing what YOU DID while in that role, the impact you had for the company (sales results?), the clients, the department, etc.

Don’t feel you need to include every detail of every job you have had – especially if the details dilute your brand message. You can omit the jobs you had early in your career if they don’t offer insights into how you deliver value today.

4. Skills
Be smart about and properly utilize your Skills section. When someone endorses you for a particular skill or area of expertise it shows up below your work experience on your LinkedIn profile. Next to each endorsement you’ll see the number of people that have endorsed you for any individual skill set. If you find that the skills listed on your profile don’t accurately represent your capabilities you can always go into that area of your profile and either add or remove individual items from your list.

5. Recommendations
A good recommendation is going to take a little more effort than simply clicking to endorse your connections or ask that they do the same for you.  If you’re going to ask for recommendations I recommend you personalize the message.  While LinkedIn allows you to send a recommendation request to 200 people at a time, a personalized approach can go a long way.  Remember that you’re asking your connections to set aside time to say nice things about you in a public forum, so your communication with them should be sincere and appreciative.

To wrap it up I have one last piece of advice – procrastinate a bit in doing your outreach and networking on LinkedIn.  Don’t reach out to contacts until you are completely thrilled with your profile. When you reach out the others, they will likely view your profile before deciding if they want to connect with you so make sure it's locked and loaded to impress!

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