How to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile
Designed for professionals, LinkedIn is a networking social media platform for the business community. The basic functionality of LinkedIn allows users to create an online profile that represents their employment history and skills set. Through this profile, you can find jobs and business opportunities, network with professionals who can recommend you to their colleagues, and gain insights into your industry.
But how do you build the perfect LinkedIn profile to ensure that employers are finding you? If you're thinking about working abroad, your LinkedIn profile might be the perfect place to start your job search. Here are our top tips for optimizing your LinkedIn profile for your international career.
Include a picture
While it’s tempting not to include a picture on your LinkedIn, it will actually harm your profile not to include one. When employers and recruiters scan the platform, they scroll through thousands and thousands of profiles per week. These written profiles can often seem impersonal and artificial; so bring some life to your account by including a picture and showing the employer that you are the professional and presentable individual that you claim to be in your profile. Aside from this factor, people remember faces more than they remember names!
Your photo must represent you in a professional light. So no selfies, no photos of you drinking alcohol with your friends at that really great party, and no photos with your friends/mom/pet. A simple headshot is all you need.
Choose a catchy headline
Many people simply use their job title as their headline. While this isn’t necessarily wrong, it’s a waste of an opportunity: you have 120 characters to use to describe your strengths and catch an employer’s attention. Use them to explain what you can offer. For example, “Marketing Consultant: Helping brands get noticed for the right reasons.” Use the Skills section to source keywords you can incorporate into your headline.
Polish your summary section
This is the most prominent, and important element in your profile. Don’t leave it blank, or simply list your work experience. Write a sentence for each of your major successes; mention the principles and ideas that really motivate you. Back your claims up with quantifiable facts where you can, (e.g “increased click-through by 60%” or “reduced staff turnover by half”) and make sure to include any major qualifications or accolades you have received. This is also a great place to mention if you learned English for your international career. Recruiters and employers looking for bilingual employees will see this section first, and mentioning language skills may encourage them to read on.
Create a custom URL
A great way to make your LinkedIn profile stand out is to set up a custom URL. When you register with LinkedIn, it automatically assigns you with a URL that contains a combination of numbers and letters. Instead of using this basic URL, you can edit your URL so that it includes your name – this way when an employer (or anyone for that matter) Googles your name, your LinkedIn profile will become one of the top results in Google, meaning your profile is therefore more visible to future employers and recruitment agencies.
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Build your recommendations
Recommendations will convince employers that you’re not just a wannabe – you really can deliver on your claims. If you have worked closely alongside a colleague or employer, then offer them a recommendation for one in return. Choose a particular skill that you would like to highlight and remind your contact of of times you have demonstrated that skill.
If you feel uncomfortable asking colleagues for recommendations, try writing recommendations for them without being asked. It is likely that they will return the favor out of courtesy.
Build a strong network of "connections"
LinkedIn will automatically invite contacts to connect with you. However, we suggest you deselect this option. While it may help you to build a lot of contacts, it is likely that there are people amongst your contacts who aren’t going to be helpful to you and may even detract from your professional image.
Instead, use the search function to manually search for connections. Once you have carefully selected whom you would like to connect with, LinkedIn will then suggest similar people, based on the connections you have chosen yourself.
Spend some time writing personal, tailored messages to each person that will explain why you would value them as a connection – they’re much more likely to respond to your request.
Be active in LinkedIn groups
Similar to fan pages on Facebook, LinkedIn has a "group" functionality that allows members to group together and share and participate in professional and industry-specific interests. This is a great way to build your connections and increase your recommendations on LinkedIn, so whether it’s an alumni group from university, or an industry specific group, join in and start a conversation. The more groups you join, the stronger chance you have of building relationships and networking with like-minded professionals. Remember, you have to be active within the groups to encourage people to connect with you. When possible, try to offer valuable input to the discussion that will benefit other people and demonstrate your passion for your chosen industry.
When recruiters and employers search LinkedIn, they use industry specific keywords to refine their searches. For example, if an employer is looking for a marketing assistant, they are likely to search keywords such as "marketing," "SEO" and "optimization" to drive them towards professionals that are skilled in this area. Visit the careers page of companies that you would like to be employed by, and pick keywords that are used in their job descriptions. Work these words into your profile – but remember to be subtle about it! It needs to look natural.
Publish, and see where you end up!
Once you have added all of the above to your account, your LinkedIn profile will be complete! Simply proofread your profile and make sure that there are no simple spelling mistakes, and that the dates in your employment history are accurate. Then finally, make sure your profile is public, and publish it for the world to see!
Have any other questions about building the perfect LinkedIn profile? Feel free to share your questions with us on our Facebook channel or in the comment section below.