By May 21, 2017 Career Advice

Did you know that when it comes to securing a remote job having an up-to-date, professional LinkedIn profile is just as important as a resume?

LinkedIn is a powerful online platform to network and connect with potential employers. However, it also has over 460 million members according to data gathered by Statista in 2016.

So in order to distinguish yourself from other potential hires and have employers notice your unique set of strengths, talents and experiences, it’s important you make a powerful impression and do so in the most efficient way.

Here are 3 key elements you should spend time optimizing on your LinkedIn profile so you stand out from the crowd.

Stand Out on LinkedIn When You Optimize These 3 Key Elements

1. Headline

Think of your professional headline as your mission statement. It appears in various places on LinkedIn and is the first thing people see when they visit your profile. It’s also used by the LinkedIn algorithm to rank you in search results.

Your professional headline should be descriptive and reflect your personal brand promise. Think about what it is that makes you unique. What value can you bring to a business and why are you the best choice. Then think about this in terms of keywords. What words do you hope to be found on if an employer or recruiter does a search?  If possible, put these keywords into your headline – but don’t ‘stuff’ the headline with keywords. Make sure it still flows naturally and fits into the overall message of your brand promise. For example …

Instead of “Marketing Professional” how about:

Social Media Guru | PR & Marketing Communications Expert

Instead of “Freelance Writer” how about:

Writer of Powerful Content | Storytelling Enthusiast | Dedicated Blogger

Another way to grab some attention is to include a “so what?” statement that instantly showcases something you have accomplished in your role. These headlines also catch the eye of the recruiter. Here are some examples…

Instead of “Project Manager” how about:

PMP-Certified Project Manager | Successfully Managed Multi-Million Dollar Projects in the Middle East

Instead of “Teacher” how about:

Primary Teacher | Motivating Pupils with Enthusiastic, Imaginative Teaching Methods

LinkedIn is full of headlines that don’t take full advantage of the space. With a bit of thought and effort, yours can totally stand out from the crowd.

You might also want to consider adding a little pizzazz in the form of bullets and symbols. You can add these characters to your headline and other parts of your profile.

This article lists many of the characters to use for bullets and symbols and the author has given permission for you to copy and paste them directly onto your profile. But remember, less is more! Be careful not to go overboard because your profile still needs to look professional.

2. Profile Photo

This is another very important element of your LinkedIn profile as your photo can make or break that crucial first impression. You need a good quality head shot for your profile picture.

Your LinkedIn profile picture should not be a selfie photo, company logo or a picture of you and your partner, pet or children. This is not just the first picture a potential employer will see of you, it might be the only picture they see of you, so keep it professional.

Try to look confident, positive and have a relaxed expression, not serious and stern. Be yourself.

According to a study conducted by researchers at New York University, the best profile pictures are those where you appear “slightly happy” not too happy.

If your photo is more than a few years old, it’s probably time to get a new one. You may look fantastic, but you don’t want an employer expecting someone entirely different at the interview.

In terms of what to wear, we suggest business dress as a default option – something classic, timeless and work-appropriate. But you should adapt your style to suit your (future) job/industry. If you’re not sure what approach to take, find people on LinkedIn already working in the industry and look at their profile pictures to determine what might be appropriate.

Here are some tips for capturing a great photo:

  • Go for soft, diffused lighting. Turn off your camera’s flash and avoid direct sunlight. It can work well if you stand near a window, but not directly in front of it.
  • Headshots look best with a solid-coloured background. If you don’t have one, iron a sheet or piece of fabric and hang that up behind you to set a portrait-like backdrop. Avoid black or very dark backgrounds, particularly if you’re wearing dark colours (a floating head is not a good look).
  • Get someone else to take the photo for you – it’s usually obvious when a photo is self-taken (unless you’re a professional photographer!)
  • Take several photos, experiment with angles and lighting to find the most flattering combination.
  • A moderate amount of photo editing is acceptable, but don’t beautify yourself so much that you’re no longer recognisable.  Keep it natural.
  • We recommend using the same image across all of your social media channels to keep your personal online brand consistent.

3. Summary

The Summary is a very important aspect of your LinkedIn profile. It’s your opportunity to pitch to potential employers – don’t make it ‘salesy’ though. It needs to capture the attention of decision-makers and make them want to know more about you, but it must be authentic and represent your real-world self.

Essentially, your summary should build on the promise of value statement in your headline. In summarising your experience, skills and industry knowledge think about what type of impression you want to make on people who view your profile – what qualities are you known for? And be sure to sprinkle some keywords throughout the summary relevant to the role you’re currently looking for.

You can write your LinkedIn profile in the first or third person – either is acceptable. It is becoming more common to see summaries written in the first person with a conversational tone. The summary is an area where you can inject your personality, let people know your values and passions and even discuss what you do outside of work. This all helps to engage the reader and encourage them to want to know more about you.

Ideally your summary should be around 3 to 5 short paragraphs long. Skills and qualifications can be listed as a bulleted list if need be.

There are also particular words you should probably steer clear of, like “Motivated”, “Creative” and “Enthusiastic” – voted the Top 3 overused buzzwords by LinkedIn in 2015.  Think of other ways to get your point across in a few words and actively demonstrate how you are these things by highlighting causes you care about or uploading examples of your creative work.  The idea here is to “show” not “tell”.

Lastly, when you’re looking for job opportunities, it’s a good idea to include a call to action in your Summary section as well – tell your audience how best to get in touch with you or where they can go to get more information (eg. providing a link to your website or online portfolio of work).

So that your well-crafted Summary is clearly visible on your profile, be sure to position it at the top, before your work experience. Don’t make the mistake of hiding it at the bottom.

Optimising your LinkedIn profile is critical for getting noticed by employers and recruiters.

And remember, your LinkedIn profile is always a work in progress. Tweak it regularly, update your skill set and upload new media to keep it fresh and interesting.  This will ensure your profile continues to play a role in helping you to stand out from the crowd.

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