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7 Ways to Improve Your LinkedIn Profile

Removing unnecessary items and adding recommendations can attract recruiters

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When it comes to promoting your career and accomplishments, it’s hard to beat LinkedIn. As a go-to social media platform for business professionals, LinkedIn can help you build your network, showcase your experience and expertise, and land a new job. According to the company’s research, more than 3 in 4 people who recently changed jobs used LinkedIn to shape their decision.

But what makes a strong profile? These tips from LinkedIn experts can help make your profile stand out from the pack.

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1. Make a great first impression

Ask people about the most important part of your profile, and some might say the headline while others will point to the photo. But LinkedIn expert Sandra Long, author of LinkedIn for Personal Branding: The Ultimate Guide, says it’s the entire “first impression” section, which is also called the “introduction card.” This section includes items like your name and profession, but she advises paying particular attention to your:

  • Timeline photo: This is an often-overlooked part at the very top of the profile, Long says. Without a photo, this section is a graphic with shades of gray that can make it look drab. Use this section to add a photo that indicates your line of work or your interests. Show your place of business (if your jobs permits you to), appropriate hobbies or something else that gives people an idea of who you are. 
  • Head shot: It may be tempting to pull a photo from a decade or more ago. But Long says it’s important that your photo be current. “If it’s been 20 years, our weight changes, our hair changes, our glasses have changed, right?” she says. You want hiring managers and recruiters to recognize you when you meet them. While you may have concerns about age bias, profiles that have photos tend to attract more attention from recruiters. Usually, a head shot from the shoulders up works best. If you can invest in a professional shot, Long says that’s a good idea, too. 
  • Headline: Immediately under your name, you have a 220-character headline to explain what you do or what you want to accomplish on LinkedIn. The LinkedIn Talent Blog has some good examples of the different ways to approach headlines. 

2. Use your summary smartly

Your LinkedIn summary is heavily weighted in the formula the platform uses to help recruiters find you in their searches, so it’s a good opportunity to boost your visibility, says career coach and LinkedIn consultant Debra Boggs. You have roughly 2,000 characters to showcase your experience, skills and other reasons you’re the right job candidate or professional contact. Boggs emphasizes writing the entry in the first-person point of view, not third person, to sound more engaging. Use keywords that match the opportunities you’re seeking. And “anything that kind of adds a little bit of personal flair to it is important,” she says. Use short sentences and concise paragraphs to make your profile easier to read on mobile devices.

Executive résumé writer and LinkedIn expert Donna Svei also recommends highlighting exceptional testimonials and quotes about your work in this section. “Don’t rely on a reader scrolling to the bottom of your profile to find them,” she says.

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3. Remove your unnecessary items

As your career grows, so do the various LinkedIn entries that show your education and experience. It’s a good idea to review this section from time to time, says executive résumé writer and consultant Brenda Bernstein, author of How to Write a Killer LinkedIn Profile. If you’re worried about age bias affecting your job opportunities, Bernstein suggests removing older entries and the dates associated with education.

“A lot of times I’ll work with people that are 25 years into their career, but they still have internships listed in their experience. That’s no longer necessary,” Boggs adds. “We’re really focusing on where you are now and where you’re headed.”

4. Make sure your employment dates match your résumé

Boggs says it’s important that your résumé and LinkedIn profile both reflect the same employment dates to avoid raising any red flags with recruiters, so ensure the dates match as you update each document.

5. Highlight your skills — especially tech talents

Weave your relevant skills into your profile by including them in your summary and job descriptions as well as in the Skills section of your profile. This can help bust stereotypes about mature workers and technology, Boggs says. Technology is changing so rapidly, she adds, that hiring managers may assume people don’t have the skills employers need. “And a lot of times, that’s just not true.” Detail the technology you used in various jobs. And if you’ve taken any classes or had training in relevant applications or platforms, add those to your Courses or Certifications sections.

6. Show off your leadership ability

By posting about news in your industry, including your own industry-focused commentary, and commenting in the Activity section, you can give recruiters and prospective employers a taste of your experience and thought leadership, Long says. Post articles you wrote or find interesting, a PowerPoint deck you created or other relevant media to show that you’re informed and forward-thinking. A frequently updated Activity section shows that you’re engaged and thinking about various issues. You can also use this section to share your good news, promotions and achievements.

Your interactions with others in the form of likes and comments may also show up in your contacts’ feeds. By engaging this way with your colleagues and contacts, you can strengthen your network, too.

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7. Focus on impact

Svei recommends that throughout your profile you emphasize the impact you have had, as well as your overall experience. “Be sure your reader understands that when you show up, revenue grows X percent, expenses go down X percent and customer satisfaction scores go up X percent,” she says. This reinforces that you are a dynamic contributor who will have a positive impact on the business.

If you haven’t received a recommendation on your profile in a while, recruiters could see that as a red flag. Bernstein recommends giving and requesting recommendations to keep them current. If you have successfully completed a big project at work, don’t be shy about asking someone on your team to talk about it on your profile.

Updating your LinkedIn profile by focusing on these key areas can make it more appealing and more relevant to today’s job market. It’s a good idea to revisit your profile periodically and tweak it with new information to ensure you’re capturing all the skills and experience that will help you accomplish your goals.

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APPLYING FOR A JOB?

AARP RESUME ADVISOR CAN HELP

Free resume review provides tips for highlighting your skills and experience.

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