Creating a Great LinkedIn Profile

By XTGlobal Posted 10-Sep-2014

LinkedIn can be a powerful tool for advancing your career whether you’re actively seeking new opportunities or not. With recruiters and employers alike using it to find potential new employees, making yourself stand out from the over 313 million other users is critical. Keeping these seven tips in mind when you create or update your IT profile on LinkedIn can help you get the most from this important social media site.

Use keywords wisely

If you want your IT profile to harness the full power of LinkedIn, keywords are your best friend. More specifically, using the keywords recruiters and hiring managers are most likely to use when posting your dream job will allow you to draw more focused search traffic, both from within LinkedIn and outside search engines. LinkedIn profiles were designed to be highly searchable. Use that to your advantage whenever possible.

While selecting the right keywords sounds easy enough, plan to devote time to your keyword research prior to filling in any of the sections. Once you’ve determined which keywords best represent your experience and the types of opportunities you’re looking for, it will be easier to narrow your focus from your entire resume to those aspects of it that are relevant to what you really want.

If you’re having trouble brainstorming which keywords are most applicable to your IT expertise, here are some free tools to help get your research efforts started. SEOBook – Keyword ToolWordstreamUbersuggest are good places to start. Whenever possible, try using the same variation of a particular keyword in your profile that you see on postings for jobs you want. This will increase your ranking in LinkedIn search results.

A word of caution: Sprinkle your keywords into each section in a way that doesn’t impair the readability of your profile. While a keyword may draw search engine attention to your profile, it’s the content that will engage a human being and keep them reading.

Add a headline

While the space allowed for your headline on LinkedIn may be relatively short, this tiny section is often your only chance to entice employers or recruiters to read further. When writing your headline, be honest with yourself about the nature of your experience and what your personal brand will be. The smart use of powerful keywords in your headline will let readers know at a glance who you are professionally and what you have to offer.

If there’s a particular technical area you specialize in and that’s the direction you want to take your career, avoid adding keywords to your headline that would imply otherwise. When it comes to headlines, it’s always better to have a laser focus regarding your career goals than trying to attract every recruiter.

For example, if you’re an experienced .NET developer with an extensive pedigree in the language and are looking to continue this particular career path, don’t dilute your headline with broad generalizations. A headline along the lines of ‘Seasoned IT Professional with 7 Years Experience in .NET Application Development’ can go a long way toward making your profile visible and targeted to those searching via LinkedIn. Not only that, but it can also help give you the advantage of visibility over equally-skilled developers who have not yet taken the time to optimize their own profiles.

Create a compelling summary

Although some people like to use the summary section of their LinkedIn profile to restate their resume’s objective, this section can do so much more. This is where you can turn your experience and skills into a compelling story. This is where you captivate the recruiters or employers you hooked with your keywords and headline.

Unlike the section where you detail the full breadth of your experience, your summary is where you bring technical skills, soft skills and significant accomplishments to the forefront. As with the headline, it’s critical that you remain focused in this section. It may be tempting to discuss all your accomplishments or skills, but sticking with those that deliver on the promise your headline made will make a better impression. If you’re looking for .NET application development opportunities, discussing your past experience with antiquated programming languages or unrelated skill sets in this section may distract readers and disrupt the focused flow that a summary should have.

While it may also be tempting to turn to someone else for help crafting your summary, writing it yourself is the best way to let your true voice and personality shine through. Jeff Haden cautions that you can have someone else assist with setting up your LinkedIn profile, “but be careful with the content.” No one else’s words can represent your personal brand better than you can

Provide detail on employment history

Conventional resume wisdom may direct you to focus only on your responsibilities and accomplishments with each employer and save your skills for a later section, but it doesn’t have to be that way on LinkedIn. If you used a specific programming language or platform as part of your job, feel free to bullet point that information for every job you include. Listing your information technology skills in a later section will show recruiters what you know at a glance. Listing those same skills while discussing your employment history shows your skills in action.

If your resume only lists your accomplishments or job responsibilities, it’s necessary to add more to show the full picture of each job on your LinkedIn profile. Resume specialist Jennifer Hay states, “including ‘context’ information helps readers understand the circumstances in which you worked and the challenges you faced.” Don’t just tell us that you implemented a new system; tell us why it was necessary to the company and how you overcame obstacles to succeed.

Be an active participant

Once you’ve set up the basics of your IT LinkedIn profile, your work isn’t complete. Being an active participant in relevant groups and adding to the conversation can help you draw the attention of companies within your industry that may not actively be searching for new employees at the moment. Guy Kawasaki, Canava’s chief evangelist, advises that serious LinkedIn users add value to the community by providing assistance, information and analysis. Taking this approach with the updates you post and the way you interact within groups can help you establish IT thought leadership.

As you grow more comfortable adding value to the community, it’s time to implement a smart networking strategy. Since anyone you connect with on LinkedIn is ultimately a reflection of your personal brand, follow relevant companies and industry professionals. Unlike Facebook or Twitter, having thousands of connections will do nothing to improve your professional image, so be strategic in your connections.

Use skills and endorsements to your advantage

Since employers will often search LinkedIn for particular skills, it’s critical that this section is complete and accurate. This is not the place for modesty. If you have a professional skill, list it.

Quick tip: You can learn how popular a particular skill is by using the skills search box on LinkedIn. This allows you to populate the section with the wording variation of each skill that’s most searched.

Since the LinkedIn algorithm values both skills and endorsements, don’t be afraid to endorse the skills of your colleagues. That may be the encouragement they need to come to your profile and endorse your skills in return. Just remember, the endorsements you make are still a reflection of you, so only endorse the skills you know are accurate for a particular connection.

Keep it current

Unlike the resume that you may only update during a job search, your LinkedIn profile should evolve and change as you do. While it’s not necessary to make daily revisions to your skills or headline, make an effort to revisit your profile regularly to remove outdated information and participate in new information technology industry discussions. Remember, a well-structured LinkedIn profile is a reflection of your personal brand, and as such, can speak volumes to recruiters and potential employers in terms of your professionalism and attention to detail.

Also, consider adding a professional picture of yourself to your LinkedIn profile. This can add a human element that keywords and headlines alone cannot achieve, making you appear more approachable and engaging than the IT profiles lacking a photographic sense of who they are.


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