The ultimate step by step guide to creating a comprehensive and professional LinkedIn profile
Having a LinkedIn profile is a fantastic way of keeping up to date with the latest news in your industry, as well as connecting and sharing with other like minded business professionals. Around 80% of LinkedIn subscribers consider networking to be important to the success of their career. So if you haven’t already signed up, now would be a great time to get things started – it’s never too late!
Here’s our ultimate step by step guide on how to create a comprehensive and professional LinkedIn profile.
Why you should be on LinkedIn
There are currently over 660 million users of LinkedIn in around 200 countries and regions worldwide. That’s a staggering statistic and probably comes at a surprise to most people. Due to the popularity of this business networking site you can understand why so many opportunities present themselves to job seekers and employers. You can’t afford not to have a profile in today’s networking world, and the sooner you get your profile started the quicker you will be able to take your career to new heights.
As the site continues to gain users and expand into other areas of both social and business networking, employers are increasingly aware of how beneficial LinkedIn can be for both job seeker and business owner. Many years ago headhunting would mainly occur through word of mouth and referrals. As such, the very thought of being headhunted over a decade ago would have been the last thought on a job seekers mind. However, with so many millions of people all connected to each other, the thought of being headhunted is now an active solution to finding employment.
An employer will routinely expect to see a link to a candidates LinkedIn profile on their CV. The hiring manager could potentially favour a candidate that has a comprehensive profile to someone who has either a bare profile or none at all. A study conducted in March 2019 concluded that a job seeker with a comprehensive LinkedIn profile was 71% more likely to get a job interview. One of the most interesting aspects of this study was that the results showed a slightly lesser chance of getting an interview with a ‘bare bones’ profile when compared with no profile at all.
So if you are going to create a LinkedIn profile and attach the details to your CV or résumé, it better be a good one. The value that a comprehensive profile can add to your overall application is clearly huge, and cannot be underestimated.
How to create an effective and comprehensive LinkedIn profile
Like with any other sign up service you will be required to provide an email address. It goes without saying that you should use an email address that you have constant access to which can be checked from home or on the move with your mobile. We would also advise creating a brand new email address when creating a new LinkedIn profile – and here’s why.
Create a professional email address
When choosing an email address you should always create one which has your name included. Here’s how it could look – ‘email@example.com’. It’s simple and effective because it helps connect your credentials to your contact details. If you had any intention of using a funny or wacky email address, then reject the idea immediately. It isn’t appropriate and some employers could be put off. ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ should be used for your friends and family only.
Creating a new email address can also make it much easier to spot any potential opportunities. Old emails naturally attract a lot of spam over time, and you could lose out on a job offer or meeting because you deleted it or missed it altogether.
When signing up to the site you should allow LinkedIn to access your email contacts so you can instantly connect and share to the people you already know. If you are creating a new email address specifically for LinkedIn then you may need to re-connect with everybody you know first.
Choose free or paid subscriptions
There are two types of accounts to choose from – basic (free) and premium (paid). Click here to find out what these two accounts offer so you can decide which is right for you. There are 3 main reasons why you may decide to choose the premium option. Here they are:
- You can see who looked at your profile
- Access to better stats (how many people view your profile)
- You get a LinkedIn premium badge to display.
Knowing who looked at your profile has many benefits. First of all, it’s great to know the type of professionals that are looking at your details. This helps shape your profile and ensures you are creating a relevant profile and attracting the right people. Another benefit of knowing who viewed your profile is that you can connect to more people and create opportunities. You can target people who seemed interested in your credentials and begin a dialogue that could open a few doors.
Add a photo
If you are a little shy and would prefer not to upload a photo then remember this – you can get up to 21 times more profile views if you have a photo. This figure alone should be enough to convince you to upload one. But it’s important not to choose a picture in a rush just to create your profile, as it needs to look professional.
Consider having a professional headshot taken, or at the very least choose the best image from your smartphone. As long as your mobile has a high quality camera, you should be able to create a professional looking image. Choose 720p or 1080p for the best quality.
Use a current image and make sure you use up at least 60% of the frame on your face. You should always be the only person in the picture, and put on your biggest and best smile. Ask a friend or family member to help choose your image so you can ensure it’s the right one. For additional help here are 10 tips for picking the right LinkedIn profile picture.
Did you know that graduates with work experience are 3 times more likely to get a job when compared with other students? But if you are a recent graduate or school leaver with very little or even no work experience, there are lots of ways you can bolster your LinkedIn profile and CV.
Voluntary work is one of the most widely recognised routes to work experience and learning new skills. Do-it.org is a website that allows you to search for available positions in your area, so you shouldn’t haven’t any problems finding something quickly that suits your schedule.
Spend as much time as possible creating a fantastic list of your previous jobs with the most important of tasks, duties and responsibilities. LinkedIn also has a new ‘experience design’ to help you get the most from your career history. Click here for more information on how to create a unique and effective work experience profile.
You can add up to 50 skills on your profile, but you need at least 3 in your Skills and Endorsements section for them to be categorised. As a minimum we would recommend at least 5-6 skills. Any fewer than this would look too bare – and we know how employers react to a bare profile!
List the most important and valuable skills, and avoid anything that would just be padding out this section. There is nothing wrong with listing 20 or even 30 skills, but the more you list the more an employer has to read. Keep everything relevant to your chosen career and ensure you use the typical industry jargon for those skills.
Hard or specific skills are often listed here, but you can also consider a few soft skills to help demonstrate your interpersonal skills and daily generic traits. But don’t just go for a generic description like ‘communication’ or ‘problem solver’, and instead go for keywords like ‘presentation’ and ‘data analysis’. Although these skills could also be categorised as specific, it helps to incorporate skills which prove you can interact with other co-workers efficiently and have a proven track record in achieving results.
Here’s a fantastic article which will help you to optimise your skills and endorsements section – Secret to Powerful LinkedIn Profile SEO: Leverage Skills & Endorsements.
In some industries qualifications are a must, so it’s important to take your time with this section and ensure you enter the relevant details an employer would hope to see. Start with the most relevant and distinguished qualifications and work your way down to the least relevant. Avoid listing something which has no bearing on your career at all, and only include grades and qualifications which add value to your profile.
Keywords play an important part when you create a LinkedIn profile, so make sure you include as many as possible. When the employer uses the search tool you want to show up frequently because you’ve littered each section with industry keywords and jargon. For additional help in creating a stand out educational section, here are 5 Tips to make the most of ‘education’ on your LinkedIn Profile.
Don’t forget to include any training seminars or in house training courses. You don’t have to stick to the standard school, college and university achievements and anything associated with your career is relevant and valuable.
A well written professional summary can make or break a LinkedIn profile. Whilst some choose to leave it blank or only write a few sentences, those that wish to take advantage and provide employers with more of an insight choose to go much further.
The total amount of characters you can use is 2,000, which equates to around 350-400 words. How much you decide to write depends greatly on your career and how much you have to discuss. With an extensive amount of experience and lots of awards, accolades, achievements and qualifications to your name – writing a summary of only 400 words won’t be a problem. But you don’t always have to capitalise on the amount of words or characters you’re allowed, and a brief and snappy summary could assist the busiest of employers who want to skim read only.
This is your chance to snag opportunities and draw people into your credentials. It has to be positive, upbeat, snappy, passionate, and above all else – one of a kind! Use your summary to show your unique passion for your career and high interest in the industry. Choose only your most impressive accolades and results to make a positive first impression and open the door to lots of opportunities. For additional tips and to see some examples – click here.
The headline is extremely important as it will sit at the top of your profile and must describe what you do in 120 characters or less. If you have a recognised job title then you should be fine to use that. However, be careful not to use something which would confuse everyone outside of the industry circle, and avoid a title which is complicated and technical for the sake of it. This can come across as arrogant and could confuse an employer as to what you specialise in.
A formula you can use to create a professional headline is to state your job title followed by whom you help or what you do – it’s that simple. Here is an example of how it could look:
Customer Service Manager | Dedicated to providing exceptional customer service in the energy industry
This headline clearly identifies what the person does and the industry they work in. You can also opt for a short list of what you cover. Here’s another example:
Product Manager | Mobile, SaaS, startups, sales strategies, product to Market, and partnerships.
A big no-no is to use cliché words and phrases which are essentially bragging. Words like:
- Hard working
- Expert in the field
- Best in the industry
- Number one
This could devalue your profile and potentially put a lot of employers off. There is nothing wrong with showcasing your talents, but always use accurate words and phrases to describe your abilities and skills rather than buzzwords and cliché statements.
Additional information – hobbies
This section allows you to inject some personality into your profile and you can list hobbies and extra-curricular activities. Although reading and walking the dog might not add any value to your profile, there are some hobbies and interests that can. Skydiving, captain of the sports team, playing in a band, model train building – are all hobbies which can be linked to soft skills used within the workplace.
Sporty hobbies demonstrate determination, competitive nature, hard working, healthy (less sick days), good communication and team working abilities. Someone who builds model trains demonstrates a keen eye and a high attention to detail, as well as a creative mind.
Don’t underestimate what your hobbies say about you and how they can catch the attention of a hiring manager or potential connections. You are looking to create an overall picture of your professional abilities and your personality. A LinkedIn profile has the platform to do just that, but you have to take advantage of each and every section if you want to create a comprehensive online profile and portfolio.
Now that you’ve completed your profile it’s time to start building a network and create some opportunities.
Building a network
The time has now come to build your network and connect to as many like minded professionals as possible. The larger the network, the more opportunities will present themselves. Having a good network also helps to stay in touch with your industry, learn, share and connect with those in the know.
But how do you build a network? Here are 6 handy tips to get you started.
- Start by going through LinkedIn’s own list of ‘people you may know’ to see who you’d like to connect with. However, rather than clicking on the connect button here, you should instead go into their profile and connect from there. This will now allow you to send a short message and increase your chances of being accepted. Keep it brief and friendly, and help them understand why you want to connect and who you are. This will really help when you are going over a list of people you’ve met from seminars or conferences.
- Connect to the people you meet through seminars, meetings, voluntary work, part time work, business owners, and so on. Establishing a connection the good old fashion way via a face to face meeting will increase the likelihood that you connect to each other through LinkedIn.
- Give yourself a target and track your progress. Set reasonable goals for the amount of new connections each month or week and then try and stick to it. You will be more motivated to connect and your numbers will dramatically increase if you are tracking the progress.
- The more you engage, post, comment, like and share – the more likely you are to receive connection requests. LinkedIn is not just about creating a profile and then leaving it to gather dust. You have to constantly share and connect to other professionals if you want to build up a network and create lots of opportunities. An employer will not come knocking on your door if you have a bare bones profile, and other users are unlikely to want to connect with someone who rarely contributes.
- Post your URL LinkedIn profile to other social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter. You may have hundreds or even thousands of friends and followers that you can advertise too, and even just a handful will help the growth of your network. Each new connection could bring many more to the fold.
- Sharing articles that would interest the community is a great way to contribute. But an even better way is to share your own articles or bodies of work. This will raise your reputation even higher and allow others to see your abilities. There is a stark contrast between someone who shares industry content and someone who creates it, and an employer will recognise that.
How to optimise your LinkedIn profile – a short SEO guide
The use of industry keywords within your LinkedIn profile will allow someone to find your details much quicker. The more relevant keywords you use, the more likely someone is to come across your profile and read what you have to offer.
An accountant could use words like CPA, audit, tax return, chartered accountant, and so on. A web developer could use these keywords – website design, web builder, web development, logo design, and WordPress. Many employers search for specific keywords when looking to hire, so it’s important you contain as many as possible that relate to your career.
However, you shouldn’t completely fill your profile with industry terms and jargon just to attract employers. Your profile needs to be professional and organised, and not just a blatant advertisement of your skills and qualifications.
Use your own judgment to decide what keywords to use and how many. Make a list before you complete your profile or to add at a later date, and start with the most obvious and relevant first. If you were an employer, what specific skills or qualifications would you search for? Answer this question to help choose the right keywords.