Creating Your LinkedIn Profile

Today, LinkedIn has become the online version of your resume. And it’s nearly as important as the original version. When surveyed, 83% of employers expect to use social media to find candidates, and over 75% already use social media to evaluate candidates. In addition, 98% of recruiters use LinkedIn and 94.5% have successfully hired from LinkedIn.

In short, your online profile already impacts whether you get a job. Let’s get it working for you. Because, beyond providing you with an online resume, LinkedIn connects you to others who can help you land a job.

LinkedIn is a social network like Facebook. Yet, it is designed for professionals and has an entirely professional voice.

Ever heard of six degrees of separation? That’s the social theory that any two people across the entire world are at most six steps away from being introduced to one another, something like this:

Person 1 => Person1’s friend, “A” => A’s Friend “B” => B’s friend “C” => C’s friend “D” => D’s Friend “E” => E’s Friend Person 2

LinkedIn helps you connect to these first three degrees. The first degree are the people you already know. The 2nd degree connections are the people who know them. The 3rd degree connections are people who know these 2nd degree connections.

These 2nd degree connections and 3rd degree connections offer you a huge number of people who can help you land a job. We’ll get back to how to access this network of connections to get interviews at a later stage.

For now, let’s focus on creating your profile.

CREATING YOUR LINKEDIN PROFILE

If you haven’t done so already, you’ll need to sign up for a profile on LinkedIn.com. You can simply sign up with your choice of email address and password.

The fields in your LinkedIn profile in many ways parallel those of your resume. So, your new resume content will now help you create a strong online presence.

Your profile should clearly show who you are, what your specialty/niche is, how you solve problems/add value, and how you are unique and different from all of the other potential job candidates in your field.

Just like a resume or cover letter, your profile should be flawless in terms of grammar, spelling, punctuation, capitalization, sentence structure and flow, etc. If writing is not your forte, you might consider having a professional writer craft a profile for you, or at least having an editor check your writing to make sure that it’s perfect.

We’ve listed the content sections for you below. Several sections you will come back to a bit later in this process. The key, for now, is to set yourself up with a powerful profile by filling in these sections. This will help you build connections and win over employers.

1. Name

Use the professional name by which people know you, including first name and last name. If everyone calls you Nick, but your full name is Nicholas, it’s okay to use Nick. If you recently changed your name, and people in your network know you by this previous name, you can consider including both names.

2. Headline

By default, this will list your current job title. If you are currently unemployed, go ahead and change this title to the job that you want. In addition to your job title, you have space to list the top 2-4 functions that you want in your job, using keywords relevant to your industry. For example: Rather than limiting yourself to, “Market Researcher,” create something more in-depth and focused: “Market Researcher, measuring online consumer behavior using statistical analysis, Web analytics, and eCommerce best practices.” If you are currently employed, and you don’t want your employer to know you are job hunting, leave your current job as your default headline, and feel free to add your specific job functions.

3. Location

Listing your location creates an opportunity for more in-person connections. If you’re hoping or expecting to move away from your current geography, list the location where you’re hoping or expecting to move. If you don’t have a target destination, it’s okay to leave this field blank.

4. Industry

Unfortunately, you can only choose one industry. If you are attempting to switch career fields, choose the new field that you desire employment in (unless you are currently employed, as this might cause suspicion).

5. Photo

Your photo shows that you are a real person. It’s okay if you’re not a supermodel — post a photo. Do your best to use a professional looking headshot. If you don’t already have one, put on your best job interview clothes and take a well-lit photo with a plain background behind you. Consider hiring a professional, or at least ask a friend to take the shot so you don’t get any weird “selfie” angles.

6. Contact information

This section is only visible to your connections. Include your email address and phone number, along with links to any social media profiles or personal websites that represent you well.

7. Summary

This is where you include your elevator pitch. Be sure to include the relevant keywords of your job function and industry so that you can be found by hiring managers and recruiters. Add these key terms organically — meaning naturally, without impairing the readability or flow of your profile. Focus on the top attributes that make you unique and valuable to the company, along with a couple of accomplishments to back it up. The idea is to present your top “headliners” — the big points for how you will solve problems and add value for your next employer and clients.

8. Experience

Here, you will list all of your relevant work experience by position title. Simply use your resume to provide the information. If you aren’t currently working, consider adding a new job title at your own consulting firm.

9. Education

Here’s where you list the schools that you are connected to. You can also add links or files that include details about your academic experiences. LinkedIn indexes universities and specific schools within universities. This is helpful to find school-related groups. You don’t need to list your graduation years. In fact, some experts recommend omitting them if you are concerned about age discrimination.

10. Skills and Endorsements

This can be a powerful section that can help you get discovered online. LinkedIn has amassed a huge number of different skills you can select from as your strengths. Your connections can then endorse you for these skills, enhancing your credibility. In the field provided, start by typing in the skills that are most essential to the job you want. LinkedIn will help you auto-fill the rest. Just be careful to list only the essential skills for the jobs you are targeting. If you list other skills, you may start receiving more endorsements for these secondary skills, as opposed to the ones you want to promote. Not receiving any endorsements? You can increase your likelihood of getting them by endorsing others in your network.

11. Recommendations

This is an incredibly powerful section. You can ask current and past managers, co-workers, or even customers you served to write a reference for you, that a potential employer can look at any time. Don’t worry about this section right now. We’ll come back to it.

12. Additional Information

This section lets you post interests or other relevant keywords related to your career interests. These keywords can help you be found in LinkedIn searches. The section also includes fields for marital status and date of birth. Feel free to leave those blank. There’s also a “details for contacting me” section, which you can also ignore.

13. Certifications

As an extension of your education section, you can list any job-relevant certifications (optional).

14. Courses

You can add specific courses that highlight your educational accomplishments or specific skills that you developed related to specific jobs. (Optional)

15. Volunteering and causes

If you are significantly involved in any volunteering projects, you can include them here. This is especially helpful if you are pursuing a non-profit / public service role. (optional)

16. Honors and Awards. List any awards. (optional)

17. Languages. List any languages you speak. (optional)

18. Organizations

List any associations or organizations that can increase your credibility or help you create a connection.

19. Patents

If you’ve earned a patent list it here. (optional)

20. Test Scores

If you are a recent graduate and your scores can help you stand out from the competition, you may want to include them here (as well as on your resume). (optional)

21. Projects

This field will let you fill in additional details on any projects related to your education or work experience. This can be a nice way to showcase relevant experience if your overall resume doesn’t highlight the skills that are most valued for your target job (optional).
One quick (but important) note: LinkedIn will normally broadcast to your network every time you make a change to your profile. Since you are going to be making a lot of changes, leading to many notifications, you want to turn this off. Go to your settings, then select privacy settings. Click on activities broadcasts, and uncheck the box that says, “Let people know when you change your profile, make recommendations or follow companies.” Press save.

CREATING YOUR FIRST CONNECTIONS ON LINKEDIN

While you’re first creating your LinkedIn Profile, you can reach out to your closest connections. These may be close friends, family members, prior classmates, or trusted colleagues from past jobs — people who know you well and will accept your LinkedIn invitation without taking a passing glance at your profile. You want to have a good group of connections before reaching out to people you don’t know very well.

This section is designed just to get you started, to create the basic resume version of your LinkedIn Profile. It is the jumping off point to doing far more. In a later section, we will come back to using LinkedIn to help you land jobs.

As you will soon realize, LinkedIn can help you with your job search in a number of different ways.

For a few examples of solid LinkedIn profiles, take a look at: Ciaran Grace, Cara Lee, John Woodrow, Scott Skibell, Andrzej Chmiel, Roxanne Leo.