A full profile is a happy profile that will help you get noticed. Here are tips for making your LinkedIn profile professional, searchable, and loaded with the skills you bring to the table:
1. Include a photo to add credibility and give others a deeper sense of connection to your online presence. You are more likely to be clicked in search results and have your invitations to connect accepted if you include a photo on your profile.
A professionally taken photo looks best if you can afford it, but if not, have someone take a good headshot of you with a neutral background that shows you looking professional and friendly. Your official military photo, while professional-looking, isn’t the best choice as it doesn’t show the recruiter how you’d look at their company.
Keep in mind that your photo will not only be seen when you come up in a search or when someone views your profile. It also appears, for example, on someone’s profile you’ve endorsed or recommended, next to your discussions or comments, and when LinkedIn suggests you as someone others may know.
2. Create a descriptive Headline that reflects your top skills, goals and personal brand. Use keywords here for search-ability, including the skills your target audience is looking for. Saying you’re “transitioning from the Navy” leaves a recruiter guessing what skills you have and what job you’re targeting. Do the hard part for them by pointing out exactly why they should check out your profile.
The headline is right up there in importance with your photo, so make those 120 characters count!
3. Edit your public profile URL, which is the web address that points to your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn assigns this URL when you create your account, but it contains random characters after your name that you should clean up. While in edit profile mode, click the Edit link next to your LinkedIn URL (found below your photo). To the right you will see options for customizing your public profile. Below those options there is a link to “Customize your public profile URL.” Click that link to remove the random characters so it ends with your name. This makes the URL look cleaner and more recognizable when sharing the link on your resume, in your email signature, on your transitioning business cards, etc.
4. Use the Summary to highlight your strengths. This section is your 30-second elevator pitch. Describe your accomplishments and what you bring to the table. Use keywords important in your career field that recruiters would likely be searching for. The Specialties part of your summary is a place to list keywords that are your strengths. Include transferable skills you acquired from your military service (e.g. leadership, team work, strong work ethic, decision making in adverse conditions) that transfer across disciplines, especially if you are starting on a new career path. Keep your summary short and sweet, with either bullets or a few brief paragraphs to define your brand.
5. List all of your current and past employers and education. Include your top keywords in the job titles, and load the work descriptions with keywords that describe your skills and accomplishments. If a past job has nothing to do with your current career field, list it with a short description, using those transferable skills to describe your duties and responsibilities. Listing all your past employers and education will help you find relevant connections and build your network.
6. Add keywords to the Skills section that are relevant to your career field. List the skills that are your strengths, since other users will be endorsing the skills you list here. Check the profiles of colleagues and those in your career field to get ideas on what skills and keywords to use throughout your profile.
7. Ask for recommendations from people in your LinkedIn network. Hover over the triangle next to Edit and select “Ask to be recommended.” A good rule of thumb is to have 2-3 recommendations from managers, supervisors, colleagues, etc., from each job listed in the employment section of your profile. Also get recommendations from those you’ve done volunteer work for.
Share Your Profile
Now that your profile is complete and beefed up, share it with others. Add your public profile URL to your resume, email signature, and transition business cards. Save your LinkedIn profile as a PDF file to attach to emails or print out and include with your job applications (hover over the triangle next to Edit and click on Export to PDF in the drop down box).
The more complete your LinkedIn profile is, the more likely you are to come up in a recruiter’s search. Recruiters and hiring managers are using LinkedIn to find candidates who are a good match for their openings, and if that’s you, make sure they know it from your profile!
About the Author
Karin Durkee is the Director of Social Media for Corporate Gray. She is a military spouse, educator, technology consultant, and author of “Social Media and Your Job Search: Maximizing Your Network for a Successful Transition.” Karin presents social media workshops to transitioning military members on installations in the Washington, D.C. area.
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