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11 Steps to Develop an Engaging LinkedIn Profile

Jul 9, 2018 8 MIN. READ

Easy steps to create an attractive and engaging LinkedIn profile that can really make you stand out to employers 

Did you know that every second, two new members join LinkedIn?

As LinkedIn recently surpassed the 500 million member milestone, it should come as no surprise that your LinkedIn profile is a great resource for building your network. This platform is rich in resources, from groups to blogs to job listings. Job seekers use the platform to enhance their job search, share quality content, and communicate online.

According to HuffPost, many users have only scratched the surface of what they can accomplish through their LinkedIn profiles. There are different types of users—such as employers, employees, business development reps, and active or passive candidates.

All users have specific reasons that drive them to use the platform. Some of the most common include:

  • To find employees to fill jobs (LinkedIn now has 3 million active job listings on the platform!)
  • To research people and companies (75.8 percent)
  • To increase face-to-face networking effectiveness (41.2 percent)

From my own experience, if you invest in updating each area of your profile, you can maximize keyword results and become more easily searchable for your industry peers. Once they locate your profile, you may notice that more connections, LinkedIn messages, and job opportunities arise.

While LinkedIn is a great supplement to your résumé when applying for a job, there is a difference between the two, and they each serve a different purpose. On LinkedIn, you have more opportunity to share your personality and expand upon your area of expertise than you do in the condensed and cut-and-dry résumé. It’s all about communicating who you are, what you do, and why you do it in a genuine and natural way.

Imagine you are meeting a new friend and casually introducing yourself for the first time. Your first interaction should leave a positive and lasting impression. We each have a unique story to share with the world, so don’t shy away from using LinkedIn as a tool to tell that story.

You can take these 11 steps to create an attractive and engaging LinkedIn profile:

1. Customize the URL.

If you customize the www.linkedin.com URL (under the “settings” option), recruiters can find you more easily, and it looks much cleaner on your résumé when adding the URL link (e.g., www.linkedin.com/in/jenavargas).

2. Include a header image.

The header section provides you with an opportunity to draw people to an attractive image or photo aligned with your personal brand. For example, some people decide to include a standard header image provided by LinkedIn profile settings while others choose an image specific to their industry or area of expertise.

Be sure you have approval to post any images, especially if they have a copyright. To add a professional touch, you could even include an on-the-job image (e.g., if you are a designer, you might want to share something you have designed).

3. Update your profile photo.

You are 14 times more likely to have your profile viewed simply by adding a profile photo. Include a photo of yourself where you have good lighting and a natural smile. While a headshot is recommended, you can decide which photo would be most ideal. From a recruiter’s perspective, it’s great to see you working within your professional environment, so an on-the-job profile photo could work, too. Remember, this may be your very first impression for future employers and/or clients to consider you for an opportunity!

People don’t care how much you know; they want to know the type of person you are and how much you care.

4. Capture your personality in a headline.

Your LinkedIn headline is like the headline of a news story. People won’t engage if you do not draw their attention or raise enough curiosity to read further. When users post their headline copy as: “Looking for a New Job, Sales Person, Vice President,” or something similar, it’s simply not descriptive enough to engage readers to learn more about you. When writing your headline, make sure it’s a true reflection of who you are and what you do, and ensure it is relevant to your target market.

Here are some examples of LinkedIn headlines from Undercover Recruiter:

  • Greg Savage: Founder and CEO of Firebrand Talent Search. Manager and builder of staffing businesses across the world.
  • Head honcho, headhunter, sometime head-shrinker and living proof that the only good recruiter is NOT a dead recruiter!

LinkedIn headline pointers:

  • Your headline is the 1–3 lines underneath your name.
  • You are provided with 120 characters including spaces for your headline.
  • Don’t just describe who you are and what you do.
  • Consider how you bring value or benefit the viewer.
  • Think of the keywords others might use when trying to find candidates with your skills.
  • Try using commas or vertical bars (I) to separate phrases.
  • Do not use all uppercase letters.

5. Write a compelling summary.

I consider this section the most important to tell future employers more about who you are and what you do by using 50–100 words. Keep your tone and message as direct, clear, and friendly as possible.

Less is best when it comes to how we communicate via social media. The easier it is to understand what you have to offer, the more likely companies and employers are to buy it. Unless you establish this from the start, no one is going to care much about your area of expertise and personal brand.

Use these questions to guide your thinking as you work on crafting a compelling personal brand summary:

  • Past: How did you get started in your industry?
  • Present: How did you arrive professionally to where you are today?
  • Future: Where are you headed over the next five years?

Within each of these, you can include key achievements, awards, career milestones, endorsements, and even your failures as it adds to the human element of your profile; it’s a great way to own your experiences and demonstrate your growth.

6. Showcase your education.

Keep in mind that when members add their education to their LinkedIn profile, their profiles gain 10 times more views!

This section of your profile is helpful if you’d like to reconnect with alumni from the same college or university. And if you are interested in a job posting, LinkedIn will tell you if someone you went to the school with currently works with a specific company. You can also see if alumni from the school are part of current discussions and groups.

7. Commit to consistent activity and/or articles.

This section of your LinkedIn profile helps increase your searchability and gain credibility within your industry as a subject matter expert. Commit to sharing content consistently, whether it’s a weekly, biweekly, or monthly rhythm.

You don’t always have to share an original piece of work; you can share articles from your current company or industry and world news, and you can also re-share content from within your network.

8. Highlight your skills and endorsements.

LinkedIn’s endorsements section allows users to endorse their connections for skills they’ve listed in the Skill & Endorsements section of their profile—or they can recommend one not yet listed. Once completed, these endorsements show up on your profile within the section.

To highlight the skill sets you bring to a position, it is important to understand industry and job description keywords to include in your skills section. An added bonus? Members who include their skills get around 13 times more profile views.

9. Ask your connections for references to gain credibility.

References from former supervisors, clients, co-workers, and customers who have quality information to share regarding your qualities, skills, and value are great to include on your profile. It’s helpful if you share a short note reminding your potential reference about the projects you previously worked on together.

10. Join industry groups.

Joining LinkedIn communities within your industry can provide meaningful connections for job seeking and skills development. Collaborating and building genuine relationships with peers is very important to grow your professional network. These groups will typically discuss timely news that affects members of the community, whether it is an alumni group, an interest affinity, or an entire professional industry. You can ask questions, learn best practices, find mentorship opportunities, and keep in touch with your network by taking advantage of LinkedIn groups. On your profile, you can determine whether to share or hide your group membership.

11. Treat your volunteer experience like work experience.

Forty two percent of hiring managers surveyed by LinkedIn said they consider volunteer experience as equivalent to formal work experience. Not only can you add your existing volunteer experience to your profile, but you can also explore volunteer opportunities to give back to others within your community and gain transferable skill sets you might not easily obtain elsewhere.

A captivating profile is key to your success on LinkedIn. It’s your first representation to the online networking world when promoting yourself to future employers, potential clients, and the business world. While steps included in this article lay the groundwork for creating an engaging LinkedIn profile, make sure you continue to update your profile throughout your career.

What actions do you take to create and develop an engaging LinkedIn profile? Are there specific ideas or questions that you’ve found most useful? We’d love to hear from you on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Just tag @JoinICF!

Questions or thoughts? Contact the author, Jena Vargas, or visit the ICF Careers site.

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