Improving Your LinkedIn Profile


One of our services at LHH of Pittsburgh is Career Management Coaching and currently we have a number of clients going through some kind of career transition or outplacement.   As we all should know by now, the key to a sucessful job search is networking and one of the 21st century networking tools is LinkedIN.  As we tell our clients, networking is essential, on-line networking is not, so if you have a better process, use it – if not, start using LinkedIn!

Recently, I reviewed a number of our client’s LinkedIN profiles and while most have the “LinkedIn 101” studies completed, I was asked to provide feedback on some of the higher level nuances and opportunities that LinkedIn represents.  The following are about a dozen areas that I found to have the most opportunity for improvement:

a.   Change the LinkedIn URL: Many people do not take advantage of this simple LinkedIn feature to change their standard URL into a more personalized URL.   The first reason to do this is because you can but  the second reason is because it does help drive your search engine results.  Another reason is because a personalized LinkedIn URL looks better on contact cards and email signatures.

b.   Industry Reference:   If you haven’t given much thought to the industry reference you use in your header information you may want to do so; this is as much an opportunity to brand yourself going forward as it is to summarize your career looking back.  I wondered with many of the profiles if that was really the industry the client wanted to reflect.  For example, a person may have chosen ‘Glass and Ceramics’  because that was their former employer’s business but something like “International Affairs” or “Logistics and Supply Chain” would better serve their profile.  I read once that city and industry are two of the most common LinkedIn searches which is probably obvious but it underscores that the one industry you choose in your header is fairly important.

c.   Summary and Specialties:  Most of the profiles had at least decent summaries but all of them probably could go back and review them again with the ‘eyes of a future employer’.   In some cases I thought they were a little thin, in more than a few  there wasn’t a summary at all and the use of the ‘Specialties” feature wasn’t too strong.  Specialties is an opportunity to list some key words that you want to make yourself searchable on within LinkedIn.  Think of this list as the 5-10 key words that summarize your ‘professional self”.  I think specialties are best when structured as a nice bullet point list for anyone reading your profile and it also serves as a clean list of key words for the internal search engine.

d.   Abbreviations: As a general rule, I don’t like abbreviations on resumes and LinkedIn profiles.  For example, I think someone who includes “Exec VP” as their title is risking the perception that they are more casual than someone who spells out “Executive Vice-President”.  No job seeker wants to create the perception that they have a ‘casual’ style. I think the same is true for company names and industry terminology.  If its important enough to include, its important enough to spell out completely.

e.   Pictures: My opinion is that all job seekers should include an uncluttered, simple, professional, picture in their profile.  It brings a human element to an otherwise data and internet driven media.  Its a feature of LinkedIn and I think those that don’t include a picture (or if the picture is in some way too cute) risk creating a negative perception such as “perhaps this person is too introverted or secretive to work at our company”.

f.  Connections:   A surprisingly small percentage of our clients had more than 100 connections; I think a job seeker should work to get to at least 100 connections based on past or current contacts and connections and then start building from there with new ones.  Even those with fairly restrictive filter disciplines should strive to get to 100 connections!

g.    LHH-Related Connections: It was interesting to me how few of our clients had ‘LinkedIn’ yet with many of the other clients.  It served to remind me that many networkers seem to overlook some of the more obvious networking sources before moving on to other sources.   Don’t overlook any organizations or groups that your participate in including career search groups, community groups, sporting groups, etc.   It can be surprising to find out who even your closest friends know professionally.

h.   Recommendations:   For the most part this was a fairly underutilized feature by our clients.  Only a small percentage had more than 2 or 3 recommendations.  I thought they all could benefit from some additional recommendations;  I often suggest that people “think 360” because I believe the best profiles show recommendations from a mix of supervisors, co-workers, subordinates, customers, and vendors.

i.  Public Profile:   If you haven’t given any thought as to what part of your LinkedIn profile is visible as your ‘public profile’ you might want to do so.  For example, I think it’s a bit much to show all your position detail and recommendations on the public profile.  That’s my opinion but regardless – if you haven’t given some thought to that aspect of your profile it’s probably worthwhile.

j.  Complete Contact Info:   I think LinkedIn profiles should include basic ‘business card’ contact information on the profile… mailing address, phone number, fax, email.   First of all your email address is only visible to your connections which LinkedIn does partly for confidentiality but also because it drives people to use LinkedIn for connecting and not going ‘outside the system’ with a phone number or direct email.  Despite LinkedIn strategies, you want your profile (including your public profile) to have the same info you would have on a contact card or resume.  You can add this contact info in either Contact Information or Personal Information.

k.  Account Settings:  If you haven’t gone into “Account and Settings” and seen what your profile is set to do, it’s probably worth going through there and making sure it reflects what you want to do.  For example, I thought it was a bit much for my connections to get an update every time I changed my profile or made a connection – I thought that could get the word ‘annoying’ attached to me.  Another person might like that feature because it keeps your networking efforts in front of your connections.  Granted that’s a personal preference but its worth looking at it.  Another feature in there is email addresses – you can attached multiple email addresses to your LinkedIn account which can be helpful if someone only knows you through your personal email for example.

l.  Attachments:   Only a handful of our clients had used the attachment application to include a resume on their profile.  For Job Seekers using LinkedIN,  I think attaching a resume is worth doing.

m.   Resume Alignment:  If you haven’t done so, you should compare your LinkedIn profile to your resume and make sure they are consistent.  Company names, titles and service dates align; name and contact information should align, education information should align.   I just think this is a good practice to do at least once.  It may not matter but if someone is serious about you – they are going to likely look at both your resume and your profile at one time or another and differences could pop out…  you want these differences to be differentiators such as “expanded information” not differences born from basic alignment errors.

Hopefully, those are some slightly higher level ideas to help make your LinkedIn profile a more effective tool to support your job search.   The best piece of LinkedIn advice I’ve heard yet is that you have to remember that tools like LinkedIn are a ‘means to an end’ not the end itself.  Too many people stop at capturing a new contact in their connection list.  It’s not a networking connection until you’ve reached out to the person and at least spoken to them to ‘catch up’ or introduce yourself if they are new to you.   Human-to-human contact is still the only networking, we just have alot of new tools to help us get there.


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2 Responses to “Improving Your LinkedIn Profile”

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