Whether or not you're embarking on a job search, it's high time to take a look at your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn has become more than an online resume but a living, breathing platform for your work and leadership online. It doesn't matter if you don't plan on leaving your role anytime soon.
If you're customer-facing or looking to become an expert in your field, then having an optimized LinkedIn profile is a must. I'll walk you through the most important and underlooked spots on your profile so you can stand out among the crowd and wow your customers, colleagues, and potential business contacts.
First, before we do anything: Set your profile so that none of these updates will be public. The way LinkedIn works, every little change shows up in people's feeds. Especially if you're on the job hunt, this is a clear signal to your employer that you might be getting ready to leave—hide it!
Define Your Personal Brand
Before you make any actual changes, take a step back and think about your story. How do you want to show off your skills and talents? What drives you? This should be woven throughout your profile so readers see something cohesive. It's ok if you have job experiences all over the map; it's about how you show those experiences and the words you use to describe them that matter.
Tell Your Story
Now that you know who you are and what you care about, you can start telling your story. Start with the basics:
- A headshot that's high-resolution, ideally professionally taken.
- A title that says why you're there, not what you do. Avoid titles that aren't translatable to others or are filled with jargon and instead use this space to tell your why—or at least what you actually do every day.
- An about you that provides color about your personality, your objectives, and what you care about. This takes time but is the most important part of your LinkedIn profile, and what sets you apart. This list from the Muse is a great start if you're stumped on crafting your story.
I'm in a creative field, so I create. For every single work experience, I make sure to add something that I've created, whether on the Internet or via PDF, so that I can show off what I can do. It's imperative to include media on every entry so that you can add more color to your story.
And if you're not creative? That's fine too. At a minimum, include your company's website, especially if it's a startup or less well known.
Include Social Proof
It might seem weird to ask for recommendations when you're not planning on going anywhere—but you have to. Social proof adds a layer of credibility to your profile and shows that you're not all talk. Reach out to old colleagues, friends, and managers and ask them for recommendations. Don't be afraid to recommend them in return.
And if you are job searching, many recruiters search for candidates using keywords, like anyone—and your skills section is basically a set of keywords that shows them what you can do. If they're looking for someone with a certain set of skills (cue Liam Neeson here) that's the first place they'll find you.
Standing out isn't that hard on LinkedIn if you put in the extra effort. There are plenty of other aspects of your profile you can add, like volunteer work, education, and so on, but it's these basics that really maximize your profile.