It's safe to say I've critiqued/written hundreds of LinkedIn profiles. What's most important in a profile is that it brands the LinkedIn member; it sends a clear, consistent message of the value the member will deliver to employers. Does your profile brand you?
In this article we'll look at nine sections of your profile where you should focus on branding yourself. When you accomplish this, you'll have a profile that will help you land a job.
I call this section the Snapshot area because that’s exactly what it is: a snapshot of who you are. This section includes your background image, photo, and headline as the major components which have an immediate effect on your branding.
Your background image can serve to brand you by letting visitors know the type of work you do. For my background image, I proudly display my LinkedIn Top Voices recognition. Other members might use a background image that speaks more to their personal interests.
If you think a photo is unnecessary, you are sadly mistaken. A profile sans photo gives the impression you can’t be trusted. In addition, people won’t recognize and remember you. LinkedIn says profiles with photos are 21 times more likely to be viewed than those without.
Perhaps most important is your headline. It's what people first read about you and can determine if they open your profile. It might be enough for someone to accept an invite from you if written well.
Headlines that say things like “Seeking Employment” or “Finance Manager at Company X” are ineffective, as they fail to show value.
Rather, your Headline should brand you like this: “Finance Manager at Company X | Financial Planning and Analysis | Auditing | Saving Organizations Millions.”
This is where you tell your story, which can include the passion you have for your occupation, a statement about your expertise, or even explain how you’re changing your career.
You’ll want to use close to the 2,000 characters allowed in About in order to include the keywords your profile needs to boost your visibility. But your About section must also be compelling. It should mention accomplishments that will capture the reader’s attention.
Common mistake. Failure to show creativity or your personality are huge mistakes. You should write your About section in either first or third-person point of view. Don’t simply copy your Summary from your resume and paste it in the About section.
When I review people's profiles, I pay special attention to this section. It tells me how engaged a person has been on LinkedIn. To brand yourself successfully, you want to show that you've engaged with your connections. Do you have to write articles? That would be ideal but not necessary.
I will click "See all activity" to see how if a person is a player on LinkedIn. If I see the person hasn't used LinkedIn in months, I will not be impressed; neither will hiring authorities.
I’m often asked by job seekers how they should address the experience section of their profile. I tell them they have two options: They can either write a section that resembles the work history found on their resume, or they can use their experience section to highlight only their most important accomplishments.
I favor the latter approach, but some think their profile might be the only document an employer sees, so they believe showing all is the way to go. What’s most important in building your brand is listing accomplishments with quantified results.
Good: Increased productivity by implementing a customer relations management (CRM) system.
Better: Initiated and implemented – before the deadline – a customer relations management (CRM) system that increased productivity by 58%.
It’s a good idea to use bullets to highlight your accomplishments. One of my LinkedIn connections, Donna Serdula, has created a handy list of bullets and symbols you can copy and paste for use on your own profile.
Many people neglect this section, choosing to simply list the institution they attended, the degree they received, and their date of graduation. This might be the norm for resumes, but LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to further support your brand by telling the story of your education.
Take Mary who completed her bachelor’s degree while working full-time – a major accomplishment in itself. If she wants to show off her work ethic and time management skills, she might write a description like this:
University of Massachusetts, Lowell, MA
Bachelor of Science, Mechanical Engineering, Magna Cum Laude
While working full time at Company A, I attended accelerated classes at night for four years (two years less than typically expected). I also participated as an instructor in an online tutoring program, helping first-year students with their engineering classes. I found this to be extremely rewarding.
Build your brand by showing visitors that you are utilizing your skills and developing new ones. It's fine to volunteer for what I call "a good cause," but to show people you're serious about your occupation, you'll volunteer at a host agency that requires your expertise.
(If you volunteer for a significant amount of time, I feel it's fine to list this experience in your Experience section, as long as you write "Volunteer Experience" beside your job title.)
A healthy Skills section consisting of 30-50 skills is another way to strengthen your brand. The skills you decide to list should demonstrate your expertise. Do not list skills you are simply familiar with.
To further enhance your brand, the skills may be endorsed by your first-degree LinkedIn connections. If you’re unsure as to which skills to endorse, here is a previous article of mine that can help you.
This is a section I talk about in my LinkedIn workshops, and I always stress how valuable it is to receive recommendations from others, as well as write them for others. By receiving recommendations, you show the value you bring to employers. Meanwhile, writing recommendations shows your authority and what you value in workers. Either way, recommendations are a great way to brand you.
Certifications, Organizations, and Projects are listed under Accomplishments. Prior, they had their own real estate, but now they’re buried under this header. And yes, they must be expanded like most sections.
You can still brand yourself by pointing out in your About section a project or two that you completed on time and under budget while managing a team of six.
These are just some sections on your LinkedIn profile that contribute to supporting your strong personal brand. Next read 4 Types of People You Should Connect with and How to Do It.
Bob McIntosh, CPRW, is a career trainer who leads more than 25 job search workshops and webinars at MassHire Lowell Career Center, Lowell, MA. He also meets with high-level job seekers on an individual basis, where he critiques their résumés and LinkedIn profiles, conducts mock interviews and provides salary negotiating advice.
One of Bob’s proudest accomplishments is creating the first LinkedIn program at MassHire Career Center (then Career Center of Lowell) and developing workshops to support the program. Job seekers from across the state attend his LinkedIn workshops.
Bob has gained a reputation as a LinkedIn authority in the community. He offers LinkedIn profile and strategy services to private clients. Recently he was awarded on of LinkedIn's Top Voices for 2019.
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