You will probably find your next job through your LinkedIn profile. It is the go-to site for employers to check you out. If you want to stand out from the competition, make sure your profile does you justice. Here’s how…
How to write a stand out LinkedIn profile
When you are looking for a job or trying to drum up business, what is the first thing a potential employer does? You know it, they jump on LinkedIn.
This is where they get a sense of who you are, what you’re about and what you’ve done. This is the face of your personal brand that anyone can view 24/7.
At the time of writing, there are over 774 million LinkedIn profiles. Yes, there are about 2.5 new profiles being uploaded every second. You need to stand out. The first thing you need to know about how to write a LinkedIn profile is that people what to know who you are. There are lots of qualified people but they want to find the right person.
Your personal brand
Your LinkedIn profile is where you can deliver “Why me.” It is not just a C.V. with a list of names and dates, it’s more than that. This is where potential employers and clients go to get a feel for who you are. This is the first filter they use to ask, “Can we work with this person?”
Use your profile to give people a glimpse of the human behind words. This is where you deliver an elevator pitch. You have a few seconds to make a lasting impression. Artists have used the power of a personal brand for decades to get their work noticed. Self-branding is now an essential tool all of us can use .
What you want to do is to leave people with a sense of who you are and what you stand for. You can’t do that with just a bunch of dates or a dry lifeless description. Let people know what makes you, you. What do you care about, what are your passions in life, what gets you up in the morning?
Your profile should be human centric. This is you connecting with another human being who has to decide in a few seconds whether they want to stand in the same room with you. If they can’t see or imagine a personality, you won’t make an impression. Write from the heart. Tell your story, not the cliched phrases of a professional position.
Smile - upload a photo
This is not a dating app, you don’t have to look like a supermodel. People want to see you. We are humans, we like to see other humans, especially the ones that we might be working with, so don’t be shy.
Profiles with photos get 9x more connection requests, 21x more profile views and 36x more messages than profiles without photos.
Use a photo that is representative of you, that people will recognise if they meet you in person.
Of course keep it relevant, if you are going for an office job, no one wants to see you in your board shorts – that would be just weird. Make it approachable, up to date, a head and shoulders shot against a nice simple, uncluttered background, so the focus is on you.
The headline, the short descriptor just below your name, is a chance for you to inject a bit of personality. This will usually be the role you are in now and the company you are with but you can also add a bit of colour. Be unique, try and describe the value you add.
If you look at mine, it is what I do – copywriter and content creator. I could have just left it at that but I wanted to inject some personality, a little bit of me, so I added a descriptor of the value I can add – I paint pictures with words.
For a start, don’t be a robot and talk in the third person, “David delivers profit.” No, use the first person, this is your voice, you talking. “I make it my mission to deliver.” It is much more powerful.
This is always the hardest part to write but it is the part that works hardest for you, so give it a little bit of love, write it, get someone to read it and give you feedback. Never ignore it.
Think about what drives you, what are your aspirations, your guiding principles, the stuff that is important to you. What value can you add to the profession you are in? Where you’ve worked and the achievements you’ve made are coming later. This part is the essence of what drives you.
There is not much space – basically 40+ words. If you write more it will get hidden and the reader will have to open the window more to find out more. Let’s assume the reader has ten more candidates they want to check out, so unless they are really committed they are just going to see those first 40 words so make them engaging.
This is where you shine. Tell your brand story.
This is where you can add some visual elements to your profile and visuals are much better at stopping a scrolling thumb than words.
In the ‘Featured’ section you can add rich media – highlight a post, an article, a website or visual content.
The goal is to showcase content that adds understanding of your active role in the business you care about. LinkedIn is a networking tool but also a shop window. What are you like when you stand in front of a shop window? Your eyes are attracted to the most interesting displays.
Highlight media that reflects who you are. Writing posts or articles feels scary for some people, putting your opinion out there, but it is a chance to paint a clearer picture of who you are. It doesn’t have to be just be your business activity. Posting about things that you feel strongly about brings the reader closer to you.
The dictionary definition is – The knowledge or skill acquired by the period of practical experience of something, especially that gained in a particular profession.
The reader wants to know what did you learn, what were your key achievements and milestones? What did you bring to the party? What were you proud of? This is a description of the active side of your experience – the kind that elicits an emotional response. You want a “Hmmm” or a “Wow”
This is not a tick list, so steer away from a list of duties and responsibilities, you can always turn those into actions, the things you did or learned from or were proud of. You are re-enforcing your profile, this is the evidence of what motivates you or makes you tick.
Don’t be worried about gaps. You just want to list relevant experience of where you want to go. If you’ve had a year travelling the globe of working behind a bar somewhere – nobody cares. They want to know what you will bring to the party.
Don’t forget the courses you have been on at work or have done online – things that have improved your ability to add value to your next position.
People who add five or more skills receive seventeen times more profile views.
Ask yourself what skills do you want people to associate with you? What kind of rockstar are you? This channeling where you want to grow your career.
They will not magically appear on your profile, you will have to ask. If you are like me, that will make you feel very uncomfortable but you will be surprised. People are usually more than happy to provide a recommendation and it is quite heartwarming to read the positive feedback you will get.
It is also extremely valuable. Have a look at Amazon. If you are like me you will always read the customer rating. It builds trust and makes your account of yourself credible. It just might be the straw that gets you over the line. So, request a recommendation from your peers.
Be aware that people can read the recommendations you have given to other people, so make sure that these are inline with your personal brand.
This is right at the bottom of the page, so it has to be the least interesting but it will corroborate the attitudes you have been outlining in your profile.
Joining groups in your sphere of interest or following companies and influencers will also expose you to interesting content that you can share with your network, evidence that you are engaged and active within your profession.
I kept this to the end because it is not a writing suggestion but it is still very important that you take a bit of time to find an image that represents you. It will be the first thing that people see, you want that to reflect the personal brand you are presenting to the world.
Keep it simple. It will be re-sized by every different device but 50% of your views will happen on a mobile and the image will reduces to a sliver at the top of the screen. The recommended cover size is 1584 x 396 pixels.
To get the most from LinkedIn, you should engage with the platform. If you want to be found, be seen and considered then you need to take part.
By creating posts or even sharing other people’s posts you are interacting with your network. More people are going to see you in their feeds and they can also see how active you are on the network.
Share links, articles or images you think other people in your network will be interested in. It will benefit you. Don’t get all wrapped up in how to write a post, just be you. Say what is on your mind and don’t forget to @tag people that you mention or #tag subjects you are covering. The idea is to draw people into the conversation. Help yourself to be found.
If you are not used to doing it, it’s hard. Start with one post a week, set yourself a deadline and rinse and repeat. In a short time you will be drawing other people to your profile.
One final word and it is totally obvious but don’t make spelling mistakes. This is you in the shop window, looking forward so triple check what you write and don’t rely on spellcheck to catch your mistakes. I have written a piece about how to avoid those embarrassing mistakes – and they are very easy to make when you get excited about what you are writing. Good luck.