We’re living in the digital age of recruitment. Digital employers, digital applicants, digital application processes. Recent studies have shown that around 70% of employers check the social media profiles of job applicants. Often employers won’t even contact a candidate for an interview if they do not have a digital footprint.

LinkedIn is a great tool for showcasing your skills, experience and professional persona.  It is a platform that allows your name and face to be presented to hundreds of professionals in your industry so having an updated, well-customised profile is essential. Essential to attracting employers is being precise about the role you are looking for.  Having a clear vision and transparent career path will give employers confidence that you are serious about the role and are in it for the long haul.

It goes without saying that incorrect grammar and spelling will immediately put potential employers off, so checking your profile and proofreading the copy is absolutely essential.  Employers love to see achievements and periods of self-development and there are many things you can do to make your LinkedIn profile stand out. We’re going to outline the key steps you can take to polish your profile and make it reflect you as the perfect candidate.

1. Choose the right profile picture.

Putting a face to a name is the first step towards a great LinkedIn profile.  Your profile picture is a major part of your LinkedIn identity as it is the first thing people see and it governs their first impressions of you.  The main things to consider when selecting a profile picture is that it should be recent and look like you.  Try to ensure that your face takes up over half the image and wear what you would wear to work. A good profile image helps you to stand out from the crowd and can increase the credibility of your profile.  It is a known fact that profiles with great profile images get more clicks.

2. Use a catchy headline

Your headline is another really useful way to give employers an idea of your personality.  The headline has a prime position nestled below your name and is usually the first thing visitors read when they visit a profile.  The default value of this section reverts to your current employment position but you actually have 120 characters that you can use to provide an engaging introduction to yourself.  Optimise your headline for the job you want to find so that employers can easily see the career path you are following.

3. Create an engaging summary

The summary section of LinkedIn allows you to go into more detail about your history, success stories and achievements.  It’s a good place to talk about your strengths and what skills and value you can bring to your next employer.  Using keywords that are relevant to the career and industry you want to gain employment in is really important here.  This section should express your drive and motivation to those who view your profile and should not be rushed.  Run your summary past friends and family for feedback and don’t make it too long and drawn out.  There is a 2000 character limit but it is advisable to stay well within that limit.

4. Highlight your experience

Filling your headline and summary with generic buzzwords and adjectives carries very little weight.  Employers need to see how those skills have translated into real-life experience and success.  Now we are not saying avoid terms like ‘leadership’, ‘passionate’ and ‘team player’ but be aware that they are overused and you will need to demonstrate the impact you have made in other ways.   Be sure to include any jobs that you would consider relevant to the role and use two or three engaging and impressive bullet points within those job descriptions to highlight what you achieved within the respective role.   A list of skills on your profile is a great way of showcasing your abilities in a short digestible form. After all, people’s attention spans are low so you need to get the most valuable information across to employers in the least amount of text. 

5. List your skills

Listing your skills is simple with LinkedIn’s dropdown and select functionality.  Simply scroll through the list of skills provided and select those that are relevant to you and the role you seek.  Having a clear list of skills will help substantiate your headline and summary and really brings your profile together.  A great feature that LinkedIn provides is allowing your connections to endorse your skills. This endorsement immediately gives your profile more authority and consequently increases the chance of you being discovered for jobs related to the skills you possess. You can also take tests and assessments through LinkedIn to showcase your proficiency in the skills you have listed.

5. Use engaging visuals

Linked provides users with the ability to add a background image just like Facebook and Twitter.  As visual beings, this is just as important to get right as the rest of your profile. The right cover photo or image makes your profile stand out as is another great way to express your profession or personality.  You also have the ability to post Youtube videos or pdf infographics so that you can be creative with the multimedia you use and make your page demand attention from employers.

6. Customize your URL

The URL for your LinkedIn profile can be customised to make it more relevant than the default address provided upon signing up.  Editing your profile URL is easy to do and is a great way to make your page more memorable when sharing your public profile with your wider network.  It is also possible to create a badge for your profile that can be added to your online resume or website from the public profile settings area. A customised LinkedIn page url makes it much easier for employers to find you and with a 30 character limit, you should be able to create a good alternative if a particular URL is already taken.  To customise your URL navigate to your Profile, and at the top of your basic information is a link to Edit public profile & URL. Click this link and edit the URL in the top right corner of the following screen to your desired address, then click Save.

7. Proactively build connections

It can be easy to disregard but sustaining a steady increase in connections is vital as LinkedIn uses a system based on first, second and third-degree connections.  Therefore having a healthy network increases your visibility to others.  However, your primary connections should always be people you know personally, or have worked with and who can endorse your skills.  That being said if you decide to connect with people who you have never met then a simple note supporting your connection request that explains who you are and the reasons you would like to connect is seen as courteous and good practice.  In fact, it is against LinkedIns policy for users to send unsolicited connection requests.  If you receive too many rejections from people who say they don’t know you then your account could be shut down.  But having too few connections only gives the impression that you don’t know many people or you are not willing to connect with people.  Or that you don’t understand the technology or are unwilling to embrace it.  None of which are conducive to a successful LinkedIn profile.

One of the easiest ways to grow your network is to synch your connections with your email address book. This in turn enables LinkedIn to provide suggestions of people you could connect with.  It’s the perfect way to keep your network up to date and relevant.

8. Request recommendations from your connections.

This is a fantastic way to gain authority in your field.  In the past you will have built solid working relationships with a number of people and one of the great features LinkedIn provides is the Ask for Recommendations link.  Located in your profile editor this link provides you with options of what you would like to be recommended for and you can select from the list of people in your connections.  Send out the request for recommendation and wait for your connections to respond. Employers see a great deal of value in other people’s approval of your work so this is a big one.   

9. Update your page regularly

Not only is LinkedIn your own personal online resume, but is fundamentally a social network.  Therefore to sustain a healthy presence on LinkedIn you must keep the profile active and up to date.  Research what your connections are posting and engage in the posts within the comments section.  Liking and sharing other users posts is a great way to keep your own feed relevant and engaging and also will help you nurture your own online community.

Join groups that are relevant to your skills and are of expertise and interact and engage with the topics and posts that are published.  There will always be a group focussed around your professional interests and joining these communities is a great way to learn, share ideas and meet new people.

10. Monitor your LinkedIn profile strength

One of the features found in your profile is your profile strength measurement which is based upon the completion of your profile. Below this metric is a slider that highlights the areas of your profile that are yet to be completed.  It is easy to miss some of the details LinkedIn allows you to populate and this section is a great tool to help you identify any areas that you may have overlooked.  Once you have completed your profile your strength measurement will increase to “All Star”.

LinkedIn is a great platform to be discovered, it’s easy to use and taken full advantage of, is a powerful networking tool. It’s also a new tool, which means new practices. Keeping it current is your ticket to prove you’re a candidate worth keeping a close eye on.  As is the case with any social media, it’s a place where your personality can seep in. Use this to your advantage and grab the attention of potential employers with sharp copy and relevant images.

You want to communicate your skills, success and achievements and validate your accomplishments with recommendations and endorsements.  Your page should be appealing to visitors whilst at the same time give an idea of your personality and what skills you can bring to the table professionally. These 10 tips are a great way to start building your “All Star” LinkedIn profile and get one more step towards your dream job.