Optimizing Your LinkedIn Profile

Published on Thursday, April 16, 2015

Optimizing Your LinkedIn Profile

In June, 2014, we presented an advanced LinkedIn seminar, “Sweet Secrets: Unwrap the Job Search Power of LinkedIn.” We shared our advanced secrets for optimizing your LinkedIn profile to: (1) expand and leverage your contacts, (2) extend your reach and presence on LinkedIn, (3) use “push” and “pull” marketing strategies on LinkedIn, and (4) create a “branded” profile that has “stickiness” – the power to attract and retain interest.

Since then, we have gained valuable new insights from Dan Stiffler, a well respected recruiter, and founder of the “The FAVAR™ Method of LinkedIn® Profile Creation,” and have added some of these insights to our “Sweet Secrets.” Today, I’d like to share with you our latest “Sweet Secrets.”

Secret #1: Manage Your Privacy Settings

Your privacy settings (located under your picture at the top left corner of your screen) can help you customize your LinkedIn page, so that viewers see what YOU want them to see. Here are some tips:

  • Turn OFF your Activity Broadcasts and Activity Feed (under privacy settings) before making any changes to your profile!
  • Make your profile VISIBLE when you view others’ profiles
  • Allow your connections (only) to see your connections
  • Turn OFF “Viewers of the profile also viewed”
  • If you have a LinkedIn premium account, turn on the “Premium Profile” and “Open Profile,” which allows anyone on LinkedIn to see your full profile and contact you for free.
  • Under the “Communication Settings” tab, be sure to check off all the boxes under “Career Opportunities if you wish to receive InMail messages from recruiters regarding job opportunities.

Secret #2: Upgrade your Account

Upgrading your account to “premium” gives you more search results, places your profile above other profiles in key word searches, and allows you to use “Open Profile,” described above.

  • Try it for free for one month – Click on “Try Premium for Free” (under your picture at the top left corner of your profile), and try it for one month, then, before the month is over, cancel your premium subscription (not your account!), and sign up for the least expensive plan, which is “Job Seeker Basic.”
  • The “Job Seeker Basic” plan has all the bells and whistles you need – and there is no indication on your profile which plan you have.

Secret #3: Manage Your Home Page

Your Home page provides valuable information about your reach and presence on LinkedIn. Record and monitor the information and statistics that appear on the right side of your “Home” page:

  • People you may know – Check this regularly to see if there are people you know – and invite them into your network.
  • Who’s viewed your profile – Click on this stat, and record the number of people who have viewed your profile in the last 90 days. See if this changes as you begin optimizing your profile. Only LinkedIn premium members have access to ALL the people who have viewed your profile.
  • Who’s viewed your updates – If you are posting status updates, find out who are reaching.
  • Your LinkedIn network – Record the number of connections you have – and the number of professionals in your LinkedIn Network. See if this changes as you begin to optimize your profile.
  • Groups you may like – Check out any additional groups that are recommended by LinkedIn
  • Companies you may want to follow – If these companies are current customers, or are on your “radar screen” as prospective customers or employers, you can “follow” them on your profile.

Secret #4: Build and Manage Your Connections

Having a large number of connections (your goal: 500+ connections), including several highly connected connections (with 30K+ contacts), will help you to widen your network of professional contacts on LinkedIn.

  • Invite people you know into your LinkedIn network – and follow up with a personalized email message when they join your network!
  • Invite people who have VIEWED your profile to join your network – they’ve already shown an interest, so let’s bring it to the next level! Obviously, you need to be selective… and follow up via email when they join your network!
  • Invite 2nd level group connections into your network – and follow up with a personalized email message to them when they join your network!
  • Invite targeted company contacts and/or recruiters into your network – and follow up via email when they join your network!
  • Notify your LinkedIn contacts of important new developments in your work – or in your job search – by downloading your contacts and contacting them DIRECTLY via email.

Secret #5: Join and Participate in Groups

Join Groups to widen your network and demonstrate your areas of interest and expertise.

  • You can join up to 50 groups on LinkedIn… and the more groups you join, the more people who will be able to find your profile on LinkedIn.
  • Look for large groups (some groups have 30,000 members – and others 1.5 million members!)
  • Invite 2nd level group members into your network – A simple letter saying you’re a fellow group member is all it takes. And then… follow up with them by email when they join your network!

Secret #6: Apply for Jobs on LinkedIn

Today, next to Indeed, LinkedIn is the 2nd most used job board for posting jobs – and it is the Number 1 resource ussed by external and internal recruiters to directly source candidates with the qualifications desired.

  • Search for jobs via keyword or position title, and set up “job agents” to notify you via email when jobs that meet your criteria are posted on LinkedIn.
  • Join “Job Seeker Basic” Premium – In searches, your profile will appear first above those who are not premium members, and you can access additional insights about the jobs (e.g. how your profile compares to other applicants and what skills you should highlight on your profile)
  • Watch for jobs that LinkedIn recommends – sometimes they are spot on.

Secret #7: Create a “Branded” Profile

This is, by far, the most critical part of your LinkedIn experience. Develop a profile that is authentically “you,” and that conveys information about you and your personal brand in a positive, upbeat way.

  • Your picture – Get a close up head shot but not a “mug shot” (turn to the side and lean into the camera to convey a more interested, friendly appearance)
  • Your name – Many times, first names and nicknames are not correlated to the most common version of the name – making you “unfindable” at times. If your name is Marsha, and the more common spelling is “Marcia,” you will need to list both, e.g. Marsha (Marcia) Smith. List your name and nickname, e.g. Thomas “Tom,” and don’t use your middle initial.
  • Headline – Your headline should be key word rich. It can be your current position and company, or it can be a description of you (e.g. Senior Executive – Sales and Operations).
  • Zip code – Select the best zip code for maximum opportunities. If you’re targeting contacts or opportunities in Philadelphia, make sure that you select “greater Philadelphia area,” not your specific zip code.
  • Contact Information – Your contact information should be listed in THREE places – in your “Contact Information” that appears at the under your picture (1st connections are the only ones who can see your contact information at the top), at the top of your “Summary,” and under the section, “Additional Information – Advice for contacting you.”
  • Your LinkedIn Profile Address (URL) – Customize your LinkedIn profile address to shorten and personalize it… and get rid of the numbers at the end of the address.

Keywords on your Summary – Display a short list of keywords in the 1st 50 characters of the Summary; then list your contact information in the 2nd 50 characters of Summary:

Regional Sales Manager | Medical Device | Operations
Jane Doe | | (555) 555-5555

  • Summary Content – Your summary can be written in the first person to make it more personal. Use HEADINGS in all caps to separate sections of your summary.
  • Experience – If you are currently employed, it is best to keep this section brief. If you are actively job hunting and NOT currently employed, you can copy and paste most of your resume in this section, including descriptions of the organizations, your scope of responsibility, and major accomplishments. It is strongly advised that you list your most recent company as CURRENT, in order to be found in recruiter searches. Be sure to include the most common words used for your position. If your title is “National Accounts Manager,” or “Regional Manager,” you should include the words “Sales,” or “Sales Team Leader,” or “Business Development” beside your title.
  • Recommendations – Seek out recommendations from those who are in your closest circle of business contacts and friends. To set up your FIRST request for a recommendation, go to the profile of your contact, and click to make a recommendation of him/her – but then click on “Ask for recommendations” at the top of the page.
  • Education – Only list graduation date, not the beginning date. As you enter the name of your college or university, click on the name listed on LinkedIn to show their logo on your profile. Be sure to use the “college within a college” listing, e.g. University at Buffalo School of Law. It is best NOT to list your high school on the LinkedIn profile.
  • Additional Information – Don’t put your marital status or birthday here! DO list your email address and cell phone number under “Advice for contacting.”
  • Skills and Endorsements – List as many skills as are appropriate to your field. Endorsements can help to “weight” the strongest of your skills, but if you are endorsed by only a small number of people, consider not showing endorsements.
  • Honors and Awards – List your honors and awards here – and also list them in your “Summary.”
  • Groups – The groups you join tell a lot about your interests and areas of expertise. See Secret #5.
  • Companies You’re Following– For those currently employed, you might consider “following” some of your company’s customers or vendors – particularly if they are listed on the company website. For the job hunter, it can be a plus to show the kinds of companies that you’re pursuing in your search.
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