Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile In 7 Easy Steps

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According to a report published by Jobvite in 2014, 94 percent of recruiters are on LinkedIn, but only 36 percent of job seekers are. This means that the majority of jobseekers out there are missing out on a powerful resource.

LinkedIn is usually the first place that recruiters and new business contacts go to evaluate you as a businessperson and a candidate.

But even if you already have a LinkedIn profile, you still might not be using it to its full potential. Your profile is useless unless its discoverable online and catchy to employers. Fortunately there are a number of things you can do to optimize your profile and improve your chances of being found.

It helps to think of your LinkedIn profile as your own personal website endorsing you – the brand. There, you can showcase your successes, interests and endorsements through both textual and visual content. And just as any good marketer would optimize a commercial website to improve its effectiveness and search rankings, you should do the same for your LinkedIn presence, starting with your profile.

Make Sure Your Profile is Complete
Many people will go to the trouble of opening an account, maybe uploading a photo or adding a few facts here and there and then leave it at that. But there are very clear and direct benefits to having a more complete profile, one of which is more visibility in the LinkedIn search results.

The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to LinkedIn breaks down how LinkedIn searches work in terms of keywords, relevance and connections. One thing they note over and over again is the importance of “profile completeness.” Users with more complete profiles can show up higher in the LinkedIn search results.

Using all fields and options available to you—like joining 50 LinkedIn groups—also boosts your ranking.

Luckily, LinkedIn helps you here by letting you know your profile’s level of completeness. Don’t stop until you reach 100%! Here are some tips to make the most of your profile.

1) Claim Your Vanity URL
Instead of a URL with a million confusing numbers at the end, it helps to keep it clean and simple like this: http://www.linkedin.com/in/joeschmo. Click here for information on how to customize your LinkedIn URL.

2) Upload a Professional Photo
One of the most important parts of your LinkedIn profile is your photo. According to the British social media consultancy LinkHumans, adding a photo can result in 14 times more views than someone without one. Your photo helps people who might not otherwise remember your name identify you at a glance.

It doesn’t need to be a professional headshot, although if you have one, use it. Make sure to avoid unprofessional and inappropriate images or shots that are out of focus or grainy. Your best bet is to use a high resolution, smiling photo that communicates energy and enthusiasm.

3) Grab People’s Attention With an Optimized Headline
According to LinkedIn Expert Melanie Dodaro of TopDog Social Media, “you’ve only got 120 characters for your LinkedIn profile headline and you should use every single one of them to leave an impression in the search results.” Your headline should be catchy and highlight your best experience.

Pay special attention when it comes to including keywords that are relevant to your skills. Don’t forget to add the industry you work in. Use keywords throughout this section that people would use to search for professionals such as yourself. You can also use the space to get creative.

According to Dodaro, “One of the most significant factors that will get you showing up on the first page of the search results is your LinkedIn headline.”

4) Show Your Work Samples
As the old saying goes, “show, don’t tell!” A very cool new feature of LinkedIn is the ability to show work samples. LinkedIn allows you to add a variety of media such as videos, images, documents, links and presentations to the Summary, Education, and Experience sections of your LinkedIn profile.

By adding work samples to your profile, a prospective employer or business leader can immediately view the quality of your work. This enables you to showcase different projects, provide samples of your work, and better optimize your LinkedIn profile.

Plus, the more interesting your profile is, the better chance it has to get noticed.

5) Take Your Summary Seriously
All too often people don’t bother to fill out the Summary section on their LinkedIn profiles, which is a shame since it’s such a great opportunity to make a real case for yourself and your skills. According to the British social media consultancy LinkHumans, a summary of 40 words or more makes it more likely you’ll turn up in a future employer’s search.

Think of your summary as your elevator pitch, but optimized with key words that recruiters might use to find candidates with your skills. Communicate what you can do for a company without sounding like a used car salesman. You want to be engaging not salesy or anonymous.

6) Don’t Neglect the Categories at the Bottom
You might be tempted to think of the categories at the bottom of your LinkedIn profile – Groups, Volunteer Experiences and Causes, and Education as superfluous. Don’t. Employers really do look at them and take them into consideration. Membership in relevant groups and specific information about your education can say a lot about you. And sometimes, volunteering experience can be just as important as work experience.

7) Be An Active User
Finally, you shouldn’t think of creating a LinkedIn presence as one time deal – build a profile and you’re done. To get the most out of it, you need to be an active user.

Publishing posts is a great way to get noticed. According to a study by LinkedIn that examined content shared by professionals on varying platforms, 74 percent of respondents stated that LinkedIn offers content relevant to their career and professional interests.

Your posts could include helpful comments or articles that might be of interest to your connections. You should also see LinkedIn as a great opportunity to stay in touch with business contacts and cultivate new ones. Endorse and recommend colleagues and ask them to reciprocate. Touch base with friends and acquaintances and forward any articles or info that a contact might find useful.

As with most things in life, the more you put into, the more you stand to gain.

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