Opportunities are best when they come to you, don’t they?
That doesn’t mean you can simply sit and wait for job offers to arrive though (at least not initially.) You need to find a way to attract those opportunities somehow, and LinkedIn is one of the best tools to do just that.
Why use LinkedIn?
At this point, the question is why wouldn’t you use LinkedIn?
LinkedIn is the largest social network for professionals, with over 774 million members in over 200 countries worldwide. Simply put, that is a lot of opportunities just waiting to happen to you and your business.
Having a LinkedIn profile (an effective one, at that) allows you to craft, offer and grow your professional brand to those opportunities, ones that might not yet have realized that your skills are exactly what they need today.
If not to use it explicitly for job or partnership searches, LinkedIn is a great way to research professional communities and industries that are shaping the world today, if not to simply build connections with people who share the same professional interests as you do. The possibilities and the benefits, at this point, are truly endless.
However, with a community as large as LinkedIn’s, it also becomes difficult to stand out. From making a good first impression and expanding your network to using tools such as a banner template for eye-catching profile visuals, here are 10 crucial tips to stand out amongst the professional crowd.
10 Crucial Things You Need to Do to Make Your Linkedin Profile Stand Out
1. Add a profile picture.
We can write an entirely separate article on why profile pictures are one of, if not, the first steps to creating any profile online, including on LinkedIn.
For one, it establishes trust. Ask yourself, which are you more likely to view on any social platform: profiles with pictures, or ones without? Believe it or not, there are fake LinkedIn profiles, and having a profile picture almost eliminates the possibility of recruiters thinking you’re one of them.
Your profile picture also gives the single, most impactful first impression: think of it like physically showing up to an office for an actual interview. How you present yourself sets the tone for the rest of the interview and gives the recruiter a hint about whether you’re a fit for the company, so besides just setting a picture, do your best to select a photo that matches the brand or culture of the companies you’re trying to attract.
A safe bet, of course, is to have a professional-looking headshot, so companies see that you know how to take work seriously when you need to. You can use an image background remover to remove your headshot background and change the background to a more professional backdrop.
Besides, not having a profile picture might make recruiters think you don’t know how to set one when it’s part of the tutorial when you register. Not only does it make you look outdated, but it also implies that you’re lazy, so put a face to that profile.
2. Upload your background photo.
Along with your profile picture, the banner photo that appears behind it is one of only a handful of visuals that help you stand out from the competition.
Use this opportunity to paint a picture to recruiters about who you are or what you bring to the table: get creative, but don’t forget that this is still a platform for professionals, so you want to make a good impression.
One creative spin you can put on your banner photo is to make your graphic for it. There are plenty of samples online that can save you time when doing this, or you can create your banner template; on top of giving you the correct image size to work with, some tools give you layouts that you can edit to convey your information as effectively as possible.
A banner template is also often provided by user-friendly tools online, so you spend less time tinkering with editing software and more time crafting a banner that demands attention and respect.
3. Customize your headline.
The headline appears below your name on your LinkedIn profile and is likely the first thing visitors will read about you. By default, this shows your current position and company, but LinkedIn has since extended the limit from 120 to 220 characters, which gives you more room to make an effective sales pitch.
Instead of limiting the headline to what you do, tell them what you do well, or how you’ve been an asset to your companies or clients. Because this also appears in search results, keywords relevant to the work and opportunities you want to attract make sense to include in the headline.
It’s also worth crafting a headline that, tonally, speaks to the audience you’re targeting. Here are some examples of engaging LinkedIn profile headlines that might work for you.
4. Write an engaging summary.
Once you’ve built that strong first impression, it’s time to show your visitors what really sets you apart. Think of this as the inevitable “tell us about yourself” question at the start of every job interview. Use this chance to build on top of your headline using the same guidelines: highlight your specialties and contributions, inject a bit of personality and use keywords that are relevant to the opportunities you want to attract.
Save details on your past experiences, as that will be covered right in the next section.
Remember: while you have over 2,000 characters available, attention spans grow ever shorter these days. Keeping it around half of that, or less, is a good middle ground to aim for. You also want to avoid using the tired buzzwords that overpopulate the most generic profiles out there, as they not only say nothing about your capabilities, they could potentially detract from your credibility as a professional.
5. Highlight relevant experience.
At this point, you might be tempted to simply cut and paste the contents of your resume onto your LinkedIn profile. Since we know that our readers have short attention spans, we can’t waste any time, especially in what could be the lengthiest section of your profile.
Take some time to filter for jobs that are truly relevant to the direction you want to take your career in, then add notable achievements, initiatives and contributions under each. 2-3 bullet points work well here.
What’s critical in this section is to paint a clear picture of how you’ve created a lasting impact in each position held. Awards you’ve received, initiatives you’ve led and projects you’ve launched are all attractive options here, especially if you have the numbers to back it up. Even more so when you can prove you’re a positive influence on the company’s revenue.
6. Update your contact information.
You have an impressive profile, and now everybody wants to work with you. The question is: can they even get in touch with you? It’s time to scroll back up and add (or update) your contact information.
By default, your registered email address is already included, but it pays to include other meaningful links: your website, social media links and, if you’re comfortable, your phone number, ensure that not only can you be reached, you’re far less likely to miss out on any amazing opportunities being offered to you.
Here’s a handy guide from LinkedIn themselves on how to edit your contact information.
7. Make sure your profile is public.
Now that you’ve set up your profile on LinkedIn, it’s time to make sure that people can see it. We’re not talking about just the LinkedIn community, we’re talking about the world. Your public profile is key to this.
The public profile is a simplified version of your LinkedIn profile that can be indexed by search engines like Google and other third-party services if you let it (you have the option not to, but why would you do that?) You can also customize what is and is not visible to the public when you dive deeper into the settings.
The most important part: setting a custom URL. You don’t want to be sending your potential clients or co-workers a cryptic mix of letters and numbers for a profile; instead, you want a personalized link which not only makes it easier for contacts to remember and visit your profile, it also shows that you’re thorough and considerate of your visitors’ time.
LinkedIn itself provides some handy resources for making the most out of your public profile. check them out here:
- Customize Your Public Profile URL | LinkedIn Help
- LinkedIn Public Profile Visibility | LinkedIn Help
- Configure your public profile
Enabling your public profile is the easiest step you can take to reach as many potential opportunities as possible, and at this point, you’re letting LinkedIn do part of the job searching for you already. How convenient is that?
8. Make connections.
People often forget that LinkedIn is, fundamentally, a social platform because of the professional focus. LinkedIn goes a step further because as you expand your network of connections, you also become more visible to second or third-degree contacts. Of course, you want to do this with a bit of integrity, because simply spamming invitations to connect can backfire on you.
Start by connecting with people that you know, especially those you have worked with personally or have met in a professional setting, such as trade shows, seminars and the like.
While some recommend aiming for over 500 connections because LinkedIn simplified your connections to 500+ on display as a result (any lower, and LinkedIn will display an exact number) this is something that ideally grows organically as you gain more experience.
If you do decide to connect with someone you might not have a meaningful professional relationship with, be polite and send a note with the request explaining who you are and why you’re asking to connect. Remember, these are still real people, and you never know who might be a big influence on your career in the long run.
9. Organize your skills, then get endorsements and recommendations.
It’s one thing to talk about the work that you do, but it’s an even greater thing to have other people lend truth to your skills and contributions. Enter skill endorsements and recommendations.
For starters, endorsements and recommendations are NOT the same things. Endorsements are simply points awarded to you by peers (first-degree connections) for skills listed on your profile. Recommendations, on the other hand, act like testimonials (think old-school Friendster) where colleagues can write short notes to describe the experience of working with you (ideally, commending your work!)
Start by adding skills to your profile—you can add up to 50 and feature 3 at the top. This will also help guide others to see what skills you’re prioritizing and hopefully increase your chances of getting endorsements there.
Take note that connections can revise or retract recommendations, so just like we said with making connections, remember to always be polite and to deal with this feature with integrity. One way to do this is to pay it forward or to even initiate: it’s good to send endorsements or recommendations in return or to give them out, unprompted, to the people you get to work with. It adds a little bit more goodwill in the world, and it helps reinforce the practice of supporting one another in the workplace.
10. Complete your LinkedIn profile!
If you’ve followed most or all of our tips above, this will be a breeze for you. LinkedIn rates user profiles on a 5-tier scale, namely:
I don’t think we need to tell you what to aim for here, but what we can tell you is that it’s incredibly easy to get there. All-Star status is simply achieved by adding substantial information to most of your profile, including the sections we described above.
It’s been said that All-Star profiles almost double their chances of receiving opportunities, and considering at least 87% of recruiters rely on LinkedIn, we cannot recommend this step enough.
Bonus tip: Stay active.
In the same way that you promote and manage your brand on other social media, visibility is a proven way to stay relevant and to attract new eyes to your business. In this case, you and your skills are the business/product, and it’s time people paid attention to what you can bring to the table as well.
LinkedIn has its feed, where you can share updates about your work and your achievements to your connections and, potentially, to the rest of LinkedIn. That’s only about 740 million users and 55 million companies.
We recommend using various tools and strategies to keep your posts interesting and your profile updated. Use a banner template to quickly update your profile’s aesthetic to match the opportunities you’re looking for and user-friendly editors to spice up your photos and graphics for the feed, without breaking a sweat.
LinkedIn is one of if not the most powerful tools to market you, your skills and your business to the world. Investing the time to craft an interesting, search-engine friendly and, most importantly, credible profile that highlights your strengths and connections will allow you to attract the best opportunities out there.
By making your profile accessible to the public, you could be reaping offers from the best of the best even while you’re out on vacation! Stand out today for an outstanding tomorrow.
Shelly Solis is one of the women behind SaaSLaunchr.com, a newly launched growth marketing partner for SaaS companies. She previously partnered with Jenn Pereira of Removal.ai as a content marketing consultant where they successfully launched a campaign that brought website traffic to 400,000 in 4 months.
Shelly currently focuses on guest posting services and SEO for SaaS.