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Is your LinkedIn profile working for you?

With more than 500 million users worldwide, LinkedIn is easily the largest professional network; it gives you the chance to get your name out to hundreds, if not thousands, of relevant contacts. So, whether you are looking for a job now, or in the future, this is a really useful tool. Even if you’re not looking for a job yet, this is the perfect opportunity to build your contacts. Just think, when that day comes, you would be armed with a number of associates that can help you to progress to the next stage of your career!

You need a LinkedIn profile that draws attention, says the right things, and helps you to really connect with the people who can help you expand your career. Here are 10 simple tips to help make your LinkedIn profile stand out:

1. Add your headshot

The easiest thing you can do is to add a good headshot. Remember that this is the first impression people will get from your page – you can make it fit in creatively, if this is relevant, but keep it appropriate – you don’t want to stand out for the wrong reasons. If you don’t have a professional headshot to use, it is worth the investment. With the huge numbers of people on LinkedIn, those without a photo are easily pushed aside.

2. Create an eye-catching headline

Your headline shows up right below your name on your LinkedIn profile. The default settings will fill this in with your current position, which is okay for starters, but it can be whatever you want. You have 120 characters to work with, so why not add on a little? Think of it as a small billboard advertisement for you and what it is that you do. Instead of just listing your job title, mention your specialty and how you benefit your company or customers. For example:

Advertising Sales Rep helping clients create winning branding strategies. Over 300 successful clients.

Just like that you’ve told them your job, what you bring to the table, and provided a little credibility easily and effectively.

3. Make an interesting summary

You have 2000 characters to work with here so you can give a bit more, but keep in mind that anybody reading your profile will want information quickly and easily so we don’t recommend using the full amount – instead, aim for around half of this. Don’t focus on just your past experience but on what you do well and what you can bring to a prospective employer. Keep in mind that keywords are crucial here – use words that you want to be strongly connected to in your field and try and paint a picture of how you want to be viewed within your profession.

4. Highlight your experience

Try not to just copy and paste from your CV, but do give enough information that the reader gains a good insight in to your experiences. Recruiters especially will transfer this to a .pdf document so you need this to represent you in the same way that your CV would. Do include all your jobs, with the focus on those that are relevant to your career plans, and be sure to include a minimum of two to four interesting points for each job, including personal accomplishments within the role.

5. Use other media

Not only can you add a background photo / cover photo on LinkedIn, just like you can on Twitter and Facebook, but you can also add links to websites and even to YouTube, if relevant. You can also add other items such as portfolios etc. to your profile, which is harder to do with a CV.

6. Make yourself available

LinkedIn gives users the option of publicly displaying that they are looking for new professional opportunities. If your current employer is not aware that you a seeking a new position, we appreciate that this may be a feature that you choose not to employ, but if you are able to turn it on, it can be very valuable in getting you on the shortlist for job searches. Not only will it bump you up the list on those searches, but it will also give you a chance to set some parameters for your requirements.

7. Start making connections

This may seem like an obvious one, but you need to keep growing your connections as you meet new people!  Due to LinkedIn’s system of first, second, and third-degree connections, having a lot of connections helps you to stay visible to others.

However, while you can connect with people that you don’t know, it is preferable to connect with individuals that you know personally, have previously worked with, or have met in any other professional capacity. Don’t forget to ask for business cards etc. at networking events, so that you can connect with your new contacts, as this will widen the sphere of people that you are able to reach.

8. Ask for recommendations

Recommendations are a key part of your profile – reach out to people that you have developed good working relationships with and request a recommendation. You could also try writing a few recommendations for your connections yourself, and fingers crossed they will then return the favour!

Remember: it is also important to keep your skills section up-to-date as this is a valuable tool in searches.

9. Keep your page active

LinkedIn is more than an online resume — it is a networking social media site. That means to get the most out of it, you need to remain active. Check out what other people are posting, engage them with thoughtful comments, and like and share posts that strike you as helpful.

You can also join groups that are on LinkedIn. Whatever your professional interests are, from marketing to accounting, there are going to be groups talking about it. Join one or two and interact within that group. It’s a great way to meet some new people and share ideas.

You can also write useful articles / blogs and post them not only to your profile, but also to the groups that you have joined to spark off interactions with your contacts there.

10. Check your LinkedIn profile strength

If you look at your current profile, there is a gauge on the right-hand side that gives you a “Profile Strength” measurement. Essentially, this is telling you how completely you’ve filled out your profile. Keep adding more and using the site’s tips until that gauge rates you “All-Star.” It’s simple, but it can help you to see if you’ve overlooked something.

LinkedIn is a powerful tool and one that is really easy to use. Make the most of it by optimising your profile to grab attention, sell your skills, and validate your accomplishments. You want your page to be visually appealing to visitors whilst also making it easy for them to get a feel for who you are and what you can do for them professionally. These 10 tips make a great start for building your winning LinkedIn profile.