Having a LinkedIn profile is as common as having a resume these days, whether you’re a college student just about to graduate or an experienced pro. But for your profile to do a good job of representing and marketing you, it needs to look its best (plus, good profiles make CEO Reid Hoffman and his team do the happy dance). So here’s my own spin on the essential elements of a good LinkedIn profile:
1. A clear 350-pixel by 350-pixel photo of your fine self. Don’t make Annie Leibovitz have a hissy fit! In my opinion, your profile needs a head-and-shoulders shot with no distracting background, no windblown hair and no sections showing the side of somebody else’s body or head. Think business clothing and a friendly smile to convey your professionalism and personality. (Otherwise, viewers may shriek in frenzied terror and run away, crying for their mommies.) And did you know that if you’re job hunting, you’re 40 times more likely to be noticed if your profile has a picture?
I’ve also seen some good photos of people giving speeches or doing other business activities, but at least be close enough to the camera so that people can recognize your face. (“Um…excuse me…I just need to hold a magnifying glass up to the screen here…Oh! That IS you!”)
2. Some keywords (a.k.a. buzzwords) relating to your profession. This practice helps people to find you in a search and should be like salt — carefully sprinkled throughout your career summary and experience.
3. Good spelling. (It’s scary how some people seem to have fallen asleep in their English classes. My English teachers would be prostrate in horror or scrambling for their yardsticks to whack people’s hands.)
4. Good grammar. (See comment above re English classes.)
5. Recommendations with good spelling and grammar. According to LinkedIn, you need at least 3. But check them over for accidental errors before posting, and ask the sender to fix any mistakes. No red faces that way.
6. Results. When describing your accomplishments, it makes your profile more powerful as a marketing tool if you can include numbers such as quantities and percentages. Then, you can relate that to how you helped your organization make money, save money or save time.
7. Brevity. I’ve seen some LinkedIn profiles that described EVERYTHING in that person’s career. Ideally, the profile needs to communicate the essentials about you, but please, don’t make it into a multi-part saga either. (*yawns and reaches for nearest source of caffeine*)
8. Accurate endorsements. LinkedIn added the “Endorsements” feature a while back, and I’m on the fence about it. I’ve had people try to endorse me for skills I don’t have. (*rolls eyes*) But at the same time, if one of my connections has a high number of endorsements (99+) for a certain skill, that helps to convince me about his or her experience.
9. A growing network of connections. About 70% of job hunters get their jobs through personal connections. Even if you are employed, it’s useful to make connections because you never know when you’ll need ‘em, but be sure to say “thank you” or help out that person as well. (Hey, it’s only polite.)
10. A customized URL for your profile (uniform resource locator, a.k.a. your LinkedIn profile’s web address). It’s easy to create and makes your profile address easier for others to remember.