Once upon a time, you’d be licking a paper envelope shut and mailing it off (yes, through the Postal Service…#RIPsnailmail) to a potential employer. He or she would open it up and find a copy of your resume, and – if you knew your stuff – a well-worded cover letter expressing your interest in the business and your relevant skills and qualifications.
That time is over and done.
It’s apparently the age of leaning in; it’s also the age of linking in.
I received quite a few messages asking me to do a full post on how to best utilize and maximize LinkedIn to kickstart (or just rev up) your online professional presence. You want to be a boss, in the cool sense and job sense. I’m going to help you become an All-Star.
What better way to keep up this Back-to-College fun, amiright?
Today, I’m giving you LinkedIn 101, Part 1. You’ll learn how to make your profile stand out among the sea of 300 millions folks already gunning for jobs.
We’re going to work our way top to bottom on your profile, since a few key things up top are determining factors when employers head hunt. No worries – by the time this mini-series is complete, you’ll be more-than-ready to kickstart your career in a whole new way. So stick with me on this one.
On LinkedIn, head hunting is literally that. They’re sifting through virtual headshots, so yours has to stand out (in the best sense).
1. Your profile picture should be:
– Close up. That killer dress can wait until the interview. Unless you plan on wearing the exact same outfit TO said interview, it’s really knowing your face that becomes key here, folks.
– Appropriate. (that means Business casual/professional attire, no alcohol, etc.)
– Angling inward. This one is interesting. By choosing a picture where your body is positioned or looking AWAY from your page, a viewer’s eyes go that way, too. So, select a photo that features you turned in slightly, into your profile. It’s like bookending your LinkedIn with a darling snapshot of yourself, and it gets everyone happy (subconsciously, but that still counts).
– If you don’t have professional headshots, no need to break the bank and hire externally. Have a camera-savvy friend snap some pics of you in front of a solid, neutral background. If there are no suitable backgrounds in your everyday environment, consider picking up a white science fair board from Wal-Mart and using it as a professional photo backdrop. (Spoiler alert: My photo was done in front of a chalk board in a lecture hall at Wharton!)
2. Even if you’re a student, don’t be a ‘student’.
Get creative with your self-titling. I designated myself to be a ‘brand enthusiast,’ because that’s what I am. (And I’ve received direct messages from head hunters because of it!) I love the science behind building a brand and creating an essence that easily incorporates into the everyday lifestyle of innumerable people. I love studying brand management and how it relates to marketing directly. I love thinking strategically, but with a creative flair. And I love experimenting with my own personal brand, both in real life and on this rosy space. I plan on going into brand consulting. Even though I don’t have the degree yet, I’m taking matters into my own hands here. (I’ll be offering free initial consultations for your brand, blog, or business, soon…comment below if you’d be interested in learning more!)
If you’re an aspiring doctor, say that. If you’re a freelance writer, say that. Whether you’re an activist for a social cause or for increasing happiness, say that. Just keep your title professional and relevant, directly correlating to either what you consider yourself to already be, or what you aspire to be.
3. Personalize your profile URL.
This handy dandy graphic that I made in half a second should be helpful in figuring out HOW exactly to go about personalizing your URL. Simply click “edit” and change the random number and letter laden code to something indicative of YOU. So, your name. Go with that. That way, anytime you’re sharing your profile (or anytime someone else is trying to share your profile), you’re more than a barcode-esque sequence…you’re a real live virtual person.
4. When you can upload content, upload content.
Pictures, screengrabs, videos, documents…anything that shows off your skill without providing confidential information. Don’t give away all of your discoveries or work findings here, because you still want interview talking points for later on, and credit for your genius! If you’ve designed your own website, don’t just include a hyperlink; include screenshot images of your design. Not only do you make for easy perusal, but you break up huge blocks of text with fun, maybe even interactive graphics that showcase your talent even more.
5. Keep your profile up to date!
Maybe this sounds like a no-brainer to some of you, but regular maintenance of your own page is a must. I know time is tight and I’m 100% guilty of this, too, but be sure to update your jobs, responsibilities, achievements, and skills as you work. Think of it this way: If your dream date knocked on your door to take you out, you’d want to look and feel your best to be ready for whatever – you never know, this could be something magical! Same goes for your career. You never know when a big shot from your dream company or a recruiter from a place that’s a perfect fit for you just happens to find your profile. Be memorable in the best sense, and be prepared!
Now, you’re already off to a great start, revamping your profile to really show off your stuff and get you noticed by those people who troll LinkedIn like it’s Facebook for the office. Seriously, though, I think that happens?
Next up, Part 2…learning how to turn those all-too-easy “connect” buttons into valuable, genuine connections. Stay tuned for that, and be sure to leave any questions or comments below!
What are your best tips for making your LinkedIn profile stand out? What would you love to learn more about on LinkedIn?
Happy Saturday! Stay rosy.