10 Steps for a Great LinkedIn Profile
Once you have completed your resume and BEFORE you distribute it, you need to optimize your LinkedIn profile. This is crucial because, according to an April, 2011 Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey, 95% of employers and virtually every recruiter will look you up on LinkedIn before calling you. So your LinkedIn Profile needs to be in synch with your brand messaging on the resume.
Here we will review the key factors in developing and optimizing your LinkedIn Profile.
Before You Start
Before you do anything, you will want to adjust your settings so you are not alerting the world and your boss that you changed your profile. In the top right of your LinkedIn home, you’ll see your name. Click on the drop down arrow beside your name, and select the link that says “Settings.” Or, click on this Settings link, and login to your LinkedIn account.
Go carefully through the “PRIVACY CONTROLS” settings, particularly the “activity broadcasts” option, where you can indicate that you do not want people to know that you have made changes. Go through each of the settings in this section, and choose appropriately for your situation and goals.
1. Selecting Keywords
Before you start writing anything for your profile, first determine the 2-3 keywords that you want associated with your name. These are the search terms that people will use to find people like you, and you will want to make sure you have used these terms effectively to ensure you show up in the first or second page of LinkedIn search results.
If you are an accountant, then accountant is a good word to start with, but adding Tax Planning Accountant can help differentiate you from all the other accounting role possibilities. Other keywords might be Tax Preparation, IRS Audit, and so on, as appropriate to your skills and experience.
Key tip: Go to LinkedIn, and search for people like you to see what others have used and what seems to be most effective.
2. The Headline
Next to your name appears your “Professional Headline” which you can edit. You have 120 characters to tell the world who you are and why they should contact you. If you do nothing here, which is what most people do, then it will just give the title of your most recent job. That is not the way you want to be shown.
Which is a better Headline?
Accountant at Financial First
Senior Tax Adviser for small businesses with over 10 years of success in tax planning, tax preparation and IRS audits
3. The Photo
Your goal is to get a 100% complete profile and you will need a photo to do that. If you are uncomfortable with that, you can use an avatar, but most people use photos. Just make sure it is a professional photo and not a picture of you at the beach.
Your profile is not considered complete unless you have at least 3 recommendations, so after you have completed entering information into your profile, go to the LinkedIn Learning Center to learn how to develop recommendations for your work.
LinkedIn gives you three different ways to link to different web pages to show off your work. If you don’t have a blog or website, then this is a great opportunity for you to point to white papers, conference presentations or other sites that showcase your work. If you have these websites, make sure you use a good searchable and relevant title, so instead of saying “My Website” use actual names such as “My Presentation on Tax Planning Strategies for the Annual Tax Professional Society Conference”.
If you don’t have a website, a great tip to expand your online presence and support your brand is to go to ezine.com, write an article related to your field, and then point to it from LinkedIn.
6. Your Public Profile
If you see /pub/ in your LinkedIn profile, you have the LinkedIn default full profile. It is important that you personalize it with your name. If you have a common name just play around a bit until you find one that you feel comfortable with. Click on “Edit” beside the “Public Profile” URL when you are in the Edit Profile screen to change your profile URL to your name.
The Summary is one of the most important parts of your LinkedIn profile! Use the LinkedIn Summary to really showcase who you are and what you can do for a firm.
Note that your writing style here is a bit different, more conversational (first person) with short paragraphs and a lot of white space to make it easy to be read online.
Start with a hard-hitting profile and branding statement.
Certified Public Accountant and Senior Tax Advisor
Specializing in forensic accounting, financial statement preparation, tax audits, tax preparation and representation in front of the IRS for small businesses and the self-employed.
Then, follow with a summary of your core skills and accomplishments. A key trick here is to imagine that the only thing that they will see about you is your LinkedIn profile summary, so showcase the key information here that will make them want to immediately pick up the phone and call you.
I am the personal tax advisor clients have called upon for over 10 years to handle the most complicated and challenging taxation scenarios. My career is marked by:
10 years of experience advising small businesses and the self-employed around tax planning, which has helped clients save as much as $5M.
Represented over 100 clients in IRS tax audits within the last year with 99% of cases resolved with no penalties.
IMPORTANT NOTE if you are currently employed: Unless you want your employer to know that you are looking for a new position (which, depending on the employer, can lead to instant job loss), avoid putting in any statements like “Available for relocation.” Also make sure you are not publishing any information that your company would not want to make public such as revenues and earnings numbers.
8. Specialties / Skills
The Specialties section is your opportunity to drive keyword density so you show up in searches. Include the relevant terms, technologies, and tools that you are familiar with and that are important to the next employer.
LinkedIn also added a SKILLS section. Go into this section by hitting the MORE button. Enter a position title and select the relevant skills that you have demonstrated.
In this section you will have a description of your various jobs. Keep these short and sweet and focus on achievements. Unlike the resume which goes into more detail, this is just a snapshot of some of the things that you would brag about in a job interview.
10. Additional Information
LinkedIn has added an “Additional Information” section where you can add your associations, affiliations, certifications, and personal interests. Use these to drive even greater keyword density for the kinds of positions you are looking for. Here you can also tie in to your Twitter account.
There are also applications that you can add to your LinkedIn profile including incorporating your blog, putting up PowerPoint presentations, adding Amazon book reviews, and linking to white papers, and we will save those areas for a future discussion.
LinkedIn has changed forever the job search landscape. Follow these tips and you will be sure to stand out.