In job hunting as in dating, first impressions have gone nearly completely digital. Nine times out of 10, hiring managers and potential bosses will rev up your LinkedIn page and take it for a spin before deciding whether to call you about an interview. Cringeworthy as that may be, it’s time to perfect your firm (but not too firm) virtual handshake.
After spending hours, days and weeks perfecting your resume, it may be temping to copy/paste huge sections of it onto your LinkedIn profile. But, repeat after me, “my LinkedIn should not be a carbon copy of my resume.” More than your resume, LinkedIn is an opportunity for your potential future employer to get to know you and your personality. Keep that in mind when making these essential tweaks to your profile.
Step 1: Spruce Up Your Headline
Long gone are the days of listing your boring old job title as your LinkedIn headline. Between your name and your smiling headshot, your headline is one of the first things visitors will see. Use it to differentiate yourself from the crowd of profiles. You have a split second to make an impact – so consider being original and attention grabbing, like these.
Add some elbow grease to “Freelance Writer” and viola: “Professional Wordsmith with 15 Years Working For International Startups.” Extra points for weaving in your current and/or future career intentions and a keyword or two if you’re hoping to be found by us recruiters.
Then again, if you are actively and publicly seeking a job, you will want to consider using keywords directly within your headline. Something like: “Seeking Sales Representative Position in Retail.” Using your headline this way gives you a leg up when recruiters run searches.
Think about your desired audience here. If your goal is to be original, do so as long as its purposeful. If you goal is to be found in searches, go for keywords.
Step 2: Choose Your Profile Picture Wisely
Looks matter (at least when it comes to the quality of your headshot) so consider pixel quality, pose and expression. Think carefully about your personal brand to select the right photo for your virtual first impression. If your aim is to be fun, you can indeed walk the line of adding some flair. For the rest of us, there are some researched techniques to lean on.
PhotoFeeler conducted a study based on 60,000 ratings of perceived likability, competence, and influence. A few takeaways:
- Don’t block your eyes with sunglasses, etc.
- Setting doesn’t particularly affect people’s perception of you so go ahead and have your photo shoot where you feel most comfortable.
- Show off those pearly whites if you want to seem more likable.
- Nothing has a bigger impact on perceived competence and influence than informal dress. Consider dusting off the suit jacket or formal shirt for your big camera moment.
Bottom line: a professional headshot means you're looking at the camera with an upbeat expression, we see only your shoulders and head, and you are wearing work attire. Seems simple enough, right? Sadly, and we kid you not, while researching this article, we came across a corporate recruiter whose official LinkedIn profile picture is a selfie taken in a car. No. Please just no.
Step 3: Revitalize Your Summary
The worst thing you can do is have a stale summary. Aside from your headline, these 2,000 characters are the first things every visitor will read about you. Decide whether you want your profile in first or third person. The gold standard is leaning toward first person. After all, we know you’re the one writing about yourself. But we get it; some people feel uncomfortable listing their accomplishments. Do what feels right for you.
Give your new and improved summary the TLC it deserves. How? While your headline is the slogan for the brand that is “you,” your summary should be the company philosophy – written in said company’s vibe. Let your personality shine and grab readers with an exciting opening sentence, question or phrase. Continue with authentic and compelling copy that leads the eye on a mini-journey through what makes you tick, your accomplishments (not responsibilities), and your career goals. Tell your story. Break up large chunks of text with an interesting format or bullet points and lively headers. Writing wise: less is more and eliminate any repetition. Ask friends to skim for errors. Just like your resume, typos can be the difference between getting that phone call and getting passed over.
Consider your audience when writing. Planning to be a journalist? Your summary should be a work of art that shows off your creativity and magical way with words. Going into the world of sales? Prove your capability straight out of the gate by flaunting those numbers you hit last quarter. Like any good company white paper, end with a call to action like posing a virtual or physical coffee date and/or including your email address.
If you are hoping to be found by recruiters like us, consider sprinkling your profile with keywords. Don’t go overboard here but look at a job description you plan to apply to and use some of the keywords you find so highlight why your specific competencies are a perfect match for that particular type of job.
Step 4: Clean Up That URL
Yes, it is a big deal for your URL to have a bunch of random numbers and letters. You’ll use this URL for the rest of your LinkedIn Life, not to mention whenever you send people to your page from your resume or elsewhere. Officially customize your brand and make it easy for anyone to visit your profile from scratch. LinkedIn gives you a step-by-step guide here. Keep it professional – if your first and last name combo is already taken, consider your middle name, initial or first initial and last name.
Does your LinkedIn need a booster shot? We’re happy to have our recruiters or career consultants take a peak. We offer a la carte resume and LinkedIn consulting or package deals for more in-depth overhauling. Find Capa on LinkedIn and mention this article to receive 15% off.
Erin Schneider is the writer-in-residence and resume consultant who manages our Capa Career Coaching department. Since 2005, Erin has been writing and copyediting for a diverse range of publications from international business journals to Fortune 500 marketing content. Erin has a journalism degree from New York University and studied resume & interviewing strategies in a six-month course in New York City. She has also managed hiring and recruitment for online magazines in America and Brazil. Connect with Erin through email and Linkedin.