If you’ve already mastered your LinkedIn and are ready to take it to the next level, check out my article on how to make your website/ePortfolio really stand out.
As a twenty-something in the twenty-first century, my professional digital presence is essential in my pursuit of a fulfilling career. Even if you aren’t a twenty-something, your online persona is what tells other professionals and potential employers what you’re all about.
I’m a big fan of task-batching, and think it’s a great approach to the larger (and possibly overwhelming) task of beefing up your LinkedIn. There are a bunch of small tasks that can be done in one sitting, and other more involved ones that require a time block of their own.
That being said, this article is organized in the following chunks:
- Getting Started
Small things that can be done during an episode of your favorite show.
- Craft your Biography
Tell the world what you’re all about.
- Elaborate on Experiences
Show, don’t just tell.
- Put your Skills to the Test
Demonstrate that you actually know what you say you know.
- You Get What (Endorsements & Recommendations) You Give
Add value to others, and they’ll return the favor.
This section covers the quick & easy things that you could knock out while watching a show or listening to a podcast. It seems long (due mostly to the images included), but you’ll be done in no time.
1. Personalize your URL
When you print your LinkedIn URL on a business card or resume, or maybe add it to an online application, it looks way more polished.
At the top right of your profile page, there’s an “Edit public profile & URL” link.
On a new page, you’ll have the option to edit the custom URL.
I just used a bit of my name, to keep it short and sweet.
2. Improve your Headline
When someone searches for you, the headline is the thing that follows.
It’s your first impression.
It tells people — in under a second — who you are and what you’re about.
It’s a recruiter’s tip-off that you’re a fit… or that you’re not.
It’s your self-proclaimed professional identity, if you will.
Your headline should describe, simultaneously, who you are & who you want to be.
If you’re a student, say that, and specify what you’re studying. If you want a career in a specific industry or role, communicate that somehow — “future astronaut” or “aspiring videographer.”
My current headline states specifically what I’m currently doing, which is fortunately what I want to continue doing as well.
Logistically, the headline is part of your top profile section, which can be edited by selecting the pencil icon in your header.
While you’re there…
3. Link to your Website
Your website — whether it be a blog, ePortfolio, etc. — is going to tell people a lot more about you (and in the exact way you want) than your LinkedIn can. I delve into what your website can do for you that LinkedIn can’t here.
Plus, if you’ve put all that work into creating a website, why wouldn’t you want to link it?
When you click the pencil icon to edit your headline, just stay on that same page. Scroll down and select to edit “Profile URL, Website, Phone, Email, Birthday, WeChat ID.” The “Website URL” field at the top is what you’re looking for.
4. Take Advantage of the Neglected “Featured” Section
When you scroll down on your page, you see the “About” section (more on that later) soon followed by the “Featured” section.
That means that when people first check out your profile, they’ll see this “Featured” section (or the lack thereof) in the first few scrolls. You should take full advantage of that ability to capture their attention with 1) graphics and 2) the most important content you have to offer.
You can link to posts, articles, links and media within this section.
Some ways to use this:
- If you write articles, post them to LinkedIn, and link them here.
- If you make really great LinkedIn posts, link them here.
- If you have any other websites or portfolios (e.g. Github & Medium), link them here.
- If you’re really active on other social sites, plug those handles in here.
- If you have visual work to show (digital or physical art, graphic designs, photos, videos, travel photos), add it here.
- If you have great presentations (from conferences or competitions or sales pitches), add it here.
- If you have research papers or articles you wrote for the school paper, link them here.
I know those examples might’ve been overkill, but my point is: people don’t think they have anything to link in this section, when you most likely do. Take advantage of it!
5. Add Education & Licenses/Certifications
The more you know, the better.
Education is straightforward, just keep in mind:
- Include your GPA if it was notable, leave it off if not.
- Don’t forget to add clubs/associations/sports. Even if they aren’t relevant to your field, it’s still good to show that you’re well-rounded.
Even if the certification doesn’t seem relevant to you for a position, doesn’t mean that a potential employer sees it the same way. Link any and all licenses & certifications you have.
6. Max out your Skills
Beyond communicating all of the skills you possess, having your skills labeled on LinkedIn can help match you with job postings that require certain skillsets. So, by adding as many skills as possible to your profile, you’re actually augmenting the possibility that you match and attract opportunities.
You can add up to 50 skills, in areas like Industry Knowledge, Tools & Technologies, Interpersonal Skills, etc.
Because I’m a programmer, my Tools & Technologies section is a little more robust than the others, but I would highly recommend making sure you have a good balance between the sections.
7. Include (Relevant) Accomplishments
The accomplishments section is a great way to round out the rest of your profile. Including only relevant accomplishments ensures that your information does not get muddied.
You can add many different types of accomplishments.
A couple tips:
- Courses: only link to recent and relevant courses. That hiring manager is going to be confused why you’re still mentioning that freshman level creative writing course after starting your Masters in Public Health.
- Projects, Honors and Awards, & Organizations: actually describe what you did. It’s easy to just title it, give it a date, and call it good. But if the project’s worth including in this list, talk about what you did and try to highlight what transferrable skills you learned from it. Also, include links to code repositories, articles, videos, etc. that relate.
- Test Score: only include if recent, relevant, and notable.
8. Get Involved- Like Pages of Interest
While people can see what pages and topics you’ve liked on LinkedIn, that’s not really the point of this.
If you follow certain pages or topics, you’ll have a better chance of stumbling into networks of individuals with similar interests. In addition to getting more content catered to you, you’ll also increase the chances of quality online networking.
First, just search for things like:
- Thought leaders in your industry
- Companies/Organizations/Schools you want to follow
- Trends/Ideas you want to follow (as hashtags)
If you want to do more exploring…
- Check out your “My Network” tab.
2. On the left side of the page, you’ll see this dashboard.
3. Under either the “Pages” or “Hashtags” tab, you’ll see a page of tiles (if you’ve already liked things). At the top, you’ll see something like this.
4. The “Follow fresh perspectives” tab is where I would recommend first going to find companies, people, influencers, and hashtags to follow.
9. Get Connected
LinkedIn’s supposed “magic number” is 30 connections — after you hit that threshold, the relevancy of your news feed increases and more connections and opportunities open up.
When I was really working on my LinkedIn, I would watch an episode of Schitt’s Creek in the background while going through and making as many connections as LinkedIn would allow in a night. It was so quick and easy.
There are several different types of connections to make.
- Friends & Family (just search for them)
- Classmates & Alumni
Go to your university’s LinkedIn pages and click on the “Alumni” tab. You can filter by location, company, industry, major, etc.
Even if your peers aren’t alumni yet, they should still show in this list.
- Current & Past Professors/Teachers
You might have to just search for their names — they’ll appreciate the connection I’m sure!
- Current & Past Colleagues
Similarly, go to your company’s LinkedIn pages and click on the “People” tab. You can again use the same filters, or search the list.
- Conference Connections
When you go to a conference, try to snag a business card or name of people you meet. Afterward, send them a friendly note on LinkedIn and keep connected! If they’re in your industry, you never know when having that connection can help present opportunities or enhance your industry knowledge.
With everything virtual at the moment, conferences are likely to have Linkedin Groups (or someting equivalent on another platform) so you can see everyone who attended the conference. Take advantage of these as well!
- Company Connections
If you’re actively seeking employment, connect with individuals at the companies you’d like to work for — recruiters and individuals that have a similar job title as the one you are working toward.
When you cold-connect like this, make sure to include a warm note introducing yourself and the reason for wanting to connect. If you have a specific call to action, include that as well, as it will increase the chances of something actually coming to fruition.
Craft your Biography
This shouldn’t take you too long, but it does take a little more thought than the previous bits and can be tricky if you’re coming up with it from scratch.
The “About” section is one of the first things on your profile and has the opportunity to make a great first impression.
The “About” section should reflect who you are, which is why I don’t want to prescribe a way to do this. I have a couple guiding tips if you’re having trouble getting started.
- I found it helpful to begin with a one-sentence tagline intro, that tells who I am, what I do, and what I live for.
- Get creative — you could format it like an elevator pitch, divide it into a timeline of your life, talk about your most recent travel adventure.
- Talk about more than just your professional aspects. The first part of mine is pretty career-focused, but I make sure to mention my musical interest and coffee addiction.
- Don’t let it get too long — it doesn’t have a word cap. I’ve seen people who write a chapter in their bio, and it seemed to distract more than add. You want to tell them a little bit about you, but let your profile show the rest.
If you really need some help, get input from a friend who knows both your professional and personal aspects.
Elaborate on Experiences
If you don’t already have your descriptions for jobs and volunteer experiences fleshed out, this can take some time. However, I find it helpful to go over everything once, and come back to it later to refine it. Sometimes I go through a few iterations of editing these before reaching the fine-tuned product. The good news? It always pays off.
How you talk about what you’ve done is a make or break — on resumes and on LinkedIn. Being able to identify transferrable skills and highlight marketable traits about yourself is key. I’m planning on doing an article on this at a later point, so follow me to stay in the loop for updates :)
That being said, you should definitely include descriptions under your jobs and volunteer experiences.
You can use bullet points or a paragraph, whatever you’re used to. The more important part is to not make this too long. Be thorough, but succinct. Focus on the important parts, leave out the distracting details, and attach links where relevant. Even though you have more room than your one-page resume, it doesn’t mean you should use it — viewers’ attention spans are still just as short.
Put your Skills to the Test
This not only involves a concentrated time block, but might involved a little bit of preparation.
You’ve claimed you know these skills, but it’s even better if you can demonstrate that you know them.
Take the skill quizzes — but only when you’re ready.
I took the Python skill quiz as a pretty new programmer and was totally unprepared… not surprisingly, I failed it. You only get 3 chances, so make sure you aren’t just shooting the moon on these.
You Get What (Endorsements & Recommendations) You Give
Skill endorsements don’t take long at all — again, put on a show or a podcast.
Recommendations take a little more energy, but you can knock out a few in one sitting for sure.
Giving skill endorsements and recommendations to others on LinkedIn is a great way to increase the quality of your professional connections, not to mention that it’s just a nice thing to do.
Usually, once you give an endorsement or recommendation, they’ll be returned. If not, you can always just reach out and ask.
Skill endorsements just require a click.
When giving recommendations, I like to mention my relationship to the individual, what we worked on, top attributes of the individual (that aren’t mentioned in other recommendations, and especially interpersonal ones), and conclude by giving praise (e.g. “looking forward to collaborating again in the future,” “any team would be thrilled to have them”).
I hope those tips were helpful in getting you started toward all-star status and advancing your professional digital presence. Please let me know how these work for you, or if you have any additional pointers!