Most of us work hard to shine when it comes to branding ourselves on social media, especially on our LinkedIn profile! Given that so many progressive HR departments have integrated an ‘apply with LinkedIn’ plugin to their open jobs listings, landing a better job could actually depend on it today. So how can you tell if your profile on LinkedIn is, LIKE, TOTALLY AWESOME? Well, if you answer YES to any of these questions, then the chances are your AWESOME SAUCE could use a bit more spice!
1. Is your personal profile written in the third person?
Unless you are such a big deal that your company’s PR department manages your personal profile because you are considered a ‘brand’, you need to be writing your LinkedIn profile in the first person. Always! No excuses!
• You wrote your own profile. I wrote mine. Deena and Smriti wrote theirs. You know it. I know it. Basically everybody knows it, and people see through it so just keep it real and tell your tale – yourself.
• Profiles written in the third person come off as trying to appear ‘bigger’ than they really are, which sadly makes them look smaller.
2. Are you missing a killer SUMMARY?
Whether you want to share what makes you tick (as a professional), give a snapshot of your experience, or simply list your specialities. You should have a summary.
• In the spirit of full disclosure, my summary is absurdly long. In fact, I think I am literally three characters away from maximum – but it’s broken up in a way that doesn’t seem daunting (in my humble opinion). Definitely combine text blocks with some bullet points and label paragraphs in CAPS to jazz it up.
• It’s one of the only places on your profile where you can really let your hair down and freestyle it but be sure to keep it professional.
• Your personal bits do NOT belong in your summary. They go below in the Additional Info >> Interests section.
• Be sure not to post blocks and blocks of paragraph text because very few people will have the time or inclination to read something so daunting.
• Think ‘small chunks’ of info to keep people engaged.
LinkedIn’s built-in search feature sends out bots any time someone searches the platform that read your summary + job titles + company names, etc. Be sure to optimise your summary with the right keywords for you.
• This is most important for business owners, sales professionals or job seekers but it’s not a bad idea for anyone looking to be a thought leader who wants to show up more in search results.
• LinkedIn suggests keywords based on your top skills and from other similar profiles but be sure to add in products or services if you want potential clients to find you.
4. Does your photo show something else besides you?
Your photo is there for people to put a face to a name, to see who YOU are and to get a sense of your personality. There’s no need to run out and have your profile pic shot by a professional but it should definitely have a professional edge.
• If you’re the creative director of an ad agency, are in sports or work in rock n’ roll then your profile pic can be much more creative / hip / cool than the average professional. Otherwise, keep it simple.
• No sunglasses, no leaning on cars or posing with your favourite pet (unless you own a pet-related business), and definitely don’t use your latest vacation pic.
• The best photo choice is of ONLY YOU. It should be clear, with nothing else recognisable in the background, preferably a head and shoulders shot or cropped a bit tighter on your head.
Keep It Real…but Shiny!
Like Mom says, ’it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it’, and that sure rings true here. To be honest, I definitely have a narcissistic personality and I’m not shy when it comes to talking about me or things I’ve done. However, being overly boastful on LinkedIn would only serve to make me look self-absorbed – and definitely less of an expert than I really am – ‘cuzlet’s face it, when you’ve really ‘GOT IT’ you don’t have to brag and fluff up your own feathers like that.
Definitely share your successes but keep anything and everything you post fact-based or achievements-based! No fluffy stuff, no observations and definitely MINIMAL opinions when it comes to talking about yourself.
Tips to Quickly Improve Your Profile:
• Check it for TYPOS! I found out the hard way that I had a typo in the first sentence of my Summary when it was pointed out to me by a potential employer (SOOOOOO embarrassing!). After that I went to my profile, copied the entire page, then pasted it onto a Word doc, only to discover TWO more typos! Trust me, do this today for a little peace of mind.
• No TOOTIN’ your own horn! Stick to the facts, keep adjectives to a minimum (I think I use ‘excellent’ ‘diplomatic’ and ‘happy’ each once but that’s about it) and definitely don’t make how AWESOME you are feel like an opinion >> that’s what Recommendations are for.
• Choose your PIC wisely! Just like those crazy profiles written in the third person, having a photo of yourself in über posh clothes, taken in an überposh environment or a photo of you speaking and surrounded by other people watching you can come off as WAY too ‘look at me, me, me’ and like you’re trying too hard.
I have a brother-in-law – Barry – who’s an engineer, who truly believes that there is just one right way to do things. From making a sandwich to using the ‘right’ knife, he sees a very clear black and white line between his way (the right way) and other ways. Now, normally I’m a fan of the ‘there are many ways to skin a cat’ ideology but when it comes to LinkedIn, I’m gonna pull a Barry! There really are best practices that should be followed (ehem, the right way) that are very black and white but will help you to put your best foot forward in no time at all.