Written by Alyssa Potempa, Career Center Graduate Student
LinkedIn is a popular career-oriented social networking platform that is used widely across various industries by employers and job seekers. Not only do companies and organizations make job opportunities available through this site, but the platform also allows users to network professionally with people in numerous career fields. When you develop an “All-Star” profile, you make yourself more appealing to employers by showing them what you have to offer and how you stand out against other candidates. Below are 10 helpful tips for constructing your personal brand through your LinkedIn profile.
- Choose a professional photo of yourself
When deciding on a profile picture to upload, select a picture that best depicts a “professional you.” Dress according to the environment/industry you desire to work in. It is recommended you wear business attire for your photo and that the photo be taken from the chest up.
Be aware of your background. When taking a photo, make sure to stand in front of a backdrop that is not distracting. Avoid using selfies or low-quality photos as well. Lastly, remember to smile!
- Include a professional header photo
Include a header photo on your profile as well. It is important to note that a LinkedIn header is not the same as a Facebook or Twitter header. The LinkedIn header is more of a complementary piece that makes your profile stand out visually. As opposed to a header of you and your coworkers, friends, and fun activities that often appear on other social media platforms, your LinkedIn header should depict something from your industry or professional life.
For example, if your current career is a full-time student, your header can be a picture of your university’s or college’s logo. If you work for a construction company in St. Louis, make your header something construction related or even a picture of the city. Your header should be creative and unique to you and your line of work, but still professional, as you do not want it to detract from the most important information on your profile: your content.
- Customize your URL
LinkedIn allows users to customize their profile URL. If you head to your profile, you should see a button that says, “Edit Profile & URL.” By customizing your URL, your profile is not only easier to search, but also more appealing if you choose to attach your LinkedIn profile to your résumé or email signature. An example of a customized URL could look like this: http://www.linkedin.com/in/BoomerBear.
- Create an attention-grabbing headline
The headline section of your profile should showcase the professional position you are currently holding or wanting to pursue in the future. It should answer the question: What is your professional status?
- Example 1: “Accounting Student at Missouri State University”
- Example 2: “Project Manager for ABC Construction”
- Write an effective summary
Your summary is not meant to be very long or wordy, so it is important to be descriptive yet concise. This section is similar to your 30-second commercial/elevator pitch and should highlight who you are, relevant experiences, accomplishments, and skill sets, along with your career goals and professional aspirations. This section is the first content area viewers will see on your profile, so it should give a realistic first look into who you are as a professional individual.
- Describe your experiences
Many LinkedIn users make the mistake of just copying and pasting the bullet lists from their résumés into their LinkedIn profiles and calling it completed. In fact, your experience section on your profile should be an extension of your résumé. Whereas your résumé is constructed to be a more concise and condensed document, your LinkedIn profile gives you the opportunity to expand on your professional experiences by allowing for more detailed explanations to capture each experience fully.
Include past and present (full-time or part-time) employers as well as details regarding your responsibilities and duties. Think about the following questions when constructing your bulleted statements:
- What tasks/responsibilities did you do/accomplish?
- How did you go about completing those tasks/responsibilities? With what tools/resources did you use?
- What was the end result?
- Showcase other relevant sections
LinkedIn gives users the opportunity to include sections other than just their professional experience section. Reflect on your past accomplishments and experiences and consider adding sections that those accomplishments/experiences may fall under. As a student, you definitely should include your education, as this will tell employers the school you are attending, the degree you are pursuing, and the date you will graduate. You also may want to include a section of classes you have taken or completed projects that relate to your career field.
There is no limit for how many sections a profile should include; however, make sure all the information is kept updated and that it is complete and detailed.
- Actively participate in the LinkedIn community
LinkedIn is more than just creating a career profile; it is a way to explore your professional fields of interest. You can be an active user by following companies and brands that you not only enjoy, but also could possibly see yourself working at one day. Subscribe to newsletters and join professional groups. LinkedIn is not a social media site in which you can post about your favorite meme or what you had for breakfast. Instead, actively begin to create professional posts. You can do this by linking business journal or articles you find interesting or insightful, commenting or sharing others’ posts (I am a big fan of sharing TED Talks), or even creating your own posts. Employers are known for checking out a user’s activity, so make sure to keep your posts professional. Keep in mind that being an active member does not necessarily mean posting 24/7.
- Add skills and ask for endorsements
LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to highlight your skills as well as have others endorse you on those skills. Make sure you do not ask just anyone to endorse you. Reach out to those people who know you and your work ethic well enough to endorse you. This can be a cohort member, a professor, a coworker, or your supervisor. This is one section employers especially pay attention to as it not only showcases what you bring to the table, but it also shows who agrees with your skill sets.
- Network, network, network!
The power of networking is so important, especially in this digital age. As with endorsements, do not just add everyone and anyone you know. Make sure the connections you are making on LinkedIn are intentional and impactful. If you do not know where to start, try connecting with alumni. Missouri State University’s Alumni Page is a great resource to use to network with alumni in your career field, especially since they were once in your shoes (I’m a Bear; you’re a Bear). No matter who you are connecting with, always make sure to customize your invitation by introducing yourself along with why you would like to connect with them. This is always a nice common courtesy to practice.
Below are additional links that can help you navigate LinkedIn:
The Career Center is here to help with any of your LinkedIn needs. Feel free to contact our office or make an appointment with one of our staff members via Handshake to further discuss any LinkedIn questions or career needs. Find us on social media, too. Need more LinkedIn pages to follow? Follow the Career Center to stay updated on events occurring through our office.