While LinkedIn can be an effective networking tool, it’s no easy task to distinguish yourself from the half a billion other users who are also trying to stand out.
But just a few small improvements can have a big impact. Better yet: Just five minutes is enough time to take your LinkedIn profile to the next level. Seriously! Try one of these 10 quick ways, now.
1. Make Your Profile Public
Check your account settings, and make sure that your public profile’s visible. This simple change will allow you to show up in searches (and be spotted by recruiters).
2. Update Your Location
This’ll improve accuracy when someone searches for say, “Engineers in Dallas/Fort Worth Area” This step isn’t just beneficial if you’re looking to be recruited or be searchable for clients; it’s one way to take your online network offline. It’s how people in your extended network will know you live in their city—so they think to invite you to meet up for coffee or to a cool event.
3. Be Strategic About Your Endorsed Skills
Do you have endorsements for a bunch of run-of-the-mill skills that do nothing to help you stand out (Think: Microsoft Word, Google Docs)? If so, they’re detracting. You want your skills section to do two things: include keywords that make you more searchable, and reinforce the story you’re telling of who you are and what you can do. So, click into that section and do three things:
- Delete any meaningless skills (Hint: You shouldn’t list Facebook unless you’re trained in social media and manage professional pages)
- Add skills that are key for someone in your industry and role
- Reorder the list so your most important skills are on top
Before you say endorsements don’t really matter, you should know they do! This article explains exactly why.
4. Create a Customized URL
A custom URL makes it so much easier to send people to your profile—and means you no longer have to worry they won’t find you. (Case in point: There are 135 Kyle Elliott’s on LinkedIn.)
This article has easy instructions for customizing your URL—skip to step #4. It’s super simple, I promise.
5. Add a Background
This is one of my favorite features. It allows you to show some creativity—and highlights your brand. Think about what people instantly associate with what you do (photographer—camera; tech—computer, etc.) or choose from more than 20 free, professional options we’ve rounded up.
6. Update Your Profile Picture
According to LinkedIn, profiles with headshots are 14 times more likely to be viewed than those without a profile picture. Your headshot should be clear, professional and only include you.
So, take the time to browse through your phone for any photos like that—or snag the one off the team page of your company website. If you don’t have access to any, follow these tips to take a free, professional-looking headshot, and then take five minutes to load it in.
7. Add (or Update) Contact Information
Make sure your email, phone number (if you feel comfortable), website and other—professional!—social media platforms are listed on your profile. Remember: LinkedIn InMail is only available to Premium users, and you want to make sure anyone can contact you about great opportunities.
8. Improve Your Headline
This is your opportunity to impress potential employers and clients, so don't waste this valuable space. Most professionals list their current title or position, but don’t stop there. Add one other attribute that’ll help you stand out.
For example, “Executive Assistant” becomes “Executive Assistant - 25+ years of experience supporting CEOs, Presidents, VPs, Directors & other key leaders” and “Administrative” becomes “Bilingual (English & Spanish) Finance Professional - 5 Years of Experience Providing Financial & Administrative Support.”
Oh, and I recommend deleting “Looking for Opportunities” every time. While you may very well be searching for a new job, there are better ways to sell yourself. Look at companies like Apple: They don't say, “Looking for customers.” They instead show you why they are amazing. Be like Apple and put the emphasis on what you excel at!
9. Delete Jargon
Are you a passionate, results-driven team player? These buzzwords don’t really say anything, and they make you blend in with everyone else. Instead, remember the classic advice to “show, not tell,” by discussing you accomplishments and including recommendations where others vouch for you, too.
Here’s a list of the most overused words on LinkedIn—and more information on strategies to craft a profile without them.
10. Request a Recommendation
Testimonials go a long way. No one goes to a restaurant without first checking the restaurant's reviews, so why would someone want to hire you without a few reviews? Don’t be afraid to ask your current or past colleagues, supervisors, or former classmates for recommendations. (No excuses! Here’s a template for asking.)
A good goal is to have a minimum of one recommendation for every role you list.
Finally, don’t stop now that you’ve updated your profile. Muse columnist Erica Breuer lays out a plan to look active on LinkedIn in just 15 minutes a week, so keep setting aside those five minutes to share statuses and engaged with others.
While you don’t need to spend all day, every day updating your page, aim to take one action, once per day, Monday through Friday. It’ll build on your efforts to make your profile searchable and easy to navigate, so you really see results.