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How to optimize your LinkedIn profile

OK. So you finally have decided to revamp your LI profile. But you don’t know how exactly how to “eat this elephant”. Well like with all elephants, you’ll eat it piece by piece.

I will share my perspective as a Talent Partner/Job Developer/Job Hunter and maybe you would like to go and try out some of those things.

So, let’s go through this from top to bottom.

1. Banner.

Your LI banner is the first thing that people see when they visit your profile. If your resume is like a marketing brochure that you send out to sell yourself, consider your LI profile your e-commerce store where you sell the most precious product of all — YOU.

Approach your banner like a graphic designer and every good designer will tell you this:

If your design is pretty but doesn’t fulfill its purpose (gets the job done/serves the function), it is a failure.

Start with these questions:

  • Who is your targeted audience? Hiring managers and recruiters.
  • What message do you want to send out? The message that — “hey guys, I am an expert in A, B, and C, and I can bring value to your organization.

Every good designer will also tell you how crucial is the research step. They research their competition, not to steal but for the sake of inspiration. So:

  • What do other people who have a strong brand on LinkedIn do with their profiles?

Use Canva.com to make your design. Use templates if you need (you can also find some tutorials on Canva here).

I wanted to show some banners that I have designed for people on LinkedIn but I don’t want to expose their names without their permission. Instead, I will just walk you through some of mine.

V1. That was the first version of my banner. Made from a Canva template. Colours pop out. Grabs attention. But poor copywriting. Sounded too salesy.

V2. I wanted to get a cleaner look and feel. Something close to an Apple vibe. It was an improvement, but still not there. I also made it clear what’s my value proposition — “no-cost recruitment services”.

V3. Finally, I got very close to the look and feel I wanted. As you can see it is always an iterative process.

V4. I removed my JVS banner while I was job hunting and came up with something on the fly. So this is an example of a poorly designed banner. I liked the minimalism and aesthetics at that time, but it didn’t serve the purpose — it didn’t tell my story and didn’t showcase my value proposition. Also, the feel was completely off — as one of my friends told me, “distant, and cold, and leave me the 🤬 alone”, kinda feel. Totally, misrepresenting what I stand for. Refrain from putting quotes on the banner — you think they speak for your personality, but they really don’t. Content is a way better medium for showing who you are as a person.

V5. I finally took the time to sit down and redesign my banner. Again, as a minimalist, I wanted a clean look and feel. I put an image of ink because I write on LinkedIn, I put my career interests there, I put my biggest value that I champion in one sentence, and I kind of like the little nice touch as a pen/exclamation mark in the end 🙂

I chose “Authenticity” as my brand because it is my core value, but I also send the message to the employers that this is how I see applying my skillset.

V6. This is the version you see at the moment of writing. I serve as a vessel for the brand of CaseWare. I use corporate colours, I understand that talent is my target audience, and my message is crystal clear for them — CaseWare is hiring. Come and join us!

Don’t stress out too much about it. You see, a banner that captures the eye is better than no banner. But a banner that is functional and sends a clear message is always a brand/profile amplifier. And keep in mind. Everything is an iterative process. We flow, we change, we outgrow our past selves.

2. Profile picture.

People are biased. Job hunting is sales and in job hunting, the same rules apply — people don’t buy from businesses, people buy from the people they like. Increase the “likeability” of your profile. You don’t need a professional headshot, just use your phone and a selfie app, or ask a friend to take a picture of you. Dress professionally, be groomed up, and don’t forget to say cheese! 🧀😁

Here are some infographics I posted some time ago, might be useful:

3. Headline.

This is valuable real estate. Don’t use it in vain. Optimize for two things:

  • Optimize for the crawler (LinkedIn recruiter) that scans your profile. What keywords do you need to add to rank high in the types of searches in which you want to rank high? Add job titles. Add specific areas of expertise — niche software, techniques, abbreviations.
  • Optimize for the recruiter. How can you stand out? What catchphrase can you add to capture someone’s attention? What is your unique work style? What is your one-line pitch? Don’t write “open to new opportunities” — it is not a keyword recruiters search for.

Here is an interesting experiment you can do. Try on a hat of a recruiter. Imagine that you are hiring for the role you are currently applying for and try to source that candidate. What do you see when you run your search? What do people who rank high do differently? Pay attention to how they optimize their profile.

4. About section.

This is the most important part of your profile. Again, optimize it for the recruiter/hiring manager and for the crawler. Structure it in a way that it both tells your story and showcases your personality, but also lists all the necessary keywords. Don’t be afraid to spice it up with a couple of emojis, but in a tasteful and functional way. Keep it professional.

Short sentences, white space and bullets are your best friends. Bear in mind that 90% of the time people skim and scan when they read content online. A professional recruiter is someone who has pushed these skimming/scanning mechanisms to the next level. They will spend 6–10 seconds to read through your profile and make it a Yay or Nay.

Your job is to make it Yay. Make the recruiter’s life easier and give him a clear snapshot of everything he might be looking for. The recruiter wants to know only one thing: “Are you a potential fit for the job that is worth my time and whom I should phone call?” Give him an answer in short digestible easy-to-read paragraphs 3–4 lines each max.

Here is a sample/template:

  • This is what I am professionally/personally.
  • This is what I am good at/my strengths/areas of expertise/career progression up to this point.
  • This is what makes me tick/and what I am looking for/why you should call me
  • Skills: (keywords)
  • Tech stack: (keywords)
  • Methodologies: (keywords)
  • Contact information (email & phone number)

Explore your creativity, find your own voice, and keep iterating. Your About section will serve its purpose as long as it is optimized for: a) the human eye; b) for the crawler.

5. Experience section.

In a similar way, optimize your Experience section to rank higher in search results and showcase your expertise. The quality of your keywords is important but so is the frequency.

I suggest a simple format — for every work experience write a 1–2 liner summarizing the essence of the role. After that, add 3–8 bullets on your key performance achievements on the job. Integrate the keywords in the sentences. Use powerful action verbs like led, managed, improved, optimized (just Google it or check this article).

Expand on every work experience that you have. Don’t hesitate to put transition/survival jobs on your career history. Every experience counts. Even McDonald’s/Tim Hortons speak for many skills if you word it correctly — customer service, collaboration, coachability, and most importantly not being afraid to roll up your sleeves and get your things dirty when it is needed.

6. Recommendations.

What do we do before buying things online? That’s right. We read and watch reviews. We collect the social proof before making a decision. Well, hiring is no different. Hiring managers and recruiters read what other people say about you. Remember, their job is to minimize risk in the hiring decision. In order to do that they will use all the data, they can find including the testimonials about your work.

Reach out to your network, and collect those references. It’s especially helpful if your referees can endorse you for specific skills and integrate keywords in their writing. Those keywords will also show up during the search and help the recruiter to make that decision to add you to that “sourced” folder.

7. Licences & Certifications.

Same idea here. Take courses that will support a certain skill that is important in your domain. If it has a keyword in the title, it’s great. Make sure that you add those courses to your resume too. Add a Professional Development Section instead of Interests and Hobbies.

8. Education.

Still, a very powerful section because you can expand on it. You can write about:

  • Skills learned and utilized
  • Projects done
  • Awards and prizes
  • Extra-curricular activities (shows leadership skills and all-rounded versatility).

What have you done in your uni that contributed to your holistic development?

9. Featured Section.

I don’t know why I put it last because this one is super important. What can you add here?

  • Your best work and achievements (portfolio, personal website, Instagram, Youtube, Publications, blog, certifications etc.)
  • You can add a video resume. It’s hard to learn about the candidate just from reading the resume, if there is a video to click on, people feel curious. Use this opportunity to present yourself and tell more about your work and career aspirations.
  • If you create content, you can showcase posts that had significant traction. Also, if you are the one who is assembling a body of work that helps others, show it. Service to others is a powerful message in itself.

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So there you have it. This one was a bit long but I tried to make a comprehensive guide. Again, it is not a magic formula, just a perspective on things. It can be a good place to start your profile optimization but then at some point, you will have to step up your LinkedIn game. Remember, you can have a stellar 5-star profile, and it will all be for nothing if you are not connecting with people, creating your content, and building your personal brand.

We’ll talk about it in the next one. But for now, if you are serious about your job search, get your profile into shape, and feel free to share your thoughts on the matter.

Peace🙏

Let’s connect on LinkedIn! [https://www.linkedin.com/in/chengeer/]