Why do I need a LinkedIn profile?
Whether or not you're job hunting at the moment, a LinkedIn account is now a vital professional tool. With over 600 million users in over 200 countries, LinkedIn provides the perfect platform to support you in every aspect of your career. Let's consider the main benefits:
It's used by recruiters to advertise jobs and headhunt candidates, so a strong LinkedIn profile, combined with active use of the job-search tool to access several million job postings, could be the gateway to your next role.
You can build a virtual professional network which acts in much the same way as a real-life network, offering mutual support, advice on job openings, industry insight and introductions. You can also follow influencers and role models.
The Groups function enables you to stay abreast of industry news and trends. Plus, if you contribute by commenting and responding to questions from others, you could even build a name for yourself as an expert in your field.
Many organisations have their own LinkedIn pages, so if you're targeting a particular business for your next role, you can follow these pages to stay informed about their news and vacancies.
You can build your personal brand by developing a standout LinkedIn profile that highlights your particular areas of experience and expertise, which can then be endorsed by other professionals in your field.
It's free! Sure, there's a paid option, but for most purposes, the free package that enables you to create a LinkedIn account and use the basic functionality is more than adequate.
How do I create a LinkedIn profile?
So, you've decided to create a LinkedIn account, but how can you get the most out of it? Just like a CV, there are certain sections you need to populate to ensure you're presenting yourself to your best advantage. That's why TopCV includes a professional LinkedIn makeover as part of its Executive Priority CV-writing package. Here, we'll explain how to create a LinkedIn profile that really showcases your professional value and develops your personal brand.
The right photo
Your ideal LinkedIn profile photo is a clear headshot against a plain background, ideally in your work clothes. Remember that your aim is to present a professional first impression on recruiters. It's also known that LinkedIn profiles that include photos get significantly more views, so if you don't yet have those professional headshots, now is the time to get them done.
An attention-grabbing headline
LinkedIn will automatically set your headline to your current job title and company name, but you can change it to something more engaging. We recommend doing this, as it's the only part of your profile that is displayed in a search, apart from your name and photo. Increase the chances of a recruiter or new contact clicking through to your full profile by changing your headline to something more interesting and memorable. Think about your USP, industry, area of expertise, successes and keywords that will grab someone's attention.
A unique summary
This section of your LinkedIn profile is your opportunity to show a recruiter who you really are – think of it as your elevator pitch. While a CV can be quite formal, you can let your personality shine through when you create a LinkedIn profile. Explain what you do, where your passions lie and what you specialise in. It's also worth considering adding a call to action, telling people why they should contact you and how.
Detailed professional experience
Common mistakes for this section include not adding any detail at all or simply describing what your company does with no reference to your personal input. There's no need to include an exhaustive list of every responsibility you've ever had at each organisation, but try to summarise in one or two sentences exactly what you were hired to do, and then briefly expand on this to ensure that the recruiter can really understand the scope of your role. Don't forget to add a list of quantifiable achievements in each position.
Education and professional development
The detail you include here will depend on how much professional experience you have. Assuming you have a couple of years under your belt, this only needs to be a top-level overview of your qualifications. More recent graduates can benefit from adding further detail such as modules, projects or dissertations completed. There are also sections for courses and certificates, which are useful for highlighting your industry-specific knowledge ‒ even internal courses count!
Try to add as many relevant skills as possible – this will increase the number of keywords in your LinkedIn profile and therefore increase the number of times you appear in search results. While soft skills are valuable, here you should aim for industry- and job-specific keywords.
People in your network are able to endorse you for these skills, which adds credibility to your LinkedIn profile. If you don't feel comfortable asking directly, endorsing colleagues yourself will often result in reciprocal endorsements.
Similar to a reference, a personal recommendation significantly strengthens your LinkedIn profile. Don't be shy in asking for them, but be generous in giving them too.
Completing your LinkedIn profile
The sections above should be completed for every LinkedIn account, but depending on your experience, you may find that other sections are relevant too. You can add languages, publications, voluntary work, projects and awards, for example. You can also personalise your URL and add media.
Now you know exactly how to create a LinkedIn profile, don't just log off and leave it to gather dust! It's important to keep it updated as you gain new qualifications and secure new jobs. You should also check in often to endorse others, comment on posts, build your network and even post your own articles or media. By maintaining an active presence, you'll be the first thought when your network hears of suitable jobs. In the meantime, you'll be building your profile, ensuring you're abreast of industry and network developments and showing that you're confident in what you do.
How can I create a LinkedIn profile that performs well in searches?
It's important to fill in as many sections as you can. Make it easy for potential connections and recruiters to contact you by providing different options in the Contact Info section, stay active on the site and build a large network. Use plenty of keywords too – but make sure they fall naturally within your headline, summary and experience sections. Keep them aligned with your experience and expertise, as excessive keyword stuffing can mean that your profile falls foul of spam-detection algorithms, defeating their purpose in the first place.
Creating a LinkedIn profile is really a valuable investment of your time – it only takes a few minutes to set up, and you'll reap the benefits of it for your career long-term.
Did you know you can get a LinkedIn profile makeover from TopCV? Select the Executive Priority package and you'll receive a transformed online profile with your professionally written CV.