Regardless of your age and stage of life, learning how to write a great LinkedIn profile is becoming a must, and its professional network community is overall becoming a major resource and tool in your job search toolbox – as well as it is for recruiters and HR departments for companies large and small.
Making a strong intriguing impression on LinkedIn has never been so important, and for those that realize that a LinkedIn profile is more than just a history of your work, work accomplishments, and network of colleagues – is VERY important to understand.
More and more employers are using LinkedIn as a tool in their searches and the recruitment process in general.
There are many articles and books on the internet on the subject, but many fail to show you HOW to Write a Great LinkedIn Profile, what to include, what NOT to include, and if you are over 50, how to be more creative and focus more on what you can bring to an organization, rather than focusing solely on your age alone.
I will share with you what I have found during my 35-year career to be key elements that will help turn your profile into a great tool that will help you stand out and make more employers and recruiters take notice.
Why Is A LinkedIn Profile Important?
A well-planned and inspiring written LinkedIn profile builds trust and credibility. Did you know that LinkedIn, the professional social networking platform, has been around longer than Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram? So why is that so important?
LinkedIn is a social network that has been around since 2003, and over time has become extremely important and popular, especially in the past few years. On LinkedIn, people can make professional connections and expand their network by connecting with previous co-workers or employees of companies they admire.
LinkedIn now hosts more than 600 million professional profiles, which means nearly an unlimited supply of network connections and job opportunities. From seeking a new job to maintaining your brand, using LinkedIn is an important part of being full-fledged and engaged professionally in any industry these days.
LinkedIn is a major showcase for your selling brand to employers and your network where they find value in your background and will see you as a knowledgeable professional. You can reassure skittish prospects and attract new ones by improving your brand. Whether you write industry articles, win professional awards, or are recognized by peers, customers, or superiors, LinkedIn can house and showcase far greater and in great detail – more than even a great resume or cover letter can be due to its engaging and ever updating social platform.
Here are a few GREAT reasons to create a LinkedIn account and profile — or dust off your long-forgotten one.
A Powerful Job Resource and A Brand Building Platform
Just like companies build their brands, you need to build your professional brand online. How do you stand out from others in your industry? What makes you marketable? What contributions have you made to past employers that they are willing to post rave reviews of those experiences? Have you written and published any expert white papers on LinkedIn or other professional organizations or platforms?
Personal websites are great for this, but they often come with costs, you need to understand SEO (search engine optimization) and perhaps even HTML coding. LinkedIn is a simple way to put your name on the professional map, by just uploading a professional profile picture and writing a strong and compelling summary that emphasizes your strengths and showcases your personality and career highlights and accomplishments.
When recruiters, employers, co-workers, and managers look at your profile, they should be able to gain a strong understanding of who you are and what skills you bring to the table, and how you can bring value to their organization.
Stay In Contact with Your Contacts
All those great contacts that you have gathered and met throughout your long professional career are assets that your younger less experienced competition cannot match. They just have not been in the workforce that long nor have they met as many key decision makers as you have at all those business meetings, product/ service reviews, industry conventions, shows, seminars, or on business trips.
Instead of just throwing those business cards in your desk drawer or adding their email addresses to your outdated address book, add these folks to your professional network on LinkedIn when you meet them. When you do, re-introduce yourself (do not leave the conversation without them remembering you, and keep in contact with them in your connections so one day you can reconnect when the time’s right.
I cannot emphasize this enough; LinkedIn is such an important networking tool for professionals. Use its power, because others will, and that will put you behind the times and seem outdated and irrelevant – not a good situation.
LinkedIn As a Research Tool
These days, many companies maintain LinkedIn pages where they’ll update company information, share company news and insight, and showcase current employees. If the company knows what it’s doing, you should get a good, solid feel for its culture and its people to make sure it’s a fit for you before diving into the interview process or accepting a job.
That is EXACTLY what you want to strive for – use it as a model for building your profile, and keep it UPDATED.
Like other social networking sites, LinkedIn aggregates a timeline when you log in. There, you’ll find news updates from your connections, your groups, and your company. It’s both fun and wise to keep tabs on industry trends and reports.
How to Write a Great (And Effective) LinkedIn Profile
- Start with a professional photo and attention-grabbing headline that will allow people to recognize you if they see you at a conference or trade show. As much as you love your family, leave them out of your picture, and just make it a photo of you. I would recommend going to a professional photographer experienced in headshots, which is ideal, but if you cannot afford one, any recent photo that accurately represents you.
- Tell your story! An effective LinkedIn profile requires time and effort to create. The profile highlights what makes you unique and improves your chances of getting the attention of recruiters. My favorite strategy to strengthen the success of your profile is to capture what makes you “you”. Make yourself alluring to potential employers, this section is the key to your LinkedIn profile – use it wisely.
- Highlight your past work experience. The experience section is another crucial part of your profile.
- Ask for skill endorsements and recommendations. Social proof is powerful. Future clients, employers, and connections want to know what others think of your work. Consider keywords carefully, when hiring managers look for candidates for highly competitive jobs or are looking to fill an open position on their team, they search for applicants using keywords.
- Stay active on LinkedIn. Participate in conversations. Post articles, and make prospective employers know you are knowledgeable and a respected force in your industry.
REMEMBER: LinkedIn is a social networking tool, if you want to get the most value from it; you need to be an active user.
If you were wondering how many benefits LinkedIn could provide you, then hopefully this article convinced you, as it is one of your most powerful professional tools in your job search. With it, you can build and maintain your network, search for jobs, and build your professional reputation. Plus, it’s free. So why wait?
Also, for those of us older professionals, this is the SINGLE MOST POWERFUL tool we have at our disposal since we can highlight our talents, network, and accomplishments in a manner that resumes, and cover letters cannot. Plus, when competing with younger candidates, you will have so much more to showcase.
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