Why Your LinkedIn Profile is So Critical

As we approach the end of the year (and what a year it has been), some of you are probably looking to move on. At the same time, you may not know exactly the best way to go about that. Well, I have some good news for you. The answer may boil down to one word: “LinkedIn.”

Jenny Foss, career strategist, recruiter, and the voice of the popular career blog JobJenny.com recently suggested to a client that, if you’re a professional and you’re not on LinkedIn, you very nearly don’t exist.

What did she mean that “you nearly don’t exist”? That is, “very nearly you don’t exist in the eyes of recruiters” who use LinkedIn as their primary resource for finding outstanding candidates or checking out applicants to fill their available positions—every single day.

While you probably know that you need to be on LinkedIn, what you may not know is that recruiters don’t just want to see that you have a profile, they want to see evidence in that profile that you’re worth the effort of tracking down.

Your LinkedIn profile page is the foundation of your branding. So you need to take that profile very seriously. Here are 7 profile features you should check and update for 2021. Some of them are very quick wins, some of them may take a little bit of time – but all of them are extremely worthwhile if you’re serious about that new job.

1. Picture

It’s much easier to connect and engage with someone when you can put a face with the name. Choose a clear, friendly, and appropriately professional image. If you are unsure what “appropriately professional” means, take a look around at what the people in your target company, industry sector, or business level are wearing in their pictures.

Your background photo is the second visual element at the top of your profile page. It grabs people’s attention, sets the context, and shows a little more about what matters to you. It could make the difference between a memorable profile and just another name.

2. Network

Having fewer than 50 connections on LinkedIn tells recruiters one of three things: 1) You aren’t very social, or know very few people, 2) You’re paranoid about connecting with others, or 3) You’re afraid of technology and social media.

You don’t need thousands of connections, but you should have at least 50-100. One of the quickest ways to grow your LinkedIn network is to sync your profile with your email address book so that LinkedIn can suggest connections to you. Beyond this, make it a habit to follow up meetings and conversations with a LinkedIn connection request – it’s a great way of keeping your network updated and vibrant.

3. Performance

Recruiters spend the bulk of their time on LinkedIn searching for high performers and then contacting them. So to have a chance, you need to market yourself as a high performer through your verbiage (think action words, accomplishments, the same stuff that stands out on resumes) and by having multiple endorsements on your profile.

4. Recommendations

While endorsements give your profile a quick sense of your value, recommendations take it to the next level. Endorsements are personal testimonials illustrating the experience of working together with you. The drop-down menu in the Recommendations section of your profile eases your outreach to specific contacts to request recommendations.

5. Headline

Who says that the description at the top of your profile page needs to be just a job title? Maximize that headline field to say a little more about how you see your role, why you do that which you do, and what makes you tick. Get inspiration and ideas by looking at the headlines on other profile pages.

6. Summary

The summary section is your opportunity to share your story – so don’t waste it by just listing your skills or previous job titles. Bring those skills and job experience to life through your brief but powerful storytelling. Give it over to be critiqued. This is your most personal piece of content marketing – and it’s worth the time and effort.

7. Skills

One of the quickest wins on LinkedIn is listing your relevant skills. Scroll through the exhaustive list of skills and select those that are relevant to you. This list will substantiate the description in your Headline and Summary and offers an easy way for others to endorse you.

A skills assessment is an online test that allows you to demonstrate your skill levels and post a Verified Skills badge on your profile. Data shows that candidates with verified skills are around 30% more likely to be hired for the roles for which they applied. It also displays proof of your abilities and strengthens your personal brand.