There are numerous articles on how to properly write your LinkedIn profile. With all the advice that is floating out there, it’s no wonder that LinkedIn members might be confused.
I am guilty of writing some of these articles, so I would like to provide relief for the confused people trying to write their LinkedIn profile for the first time, or revise the one they already have. What follows are some rules you can ignore for six important areas of your profile.
1. Your background image must reflect what you do
I’m sure some people are freaking out because they don’t have a background image that illustrates what they do, such as a medical lab for a tech, a row of million dollar houses for a realtor, etc. I get it. You want your background image to reflect what you do.
Don’t worry. People who visit your profile also want to know what motivates you, describes your personality, shows what you love. Take the image below that shows one of my clients enjoying the view of a mountain range she was hiking. And the image above which is…just colorful.
2. Dress to the Nines for Your LinkedIn Photo
I’ve said it myself and regret it. “Your photo should be professional.” So what is the definition of professional? Over the years the idea of a professional photo has changed, and so has my opinion.
Maybe you men were told that you had to dress in a three-piece suit, and you women were told you had to wear a dress suit with a white blouse. In addition, you were told you had to have a blank, boring background.
I used to advise my clients to do exactly this.
Now your photo can be more casual. Or you might prefer a theme-based photo that describes what you do, such as the one on the right. Can you guess what he does?
3. Your Headline Must Only List Your Professional Title and Employer
Whether you decide to go with a keyword-rich or branding statement Headline is your choice. Please don’t leave it as “Project Manager at IBM.” This doesn’t say anything about your value; it simply tells viewers what you do and where you work.
Instead, be creative and add areas of expertise that show your value, as well as contain keywords employers are looking for in, say, a project manager. For example:
Project Manager, ABC Company ~ Business Development | Lean Six Sigma | Projects On-Time, Under Budget
4. Make Your Summary Short
There are those who believe your LinkedIn profile Summary should be short because it will make it easier for recruiters to read. While I agree this applies to your resume, it doesn’t apply to your profile. Here’s why:
1) Don’t expect your visitors to read your whole Summary. They will be attracted to certain areas of expertise (written in all CAPs) and read that content.
2) With a short Summary you rob yourself of including keywords that help hiring authorities find you.
3) This is where you tell your story, so don’t leave out important details.
Here is an excerpt of what I consider to be a strong Summary, which uses all but 44 characters out of the 2,000 allotted. Visitors might read some of it, or they might read all of it.
Advanced materials and processes can form the basis for a product portfolio that will generate repeat revenues for years to come – if a company is able to leverage those innovations. I have been fortunate to participate in several technology firms where I’ve led teams that did exactly that. Here are a few keys to our success:
► BUILDING TALENTED TEAMS – of professionals who are leaders in their respective areas. Then, encouraging and rewarding them for their collective success.
► ENGINEERING CREATIVE SOLUTIONS – that solve the customer’s problem, but also create manufacturing differentiators that will lead to follow-on production.
Here’s what I offer:
► PROVEN TRACK RECORD – At growing engineering R&D firms into repeat manufacturing businesses with broad portfolios of products (including MSI, which was recently acquired for its manufacturing operations and product pipeline).
5. Only List Your Company and Job Title
Who says you have to stick to the “official title” of where you work or worked? I haven’t been told I need to list my official title of Workshop Facilitator first. (Not yet, at least.) My current title is:
Career Strategist ~ LinkedIn Trainer | Workshop Facilitator | LinkedIn Profile & Resume Consultant.
Another consideration is that your title might not make sense to people reading your profile. One of my client’s title was “Director of Innovation.” When I asked him what his title meant, he told me he was a Project Manager.
6. Don’t Personalize Your Experience Content
This is a tough one to comprehend. I see many profiles that are meager at best when it comes to their Experience section. People have been told, “Don’t regurgitate your resume.” Yes, don’t regurgitate your resume, but do include the meat of what you do/did where you work/ed.
I suggest beginning with a job summary that acts as a mission statement. For example:
When the power’s out and you can’t see two feet in front of you, your television isn’t working, the Internet is down; I’m the one who gets your power up and running. I love the feeling of fixing a generator that powers hundreds of houses. This is what makes being a Power Line Tech so rewarding.
From there you personalize your accomplish statements, as well.
► I’m often called upon to climb the highest towers during inclement weather, when others won’t. I thrive on this.
► On average, I repair damage generators faster than most Power Line Techs. My Supervisor has named me “The Magician.”
These are six important areas on you LinkedIn profile where the rules you’ve learned can be ignored. Don’t treat your profile like your resume; they are special in their own ways. Have fun constructing your profile.