No matter how you slice it, there are five areas you must nail on your LinkedIn profile. People’s opinions vary on the order of importance, so the best I can do is give you my take on this and why I list them in my order of preference.
In a poll I conducted a year ago, of 1,189 people who voted, 46% chose the Headline over the About and Experience sections. I was in the minority and chose About (24%). The runner up was Experience (30%).
I’m not going to rehash this poll other than to say I’ve changed my mind in terms of how I rank the sections. (Hey, if politicians can change their minds, why can’t I?) Were I to vote again, I would place the Experience above the other two.
I’m not trying to be contrary here. The reason why I think Experience is so important is that this is where you hit recruiters over the head with the accomplishments. Stick with only the accomplishments and chuck the mundane duties. This is how you nail the Experience section.
Many recruiters will skip the LinkedIn profile About section and leap to Experience. This is similar to how they treat your resume; they go directly to Experience because—quite honestly—the resume Summary is often filled with fluff, whereas you can’t fake the content in Experience.
I want to bring up one of my pet peeves. I see too many C-level job seekers make the assumption that their visitors know what they did/do at their positions. They simply list the company name, their title, and months/years of experience. By doing this, they’re robbing readers, namely recruiters, of valuable information. It also comes across as arrogant.
Here’s how it should be done from one of my former client’s job summary:
“As the Director, Marketing Communications at ABC Compnay, I planned, developed and executed multi-channel marketing programs and performance-driven campaigns, using digital marketing principles and techniques to meet project and organization goals.”
Notice how he used first-person point of view? Use first person point of view for your accomplishments as well. Take, for example, an accomplishment statement from a resume: “Volunteered to training 5 office staff on new database software. All team members were more productive, increasing the team’s output by 75%.”
The same statement on the LinkedIn profile sounds more personal: “I extended my training expertise by volunteering to train 5 office staff on our new database software. All members of the team were more productive as a result of my patient training style, increasing the team’s output by 75%.”
To read a more in depth article on the LinkedIn profile Experience section go to 5 reasons why you shouldn’t ignore your LinkedIn profile Experience section.
The Headline is my second choice of areas where you must nail one of the five sections. I’ve read thousands of LinkedIn profiles—this is a fact I had to double check—so I’ve seen the good, bad, and the heinous.
A Headline that meets the heinous criterium would be “Seeking Next Opportunity,” and that’s it. This adds absolutely no value to a potential employer; rather it simply tell them the job seeker’s situation.
Meg Guiseppi, Personal Branding Strategist says this about the Headline:
“I always want people to reinforce their personal brand by getting some personality in their headline. But I feel packing it with keywords is more important. For the most part, save the descriptive adjectives for your About and Experience sections, and elsewhere.”
Here’s an example she gives:
CFO, Senior Finance & Operations Executive – Alternative & Mobile Payments Pioneer, Global Monetization, E-commerce, M&A
Keywords are important, especially if you’re in the job search, but I also like to see a short, impactful tagline. Take Lezlie Garr’s Headline that includes a tagline following her keywords:
Career Change Advocate | Certified Career Transition Coach & Resume Writer | LinkedIn, Interview & Job Search Strategist | I help ambitious professionals shift out of soul-sucking work and into meaningful careers
Not to dwell on that notorious poll, but this section was my first choice a year ago. As I said earlier, people are allowed to change their mind. This said, About can be impactful if done correctly. But many people don’t put in the effort to make this section great.
To nail About you have to tell your story. Story, you may wonder? What does Bob mean by this. This is where you can describe what drives you to succeed or problems you face in your industry and how you solve them.
Here’s a brief example of a client of mine who’s baiting readers by asking them in the first paragraph if they need his services.
Are you looking for someone who can increase your ROI? With my product development, sales management, and channel management experience, I am a triple threat and will add great value to your company. I am a sales/product leader and global channel manager with a demonstrated history of working from startup to large… see more
Another LinkedIn member uses the body of his About section to explain his experience in product management/marketing with a brief caption below. He lists five areas of expertise in all to tell his story.
►DEEP PRODUCT/TECHNOLOGY CAPABILITIES: My roots are in product management/marketing. This strength has enabled me to understand and market complex technologies. I have had success with a wide variety of innovative B2B and healthcare products, including data analytics, data prep, data integration, cybersecurity/compliance, telecommunications, and IoT platforms.
There are various ways you can conclude your About section, one of which is to list a call to action where you list your contact information. You can also reiterate your value to employers or, in my case, tell readers that you see the bigger picture.
𝗜 𝗚𝗘𝗧 𝗜𝗧
If you’re unemployed, you don’t need to be told that being out of work can be challenging, both emotionally and financially. I know because I’ve been there. So I’ll be the last person to tell you to not feel bad. However, I will tell you that it’s temporary. I’ll also tell you not to go it alone.
A recent article I wrote goes into greater detail on how to write a killer About section: 8 tips on how to write your LinkedIn profile About section, plus sample text
Why do I list Activity as one of the sections you need to nail on your profile? It’s simple; you demonstrate one of the most important components of a LinkedIn campaign, engagement. If I see no pulse in someone’s Activity section, I assume they posted their profile and just let it sit there.
This article is about the LinkedIn profile, but you have to look at the big picture. It’s not worth writing a stellar profile if people don’t know you exist. There are four simple ways to engage with your network:
1. Start by following LinkedIn members
You might want to start following people before connecting with them. You will still see their content in your feed, but you won’t be able to communicate with them directly unless you have a premium account and use Inmail to send them a message.
2. Actively search for content from LinkedIn members
Hopefully your first- and second-degree connections, and the people you’re following are like-minded and produce content that gels with you. For example, if you are in Supply Chain and want to read, view videos, or hear podcasts on this topic simply type “Supply Chain” in the Search field at the top left-hand corner of any page. Then select Posts.
3. Search for content companies produce
LinkedIn allows you to select hastags (#) which categorizes content. Instead of spending time on your feed searching for your desired topics, type in the Search engine #(topic). For example, if you want to read articles on digital marketing, type #digitalmarketing and select Posts.
4. React and comment on what others write
Once you’ve chosen who to follow or connect with, their content will be displayed in your feed. However, LinkedIn doesn’t show all of the content that LinkedIn members you follow produce. You’ll have to actively search for it. This might seem like a needle in a haystack.
If you’re wondering why I list Education last, it’s simple. This section is the last one before Licenses and Certifications, and it can’t be moved like in days past. This is one reason why Education comes in last place.
More so, LinkedIn members dismiss this section by treating it like their resume. What I mean by this is that most of them simply list their school, location, and degree. But there’s so much more a person can write about their experience in school. Madeline Mann is a great example. Here’s what she writes:
University of Southern California
Master of Science (M.S.) Field Of Study Organizational Development – Applied Psychology Activities and Societies: Phi Kappa Phi
• Part of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society – only top 10% of the program selected for this honor
• Served as the sole student representative on the program’s admissions board
Managing and Developing People, Strategy and Organization Consulting, Statistics, Organizational Psychology, Facilitation Design, Research Methods, Group Dynamics and Leadership.
The program turns psychology insight into business impact with a rigorously applied curriculum that combines research focused material in Dornsife College with MBA courses in the Marshall School of Business.
Do you see how well she uses the description area, rather than leaving it blank. This goes to further nail her profile.
You are probably wondering why Skills & Endorsements and even Recommendations weren’t included as areas you need to nail on your LinkedIn profile. And this is a fair question. Here’s the thing, these two sections have taken a serious nosedive in recent years.
Think about the last time you were endorsed for a skill. Are you being endorsed on a regular basis? Are you endorsing others? Now think about the last time you wrote someone a recommendation or received one. I think this makes my point.
Further, these sections are buried so low on the profile that people rarely look at them. I only visit these two areas on someone’s profile when I’m doing a LinkedIn webinar or training. And this is simply to say that one of my connections has 99+ endorsements for many skills, and that he hasn’t received any endorsements since.