We’ve seen lots of questions about updating LinkedIn profiles in the Support Driven Slack, especially in the #career-development channel when someone is on a job-hunt and wants to make sure they are representing themselves well to potential employers. Charlotte Ward has spent a lot of time learning by doing on LinkedIn, and is a resident expert in the community. She presented “Marketing yourself on Linkedin – How to get people queuing up to see your skills” as a workshop at Expo Americas in Portland. I asked if she could share her tips here on the blog as well. Here’s what Charlotte has to say about sprucing up your profile. — Andrea B.
Sometimes you find a side-hustle, and sometimes a side-hustle finds you.
That’s what happened to me, and how I came to become a Linkedin “All-star.”
I’ve been in technical support for the last 25 years, as a contributor and leader. After two unexpected layoffs in the space of four years, I was, quite suddenly, job hunting. I quickly realised every job I was interested in was advertised on Linkedin. I intentionally built my presence, engaged my network, and through this process, became a Linkedin power user.
Jobs used to be advertised in newspapers. Or you could send your CV to a local HR department and expect a letter back a week later. If you were lucky, you might sit in a room with five other hopefuls on interview day, carefully selected from a pool of 20 applicants.
However, times have changed. Now, jobs advertised online routinely get hundreds of applicants. LinkedIn has over 575+ million users, and 20 million companies are listed there.
Nowadays, 90% of recruiters regularly use the platform, and most of those are looking at your profile ‘cold’.
It’s a tough market to be in, and you need to prepare to be part of the ecosystem. Having a presence or brand on Linkedin, having that level of exposure and visibility, just might be the key to your career success. Don’t put it off until tomorrow.
The changes I made were of almost instant benefit. My profile views went up more than 700% in the first two weeks. Through this, and strategic connecting, my network broadened, and strengthened.
The fact is, putting yourself out there is rather like being on display in a bustling city.
Your Linkedin profile is really your store window.
Imagine you need a new outfit. Would you visit this store?
It looks like they sell clothes, but I don’t know what sort, and it seems to be pretty empty, too.
They clearly sell clothes, but it’s bare-bones. There’s no style, definition, or targeted selling.
Similarly, the typical barely-there profile below tells me very little. I can see a job title, but there’s nothing to entice me to read further!
Did you know that just a good profile photo can get you 21x more profile views and 9x more connection requests?
This profile is pretty functional, too. It tells me little more than a basic job description. There’s no personalisation, no style, nothing about the kind of person this is.
Work through your Linkedin profile a step at a time, using the steps below. Keep coming back to each element and refining it. It’s important to recognise that there is no right answer. Explore what works for you. This is, after all, a personal journey.
There are three key steps to working through your LinkedIn profile.
Step One: Style it out
Your headline is the bit right under your name in your profile, and you get 120 characters to play with here. Don’t waste them.
There are many different approaches you can try. Try playing around with some of these strategies:
- Try to build an engaging headline that doesn’t include your exact job title or organisation
- “Zing!” moment… you’re one of thousands of service professionals – answer the “so what” – what’s unique about you in this role?
- Explain something of benefit to the reader, or success stories from your experience
- Don’t overload with keywords at the expense of personality.
- Avoid hyperbole (expert, capable, winning, proactive…yawn)
- Have fun!
If in doubt, use a fail-proof four-part formula:
Outline role | Primary industry | Superpower | Signature achievement (Zing!)
Here’s a great example from the workshop:
Step Two: Be found
Next, you need to consider how people might find you. You can have the best store in the world. The most luxurious and splendid array of products, but you need to tell people about it. You have to be found.
Remember those stats from the start? 90% of recruiters regularly use LinkedIn. 85% of all jobs are fulfilled via networking. People need to find you. Recruiters. Potential employers. Clients. Industry peers.
How do you find people? You Google. You search on Linkedin, too. Optimising your profile to get to the top of those search results is worthy of reams of blog posts and years of experience in its own right. That’s why the world has SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) specialists. However, you can use a couple of simple tactics to improve your chances of appearing on people’s radar.
Your Linkedin Summary is a great place to work on being found, and window dressing your profile a little more.
The most straightforward strategy is to make good use of relevant keywords.
As you craft your summary statements, use a good smattering of keywords that searchers are likely using. Repeat them through your profile. You get lots of opportunities to do this – start with your Summary (the big block of text under your headline), then move on to Skills, and Accomplishments. Anywhere you can mention those most critical keywords will strengthen your ranking. Aim for three solid mentions across your profile.
If you’ve crafted all the narrative for your summary section, you can bolster keyword frequency by employing a common tactic, which is to have a list of “Specialities” or “Key Skills”:
Don’t be afraid to use a little personality even in this area:
If you find you’re floundering for what keywords to use, here’s my top tip:
Search for the jobs you’d like to be doing. Find two or three examples, at least, and then do a keyword analysis on them. Match your profile keywords to the most common terms across all those roles.
In your Summary, aim to find ways to relate to your audience. This “window dressing” will give your experience greater context and real, verifiable credibility.
Step Three: Engage
Finally, how do you advertise? How do you create a social buzz that brings people to your “store”? This is, after all, social media.
You need to engage with the platform. There’s a ton of ways to do this, and you should aim to engage as regularly as you can, in any way you’re comfortable.
- Create media and build a portfolio
- Join groups
- Connect with peers, leaders, and influencers
- Write articles
- inMail – genuinely reach out to people
- Invite people who aren’t on there yet
- Tag connections
- Give kudos
- Hashtag events, disciplines and industries
- Link to and from other sites, and your business card and email signatures
These three things – showcasing your style and brand, maximising your SEO and engaging with the platform – will keep you at the top of people’s feeds as they drop in and out of the platform. They’ll see what you’re working on, and how you align with their needs at any point. They’ll engage with you in turn.
They’ll buy what you’re selling.
So, here’s the aim. This is Harrods Christmas window display from 2018. It tells a story, it’s aspirational, it’s well-maintained, it’s seasonal. It makes me want to explore more.
Your profile is the same as a store window.
- Keep it spruced up!
- Change with the seasons.
- Make it a ‘lifestyle.’
Charlotte Ward has a tech support career spanning 25 years, on the front line and in leadership, for blue-chips to startups, from databases to integration to eCommerce to SaaS. Now, she heads up her own consultancy, building exceptional customer care and support experiences that customers will want to tell their friends about. Five years ago, she loathed Linkedin. Now, she loves it. (And yarn). You can connect with her at https://www.linkedin.com/in/charlottecward!