Last month I wrote an introductory blog to personal branding and I’m thrilled to be bringing you the next instalment which focusses on LinkedIn which I briefly touched on in my last blog, but aside from setting it up and adding your employment history I didn’t even scratch the surface on how to customise your profile for potential employers and connections. These quick fixes will take you about 30 – 45 minutes to complete in all and will take your profile from amateur to all-star! I think this blog is tailored more towards those of you that haven’t taken the time to fully set up your profile, though there are lots of tips applicable to everyone at different stages of their career!
1. The Profile Header
First thing’s first, perfect your profile header. That’s this bit:
As you can see I’ve got a custom ‘background photo’ which is one that’s been provided by my current employer. All RedCat Digital employees have this banner across their professional social media profile as part of the employer branding. You should add your own photo here; something that’s related to the industry you currently or would like to work in. I think professional stock photos work the best and I recommend you go to www.pexels.com to find a copyright free (this is very important) picture you can make your background.
Arguably the first thing someone looks at on your profile is your photo so you better make sure it’s a clear and professional looking headshot. The photo I’m using is a selfie I took in front of a plain background using my phone. I’d avoid adding photos of yourself with alcohol, or group shots where you’ve obviously cropped everyone else out, to your professional profile. Best to just take a selfie or get someone to take a picture of your in your business attire.
My next recommendation is to add a custom headline. That’s the long title under your name. Most people opt for their job title and company; originally mine read ‘Marketing Manager at RedCat Digital’ but giving it a personal twist will set you apart from everyone else. Those LinkedIn superstars with multiple connections and followers will have a headline that says something about their job, skills and side projects. I’ve seen everything from ‘[subject] Graduate looking for opportunities in [sector]’ to ‘Life Coach Guru bringing control and stability to your career through blogs’. There’s no real right and wrong here, just keep it concise.
Finally, to complete this section you’ll want to make sure that your current location, job and education are always up to date!
2. The Summary
The personal or professional profile or, in this case, ‘summary’ should be more or less the same as your CV. Try to keep it tailored to your own skills and experiences, and keep it focused on the sector you’d like to be a part of. This is a section that really requires it’s own dedicated blog on how to strategically and effectively write a personal profile but it’s not something I’m going to cover here as part of this series. There are so many resources on how to write your professional profile for your CV; alternatively, take the time to surf through other LinkedIn profiles from your desired industry for inspiration. I recommend that you spend the time drafting, re-drafting and perfecting until you get it just right. Once you’ve done that, add it to your CV and to your LinkedIn summary.
3. Your Experience
If you have been following the series and read last month’s introduction blog you should have added in your chosen work experience to LinkedIn. There’s a bit of a knack to this so I recommend you go back and have a read.
4. Your Education
For some of you, this might be the largest part of your LinkedIn profile, and that’s not a bad thing. I have all of my qualifications on my profile, from my qualifications to my GCSE’s to my degree, but this isn’t necessary, I just like to use LinkedIn as my extended/ full CV. I recommend that you add in any and all relevant courses and, of course, your further education (BA, MA, PHD etc)
Personally, I like to add an entry for each stage of my education and add my to the description rather than filling out all the information as single entries. You may want to put the grade you achieved for your courses but I personally don’t deem it necessary as I think the grade of your degree(s) is the most important variable when applying for a role, alongside your experience.
4. Your Volunteer Experience
There are an array of local and national programmes running across the globe and schemes in place to get you involved in CRS (Corporate Social Responsibility) initiatives. It’s a fantastic opportunity to give up some of your time and help others or a cause and is always fun! You don’t have to go far to get experience that will help you to stand out if you can show you volunteered. It demonstrates character and teaches you lots of skills besides just looking good on your CV.
5. Featured Skills and Endorsements
There are varying opinions about the necessity of this section but I think it’s worth filling out. I’d say pick your top 5 skills and stick to them. It’s especially good if you work with particular programmes or suites. It’s easy to go overboard with general terms like ‘team work’ and ‘communication’ but you’re selling yourself short if you don’t choose to highlight sector specific skills and technical abilities.
I believe this section has a little more important than the skills section just because people are more likely to be swayed by a personal recommendation. If you’ve worked somewhere part-time or full-time it’s always a good idea to ask for a recommendation from your manager after you’ve left. Alternatively, you could get a recommendation from someone you worked on a project with. You can either initiate a recommendation by doing one for your colleague first or just outright ask through LinkedIn. I recommend the former as it’s a little less direct and shows you’ve already taken the time to do it for them.
Part of a sports team? Did you get involved in a running a programme at work? Maybe you were commended by your company or industry for work you did? Anything that’s an achievement that you received some acknowledgement for is worth putting here. Again this is going to build out your profile and reflect your character. You’ll also want to add in any additional courses, certifications and/or organisations!
Everyone has interests, mine is mainly social media, content marketing and video games and as such, I follow a number of relevant companies and people on LinkedIn and this is reflected in my profile. From my point of view, it wouldn’t make sense for me to bang on about wanting to work in the video games industry and not have this in my profile.
That concludes this part on personal branding on LinkedIn. Next time I’ll be revealing some of my content top tips to really put your profile(s) out there and help you to build your brand and your network.
If you have any questions about personal branding or would like to get in touch please don’t hesitate to email me email@example.com
Written by Kelly Newcomb, Marketing Manager
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