I Sent My LinkedIn to 2 Career Coaches — Here’s What They Said to Change
Early in my writing career, I didn’t pay much attention to my LinkedIn profile. That was before it occurred to me how much it could help me find potential job opportunities: The truth is, over 900 million people use LinkedIn and eight people are hired every minute on the platform. I realized that LinkedIn could act as a hyperconnected resume that does a lot of the work for me if I was willing to give it the attention it deserved.
I spoke to Tracy Tanner, the head of the Estrella Mountain Community College’s Career and Transfer Center, and Cassandra Thompson, a career coach in the Phoenix area, about the importance of the networking site and, most importantly, what they thought of my LinkedIn profile. Here are their five suggestions for how I can improve my LinkedIn presence.
My cover could use a redo.
The background cover of my LinkedIn profile is a typewriter. Although it relates to my profession as a writer, it doesn’t do much else. “It’s a little bland and could use a little more personality to grab more attention from networking partners. It tells me nothing about [you] other than [you] type things,” Tanner says.
Thompson agrees with Tanner, and also recommends adding an email address and where my work has been featured. “Some employers won’t scroll past the cover image,” she says, so you want to give them an incentive to look at the other sections of your profile.
I should amp up my headline.
My current headline says “Journalist, Writer, Editor, and Attorney,” which is a fair representation of my roles, but I could add more, Thompson says, to flesh out what these titles mean. She suggests adding where my work has been featured, the categories I write about, and adding a simple line stating, “I help __ do __.”
Also, adding vertical lines to separate new information is helpful. “Experimenting with the headline is good to do periodically because you can always change it,” Thompson says.
My “about” section needs work.
The “about” section in my LinkedIn profile is adequate, but likely doesn’t do enough to attract recruiters or potential employers. “[This] ‘about’ section is middle-of-the-road. It tells me about who [you are], but what it doesn’t do — and where I think it falls short for LinkedIn — is give me that wow factor that makes [you] stand out from the crowd,” Tanner says.
Thompson encourages adding personality to the section by identifying where I’ve been featured with links, topics I’ve written about, any online courses I’ve taught. She says utilizing caps and emojis can break up the text and also add a little something to the overall personality in this section.
My skills section is lacking.
Although I’ve listed writing and editing as my skills, the list is a little too generic. Thompson suggests adding what specific writing I do, whether it’s content writing, ghost writing, or freelance writing. The more specific the skills, the more a recruiter or potential employer can get a refined view of what I actually do.
In order to improve my skills section Thompson encourages me to ask for more endorsements. “Your endorsements actually matter a lot because you get found in searches if you’re endorsed more,” she says. Sometimes asking for endorsements is intimidating, but, Thompson says, “one way to ask for them is to give them, too.” Let people know you’re working on your LinkedIn profile, ask what you’re looking for in an endorsement, and let them know you will do the same for them.
Activities posting requires consistency.
Although I have posted recent writing on my LinkedIn, according to Tanner, it isn’t enough to make an identifiable impact. “Within [your] activity section, [you have] a posting from a week ago and three weeks ago and then [the] content jumps to six months and eight months,” she says.
“For those who are truly attempting to use LinkedIn to pull more connections, they have to post every week, sometimes every day, to maintain their spot in the forefront of people’s minds,” Tanner says.
Top Tips for LinkedIn Profiles
Both experts have general tips for people looking to improve their LinkedIn profiles. Here are four general takeaways.
- Always use a professional-looking headshot. “It might be tempting to use a selfie or leave it blank, but have a friend work with you or use the self-timer on the phone,” Tanner says. It really makes a difference.
- Your headline should go above and beyond your job title. Thompson and Tanner recommend creating a headline that invites recruiters and employers to explore further.
- Request recommendations. Tanner recommends talking to people who can speak to your strengths and contributions to your field. Thompson suggests approaching recommendations by quantifying what you want in a testimonial. Ask the question, “Would you be willing to write three or four sentences focused on the following?” and then list what would be relevant to you.
- Engage consistently. “Setting up your LinkedIn is only the beginning. Make sure you keep your profile up-to-date with your latest accomplishments, projects, and experiences so that others know you are engaged in your professional development,” Tanner says.