Creating a Professional LinkedIn Profile
June 24, 2019
Creating a Professional LinkedIn Profile
The impact of social media is ever increasing in the professional world, with almost all companies marketing to current and potential customers through Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. In addition, LinkedIn has evolved into an essential recruiting tool for job seekers and employers, alike. In fact, a standout professional LinkedIn profile is no longer just “nice to have” - it is an absolute must.
LinkedIn is incredibly useful for students seeking professional internships and entry-level jobs, and will also benefit your networking efforts. Hiring managers often look through LinkedIn profiles to scout potential employees in their fields. When filling out job applications, you might notice that employers ask for LinkedIn profiles. Your professional LinkedIn profile is a valuable asset to showcase yourself and what you offer to employers.
Since companies use LinkedIn to data mine for potential clients and employees, you need to ensure you market yourself effectively. In addition, new customers and business partners may review your LinkedIn profile to learn more about you before they agree to work with you. In this blog, I have guided you through creating your professional LinkedIn profile in a way that highlights your skills to maximize your employment and networking opportunities.
Unlike a resumé, a professional LinkedIn profile must include your photograph. Your picture is the first opportunity to make a good impression on potential employers. Without a photo, hiring managers and/or HR reps may not even bother reading the rest of your profile because you might be a catfish. Above all, know your platform. This isn’t Facebook: your photo must be professional. Ensure that you are appropriate - no revealing or tight clothing, no bathing suits or shots of you at the beach. It should be a picture of just you, not a group photo with your friends.
The picture should match the image you are trying to project. For example, if you aspire to a creative role (such as marketing, designing, or advertising), then your clothing and pose should reflect your creativity. However, if you aspire to join the world of investment banking or management consulting, ensure that you choose conservative clothing and a professional pose, such as a traditional head and shoulders shot in front of a background with neutral colors. Either way, you should not add any filters or effects which take away from the impression you are trying to create.
Contrasts are also important. If you are wearing dark clothing, a light background will provide much-needed balance. You don’t want to blend into the background, or look like a floating head. You should also have a natural, relaxed smile, that conveys friendliness but maintains professionalism. Do not use a picture that is cropped too closely or taken from too far away - the picture should include your head and shoulders. Do not use a picture that has obviously had another person cropped out. When in doubt, always err on the side of conservative professionalism.
In your professional LinkedIn profile, use the name you will go by in the working world, not a nickname. For example, if your name is “Robert,” but you always go by “Bob,” list yourself as “Bob.” If your name is “Robert,” but you sometimes go by “Rob,” list yourself as “Rob” or “Robert.” If your legal name is “Mark,” but you go by your middle name “Connor,” use “Connor.”
If your name is “Florence” but you go by “Fluffy,” (real example), you should use the more professional version of your name, aka “Florence.”
Your professional LinkedIn profile requires a title, which will convey your position and goals to employers in a few words. When choosing a title, you want to be accurate, but don’t limit yourself. For example, if your title reads “Aspiring Data Analyst at BC’s Carroll School of Management seeking opportunities for the summer” - you may be excluding yourself from opportunities outside of Data Analyst roles, or beyond the upcoming summer. A better title may be “First Year Business Major at BC’s Carroll School of Management, seeking a finance internship.” This small change means you aren’t limiting yourself to only Data Analyst roles, and are opening yourself to opportunities for the following semesters as well.
This may seem straightforward, but consider carefully how you represent your location. For example, if you list your location as “Carver, MA,” a small town outside of Boston, most people will have no idea where you are located. If instead you list “Greater Boston Area” as your location, you have just increased your scope and appeal exponentially. Employers from Cape Cod to New Hampshire may now consider your profile. Go for the broader exposure (within reason) when filling out your profile. Conversely, do not list too great a geographic area, such as “New England” or “The Northeast,” as you could miss out on searches that target your city.
The objective summarizes who you are, what you do, what your strengths are, and what your goals are. It should be brief, but should also include keywords that are often used by applicant tracking systems (ATS). For example, if you are an aspiring accountant or financial planner, be sure to include certifications in your professional LinkedIn profile such as a CPA or series 7 licensure in your objective statement, as well as keywords such as “analytical, quantitative, and detail-oriented.”
Now comes arguably the most crucial part of your professional LinkedIn profile: your experiences and background. The information you include in this section gives potential employers an idea of the experiences you bring and where you worked, studied or volunteered. They can use this section for context regarding whether you’re fit for their organization or not.
- Work Experience - In reverse chronological order, list the job titles you have held and the company names. Take advantage of the “description” section to outline your concrete responsibilities. For example, clearly describe projects you might have led at your previous internship or work-study job. Quantifiable data such as number of followers on your blog, or number of applications you read as an admissions assistant can help employers further understand your responsibilities.
- Education - List the schools you have attended and degrees you have earned. Do not include high school information once you are more than two years out of high school. Using the “courses” section to add your classes informs employers whether you’re skilled in certain areas or topics within your field.
- Licenses & Certifications - Provide any professional licenses and certifications you hold, such as a CPA, a CFP, a Series 7, etc.
- Volunteer Experience - Include any relevant experience you have had in community service or a volunteer capacity. Consider carefully when completing this section. For example, volunteering with a politically-affiliated group, such as the Brooklyn Democrats, may alienate half the population of employers. When in doubt, leave it out.
Even if most jobs offer training, employers have certain skills that they’re looking for in applicants. In your professional LinkedIn profile, select skills that match your strengths, background, and experience. You can select up to 50 skills, but more is not necessarily better. Use your best judgment and prioritize your top 5-10 skills. In-demand skills that companies seek include the following:
- Analytical Skills
- Project Management
- Conflict Resolution
- Customer Service
If you’ve been published in a national publication, or received awards include them in your professional LinkedIn profile to continue showing tangible achievements. Include a list of any accomplishments, as appropriate, in the following categories:
- Test Scores
- Honors & Awards
If you are actively job seeking (for full-time or internship opportunities), be sure to include a resumé in your professional LinkedIn profile. If you have a blog or a website that relates to your career aspirations, include links, as long as the topic and content are appropriate. Your online persona should be consistent. Ensure that any information on your LinkedIn projects professionalism across all online platforms.
Your professional LinkedIn profile can be a powerful tool in your job and internship search tool belt. Be sure to use the social media platform effectively, monitor your activity regularly, and update your profile as needed. For more information on building your resumé throughout college and guidance on landing that first job, contact InGenius Prep’s Career Counseling office today!