Improving your LinkedIn profile

Jan 22, 2015

Can you improve your LinkedIn profile? You almost certainly can, but why should you? According to LinkedIn’s own statistics around 50% of users haven’t completed their profile.

A completed profile will have information in the following sections:

  • Your Industry and Location
  • An up-to-date Current Position (with a description)
  • Two Past Positions
  • Your Education
  • Your Skills (minimum of 3)
  • A Profile Photo
  • At least 50 Connections

Again, according to LinkedIn’s own statistics…

Users with complete Profiles are 40 times more likely to receive opportunities through LinkedIn.

So, if you’re using LinkedIn as a way to promote yourself, your business or even as a networking tool a complete profile will make you stand out and afford you better opportunities in a crowded network.

Assuming I’ve got your attention – here’s some ideas for improving your profile:

Sort out your profile picture.
The profile picture is the biggest problem with most profiles and it’s really simple to fix.

No profile picture is excusable if you’ve joined LinkedIn that week, after that time you’re just being lazy.

A company logo says that you’ve been forced onto LinkedIn by your boss or you’re only on to promote your company. That means you’re unlikely to be considered a quality connection.

A cartoon image of yourself is just unacceptable (unless you’re an animator, but even then I’m not sure). You’re not 13, this isn’t My Space and it’s not unique.

A picture from a night out “with the lads/girls” is fine for almost every other social network but LinkedIn is primarily a business network, your picture should reflect this.

A blurry/out of focus/badly cropped or squashed image sticks out for all the wrong reasons. If you’ve included anything similar to the words “computer literate” on your profile and your picture is any one of these then you’re not. Learn how/pay someone to do it properly or take those words out of your profile.

A picture of your pet is again, fine for most other networks but you’re the one on LinkedIn, not your pet.

A good profile picture is an easy thing to sort, either go to a professional for some headshots or get someone with a steady hand and a decent camera to take a picture of you in front of a plain, neutral background. LinkedIn is an online service so a decent smartphone will take an acceptable picture.

A great headline.
This one is a little tricker, but worthwhile putting some time into. Your headline will be one of the ways you will be found on LinkedIn so it should be short and to the point, ideally it would include your job title or main skills. If it is appropriate to your business you could even include something a bit playful as well.

Profile summary.
This is the CV equivalent of a personal statement, so just like your personal statement it should sum up what you do quickly and not be boring. After your first draft ask yourself “so what?” if you can’t justify something being in it, then get rid of it. A good rule of thumb when writing is that you can remove 50% and it will still make sense.

The first paragraph could be a brief introduction, followed by a short description of what you do and a final paragraph qualifying the claims you have made in the second. If you’ve said you’re a great leader then this is the paragraph to prove it. However there are some overused buzzwords and phrases that should be avoided:

The words innovative, creative and effective shouldn’t need to be said, it should be obvious from what you choose to highlight in your summary. You’re an adult so you should be responsible and organised, there’s no need to tell people. Finally, it’s 2015 – being computer literate is no longer a skill, it’s necessary to function on a daily basis. Try being specific in how you are computer literate, you could include details of relevant training and courses that highlight your computer skills above someone elses.

What else?
So, if you’ve done everything on the list above there’s a few more things you can do to improve your profile and to up-your-game on LinkedIn.

  • A white lie or two on your CV could be expected but put one on your LinkedIn profile then people you worked with are likely to take issue, especially if you’re taking more credit than you’re entitled to.
  • Promoting your page is as easy as sharing a profile link on your email signature or website footer.
  • Don’t be afraid to refuse a connection from someone you don’t know or someone that isn’t relevant. You should have a varied selection of connections but they should be relevant to the type of business you’re in or the type of connections you want to make, you should regularly review your connections and if necessary get rid of the ones that are of no benefit to you.
  • Your skills and endorsements should be from people you trust and relevant to you. You don’t have to accept all endorsements and you can use LinkedIn to edit what you want to show, what order and even who has endorsed you for them. If someone has endorsed you for a skill that they’ve never seen you use then they may not be a good promoter of you should someone ask.
  • Skills, endorsements and connections should be a case of quality over quantity. Thousands of connections and hundreds of endorsements may look good but it’s difficult to interact with thousands of people.

Ultimately these are all just personal suggestions, not definitive rules. You can choose to take my advice on all or some of them and you’ll experience varying degrees of success. As long as you put some time and effort into building a well written, complete profile and are a little choosy with your connections then your LinkedIn profile will serve you well.