Customising Your Linkedin Profile: 5 Key Areas To Optimise
By the time you get to this stage you will have the foundations in place that are necessary to build and optimise your LinkedIn profile. But even though you may have added information when you created the initial profile it’s important to revisit each of the key sections – I will describe- to ensure they are at their optimum.
There are 5 key areas to optimise and I can testify to the benefits of doing this because it helped me to be found by recruiters and employers when they conducted searches for potential employees. Having said that some of the optimisation work was done over the medium to long term so I didn’t see immediate effects and neither will you. But rest assured you will get out what you put in.
In this section and go to show you how I went about optimising each of the 5 key areas, note that you will need to be in edit mode in order to change content in each of the areas. Please assume that I’m in edit mode throughout this section.
There are two ways in which you can access edit mode LinkedIn
- by hovering over the profile link in the navigation bar and clicking edit profile
- by pressing the grey profile button which appears within your profile near the top
The 5 Key Areas to Optimise
Having a highly visible, relevant and professional Linkedin profile is paramount to being ‘found’ by potential employers. At the time when I was vigorously looking for opportunities I had a highly visible LinkedIn profile and I did so deliberately to attract the attention of people who might be able to offer me work. My efforts to optimise my profile didn’t go unnoticed because I got this message from Linkedin.
But to be honest I didn’t expect or want an award or commendation I just wanted to get noticed and I was definitely able to achieve that with a basic linked in profile.
LinkedIn was a valuable component of my 360° job search strategy because it allowed me to network with recruiters, employers, colleagues and new contacts. You can also position yourself to be found by recruiters and employers when they perform searches for prospective employees but it is important to optimise your LinkedIn profile so that it can be found and so that it appeals to their needs.
What is Linkedin profile optimisation?
As I mentioned earlier, there is no silver bullet for success where linkedin profile optimisation is concerned, and how easily you are found depends on
- how your profile is visually
- the density of relevant keywords
- and how active you and your profile are in the LinkedIn community.
But what is LinkedIn profile optimisation all about? Well a portion of linkedin optimisation is about strategically adding keywords so that your profile is included in searches relatively high up the list of results (within search engines and linkedin itself).
Aesthetics and personal/profile activity are important portions of the optimisation process but I’m going to focus on one of the key areas of optimisation and that is embedding relevant keywords that appeal to humans and LinkedIn algorithms.
I’ve pinpointed five key areas because Linkedin’s search algorithms scour these key areas for keywords to check for ‘relevant’ information and then rank individual profiles accordingly.
But before I begun optimising my profile I knew that I needed to search for keywords to add. Don’t just dive straight in, first you need to use the Internet to research keywords that employers and recruiters might be using to look for job seekers in your niche. Your keyword research – which should focus on technical/hard skills – could be via niche job boards, recruiters’/employers’ websites, job adverts and job descriptions. You can also apply a little common sense to figure out the potential keywords employers might be using to search for someone like you. Yes, a lot of time and effort is required here but remember that compiling this list of keywords can help you with your CV, covering letter, job board profile etc etc.
Other means of finding keywords
- jobs written by recruiters posted on linkedin
- perform searches for people in your niche and look at high ranking, well written profiles to see their keywords
- pay attention to the auto-suggest keywords that linkedin presents when you are adding skills
Key Area #1 Professional Headline
Right, now that you has compiled a list of your keywords you’re ready to start drafting your LinkedIn profile. The first area to revisit and optimise is your Professional Headline which appears directly beneath your name in a prominent position, much like a newspaper byline.
Whilst in edit mode click the second blue pen icon down to access the headline and write something that
- contains important keywords
- describes your expertise and who you are
- is positive, confident, professional and draws the reader’s attention
Other than your name, your professional headline is one of the first things an employer will read before they even open your main profile so it’s crucial to get it right to encourage them to want to open and read your full profile.
An excerpt of the Professional Headline can be viewed by those browsing and searching LinkedIn via search results and in the snippet on the right hand side and right-hand sidebar. Have a look at the ‘People you may know’ section and the ‘People also viewed’ section and you’ll see live examples.
Remember the aim of any Professional Headline is to enable the employer to immediately recognise your area of expertise. If you’re a Finance Accountant include your job title and keywords related to your niche, ditto if you’re a Management Accountant. Be sure to keep it brief, my professional headline is around 14 words and can be read and absorbed within a couple of seconds.
Key Area #2 Summary and Specialities
Another key area that I knew I needed to embed relevant keywords is the Summary section which immediately beneath your picture in the area of your LinkedIn profile entitled ‘background’.
The Summary section is similar to the Profile section of the CV in that it is there to encourage readers to want to view the rest of your profile and immediately see your most relevant experience. However, the summary paragraph can be much longer than a CV profile and can outline significant technical skill and outstanding achievements within your niche target area. A model summary will contain the following four elements
- Says who I am a XXX who [ and I can use a job title here]
- what do I do and/or have done
- the achievements and end results of the work I’ve done
- Has a call to action to prompt the reader to do something.
The beauty of this section is that you can retrieve and write about things retrospectively to highlight aspects of previous jobs and to build a picture of who you are.
On the other hand, the Linkedin summary should not read like a CV. I knew that I needed to avoid robotic, stilted and overly formal language at all costs so that the employer can get a feel for my hard skills and persona without getting bored. The trick here is to engage the reader with the right words whilst optimising the summary so that it gets found and listed in recruiter and employer searches.
Keep the summary relevant to your target audience and update it as and when you gain more relevant, significant achievements and skills ensuring that it doesn’t become too cluttered.
I also included my Specialities in the summary section focusing on hard/technical skills because Linkedin search algorithms will detect them in keyword searches. Once again I knew it was important to choose the right blend of keywords and skills to improve my chances of being found organically.
You can use the summary section to highlight skills and achievements from previous jobs if your most recent job is not completely relevant to the jobs that you are pursuing, take time to research appropriate keywords and construct the summary so that it matches with your target job (and the expectations of recruiters and employers who are looking to recruit somebody like you).
Key Area #3 Job Title and Description
The Job Title and Job Description – in the ‘experience’ section – are also key areas sensitive to recruiters’ and employers’ searches so again I knew it was important to choose words that that recruiters and employers were targeting at the time.
Again make sure you are in edit mode and click the blue pen icon that appears next to the job title you entered when you activated your LinkedIn profile. Optimise each job that you entered but don’t simply cut and paste text from you CV in fact it shouldn’t read like a CV at all. Write in the first person in language that is engaging.
Each job you enter should run in reverse chronology, back-to-back but it’s not necessary to put every job that you did in the past.
Obviously make sure that you use your given job title and focus your efforts on optimising the job description area beneath the job title with a short sharp paragraph that is focused on significant achievements in your career.
You’ll notice a recurring theme in the job description and title section in the example below, my previous roles focused on SEO and luckily that particular keyword was also part of my job title. But in order to punctuate this I added the keyword SEO systematically in the job description which improved my chances of being found.
Key Area #4 Skills and Expertise
The Skills and Expertise section is another key area that I focussed my efforts when optimising my LinkedIn profile you might already have added some skills into this section in the initial setup phase I described earlier. But as I mentioned it imperative to revisit to ensure that you got the right skills and have used your 50 skills quota.
The skills and expertise section can be found beneath the education section by default and you will need to be in edit mode in order to edit this section.
When editing this area find skills using the search box. Type in your desired skill focusing on hard skills/technical skills and you’ll notice that an auto-suggest box will appear. I’d advise you to pick the skill that you’re looking for from the auto-suggest list that LinkedIn presents because these are words that recruiters are likely to be using to search for prospective hires. And as I mentioned earlier on focus your efforts on finding keywords that match the criteria of your job search for example the key areas for which I wanted to be found were recruitment, search engine optimisation and online marketing so my keywords covered all three of those areas.
I would recommend optimising for more than three areas of expertise/niches.
You may also choose to optimise for one particular niche but you’d essentially be putting all your eggs into one basket and might miss out on other opportunities. From my perspective I decided to focus on search engine optimisation but if you do so, one word of warning, avoid stuffing and duplicating keywords.
Words within the auto suggest box that appear towards the top of the list are usually the more popular keywords.
Make sure that you select the ‘Display your Endorsements’ option so that readers of your audience can see what you’re good at and to allow colleagues to endorse your skills. More on endorsements in a moment.
At the time of writing LinkedIn allows you to add 50 skills and expertise keywords, and I’d advise you to take advantage of this by adding as many as necessary whilst avoiding duplication and keyword stuffing.
Key Area #5 Endorsements
Now that you’ve added to your Skills and Expertise keywords you need to encourage those within your network – who know you or your work, well – to provide you with endorsements. This is crucial and will have a direct impact on the likelihood that your profile will appear in a decent position in Linkedin’s search results. I made sure that the ‘I want to be endorsed’ radio button was selected (as it should be by default).
Focus your attention on getting endorsements from your most credible referees for example ex managers, contacts or colleagues who know your work well. The more endorsements you get for a particular skill, the more likely you are to appear in search results when someone is searching for that skill.
Other Areas To Add Content
Whilst in edit mode I also decided to add relevant courses that I had taken just to signpost to recruiters and employers areas in which I was developing. You can find the courses section directly beneath the experience section (by default) and when you press the edit link you will be able to write your courses in freehand.
The interests section – which will find under ‘additional info’ – is a useful area to fill out with things that you like to do but bear in mind that what you write will act as a key word. Make sure you separate each keyword with a comma. Once I finished editing, try hovering over each keyword that you enter and click the link, you will notice that it will take you to a list of people on LinkedIn who match that particular keyword. This indicates that ‘interests’ may well form an important part of LinkedIn search criteria.
You will see from my list of interests that I’ve incorporated a mixture of professional technical skill related keywords as well as more leisurely activity like football just to show I have a life outside of work.
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