How to Set Up Your LinkedIn Profile for Job Search Success

How to set up a LinkedIn profile

In an environment where 77 percent of companies use social media to recruit new talent, optimizing your LinkedIn profile is essential. A well-designed and compelling LinkedIn profile may prove to be the deciding factor in whether you get the job. Take the time to make your LinkedIn profile as engaging as possible.

Grab attention immediately.

LinkedIn asserts that it takes recruiters an average of three seconds to determine their interest in a profile. Typically, recruiters will skim major details such as the Industry tab, Job Title, Previous History or even your profile picture. If none of these details catches their attention, you could easily lose a position for which you are otherwise qualified.

Your profile picture is a very important part of this split-second decision. A professional-looking headshot displays a different work ethic than a casual photo. Having no photo at all can deter recruiters because they have no face to tie to a name among dozens of applicants.

Job titles and summaries also play an important role during this step. Here, you can either generate serious attention or undermine your own job search by failing to highlight your expertise in an engaging way. Be brief and concise. When developing titles and summaries, try to settle for using the least amount of words in the most powerful way possible—nobody wants to read your life story on LinkedIn.

Keep them interested.

Now that you've developed an attractive and enticing first impression, let’s dive deeper:

Things to avoid:

  • Bland descriptions of generic positions. Even if your last job was truly the most boring ever conceived by humankind, your job now is to make it sound exciting. Think deeply and assess the responsibilities that your employer placed on you. How did you achieve success in that position? What did you do that made you stand out? In what ways did your employer trust you to do the job well?
  • Trying to appeal to everyone. You only get one shot with a recruiter on LinkedIn. Thankfully, you can only work one job at a time, so focus on appealing to the specific recruiters that interest you most.
  • Spreading your skills and experience too thin. This is a common mistake made by young professionals who have worked in a variety of positions and are unsure what career path they wish to take. You may feel like a Renaissance polymath by listing various credentials in a wide variety of unrelated fields, but from a recruiter's point of view, this says, "Jack of all trades, master of none." Focus on a particular field and exclude information that isn't directly relevant to it when making your Linkedin profile.

Things to do:

  • Brand yourself. It's easy to misunderstand what branding means. Branding is the method by which you distinguish yourself from your competition and give others a clear sense of your professional identity. This is as important for you as an individual as it is for Coca-Cola, so make sure that every element of your profile produces the same clear, lasting and distinguishing effect.
  • Grow your network One factor that goes into the "first impressions" category of your profile is the number of connections you have and who those people are. Also, having more connections ensures you show up more frequently in search results, so reach out to people and gain connections.
  • Get endorsements. Some people feel like endorsements are superfluous, but staffing agencies routinely use them to discover talents. Get your skills in order and embrace any endorsement you can. Once you have a network of connections made, you can readily add endorsements to your profile, giving it a sense of social proof that will keep recruiters interested. While it is possible to opt out of endorsements and hide them, it is not recommended.

Look to LinkedIn's own blog for more information on how to add some memorable final touches to your profile and create a lasting professional impression.