For the past few days, I’ve been looking over internship applications. Most of these applications have a LinkedIn page attached to them. Since I’m specifically looking for social media interns, this is an essential factor in my decision-making process. However, it’s shocking to see how many Linkedin pages are incomplete or lacking critical information. Many factors go into having a well balanced Linkedin page starting with the fundamental data.
No matter if you are looking into creating a Linkedin page for the first time or you need a severe overhaul, this ten-step guide will ensure that you will be on the right track in the end. Go through step by step and make sure each item is correct and up to date. Use your best grammar and if yours isn’t right, then get someone to help. If you can’t find a friend that will look over your page, I can look over, create, or edit your page with you!
The Ten Steps to Creating a Great Linkedin Page
1. Personal Information
When you first create your Linkedin profile you want to make sure you have all the right information. Gather and prepare to use a professional email, your legal name, your phone number, and a professional photo. This information will be the start of your profile and in many cases, the first thing people will see about you. Remember, the best professional emails are your name. Think about any combination of your name and initials you can and try these first. It’s best to avoid numbers when possible though it can be harder for people with more common names. It’s best to use a good email client like Google rather than AOL or Hotmail. See below for a few examples of professional emails using a common name.
The best photo will be one that is professional for your industry. You can never go wrong with a suit and a simple background. Pay for a professional photography session to make sure you have what you need. A photographer will be able to get the best photo of you with the right dimensions and proportions. The picture should be well lit. It’s best if you are looking at the camera either relaxed or smiling. Try to avoid photos that have more than one person or show you in a casual environment. As you grow in your industry and learn the best practices, you can change your photo to reflect the professional side of your personality.
2. Work Experience
Listing your work experience comes with a few judgment calls. To begin, prepare all your past jobs with the dates you worked there and the responsibilities you had at them. Think of any significant accomplishments you might have had working there. There are many schools of thought on this one, and each one has good and bad sides. You’ll never make everyone happy but eventually, you’ll make yourself out in the best light you can.
Listing Everything vs. Listing the Main Things
If you record everything, you are telling someone every job you have had. If you register the highlights, you are eliminating the unhelpful job experience and reducing the clutter. Eliminating past jobs from your Linkedin is something you should only do if you know you won’t need it for a select few reasons. One significant reason for tossing a job off of your page is how long ago it was. On many Linkedin pages I have worked on, we throw “entry-level jobs” that are twenty or thirty years old. It’s not that these jobs aren’t useful or that the CEO didn’t learn anything from them. Instead, it’s because these jobs detract from the more recent experience as a CEO!
Another reason you might decide to get rid of something is if it doesn’t go with the image you are portraying. On my Linkedin page, I don’t list three of my past jobs. Again, it’s not because I didn’t learn anything from them. It’s because two months as a server, five as a childcare provider, and a year and a half as a tutor don’t help in the narrative that I tell with my page. On the other hand, you might want to keep everything.
Keeping everything is often done when you need experience. For example, I worked on a Linkedin page for a Senior in college recently. Though they have an impressive education and their current job is great, they don’t have much else in terms of history. We included two of the three past posts they have had, angeling them towards his current field using the description.
While your resume might tell your story in bullet points, your Linkedin page does not have to do that. Should it work better for you, you can write a story of sorts about your work experience. You should still make sure to list the significant things you took care of using the right tense and as many numbers and facts as you can. Be sure to link to any work that you can or add some to the portfolio option!
Though there are people that might list what they were doing during a hole in their work experience, you don’t have to do this. It’s all about how you portray that time during the interview. If you were furthering your education, this is visible from your education section. If you had a child and took time off, don’t worry! The world is becoming more accepting of work experience breaks than ever before. My page shows gaps between each of the jobs that I have had!
When you fill out your education, make sure to include anything important. You should list your school, its location, your degree, any focus or minors, extracurricular activities, and your GPA of it is good. This update can be less critical for someone who hasn’t been in college for a few decades. However, those fresh out of college need every bit of boost they can in our competitive job market!
4. Volunteer Experience
If you don’t have much in the way of paid experience, this is your place to shine. It’s also a great section to show that you give back to the community and do you extra part on the weekends. It should be treated in the same way that your job experience was. Don’t worry about gaps and make sure to write facts and numbers into your descriptions. If you haven’t done any volunteer work, you should think about getting out there and working with your favorite cause!
5. Skills & Endorsements
It’s always a good idea to list the programs and skills you accel in. Tailor and vary these skills based on your industry. For example, if you know photography but you are a math teacher, photography might not be an essential skill to list. Both hard and soft skills are excellent to have listed in this section. Also, it’s necessary to get these skills endorsed by your network. Obtain endorsements by asking through message or in-person to the people that are linked with you. Having endorsements on your skills lets potential employers know that you understand what you say you do.
Accomplishments should be things that you have worked hard to achieve! This, to me, is a very underrated section of Linkedin. When I look here, I expect to see continued learning, big wins, and other considerable factors in your past. Though I only have three sections myself, Linkedin gives the option of 9 different types of accomplishments!
- Honor and Award
- Test Score
Use each of these sections to show what you have done and what you continue to do to learn and grow!
The interests section is where it shows who and what you are interested in. Though not vital or required, it’s something that can show you are staying in touch with the industry you are working in. Following the top people in your industry, your college, and your work are all great ways to start. After you follow these people, interacting with them and sharing your work or thoughts on Linkedin will get one more step into having a well thought out and completed page.
Though this section might not be as visible, it is by far the most important when looking to get found. Completing the rest of your LinkedIn profile is a great way to make sure that people you give your profile to are happy. Optimizing the summary is the best way to make sure people will come to you. This summary should be a story of who you are as a professional. It can take place as a timeline or by the business. In my case, I talk about my primary business and follow up with my hobby website.
Be sure to include relevant keywords. As a marketing and writing person, including SEO optimization, digital marketing, and content creation in the text ensured that I would show up in the results of a search. If you are looking for a job, this section can help someone scout you before you find them. Through optimizing my summary, I have gone from never showing up in the search results to showing up in 17 search results just this month!
9. Cover Photo
Having a cover photo can take you that small step above the rest. You should try to have a cover photo that represents your industry and business. Don’t use the same cover photo you would for a personal Facebook page! You have the option to create a custom cover photo with websites like Canva or use one from a pre-made site. It’s better to use your own photo, though that might now always be available. If you are in construction, a completed project you worked on would be great. If you are in public speaking, a photo of you on stage talking would show what you are about right away.
10. The Introduction
After spiffing up or creating the rest of your LinkedIn page, it’s time to update the information section. Updating this information shouldn’t take long. Make sure your legal name is visible first. Next, take the time to craft a headline. This headline can be your current position, what you do in a sentence, or the college you attend. Next, make sure you have selected the proper job for the “current job” tile. Finally, make sure your location and the contact information you display is correct and up to date.
You should always keep an eye on your Linkedin page to make sure it’s the best it can be. Keeping it updated will not only save you time if you ever do decide to job search but also increase the chances that someone finds you with a great idea or opportunity. If you need help updating your LinkedIn, it’s a service I have offered to CEOs and executives across the county. I’d be happy to work with you to perfect your page as well!