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7 Ways to Look Better on LinkedIn

Soon-to-be Grad or Not, It’s Time to Update Your Profile

By Carrie Handwerker

LinkedIn illustration

Illustration by iStock

Rachel Loock, a career and leadership coach at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, has seven tips to improve your LinkedIn profile.

Quick: Name something that might be even more important than your resume when you’re navigating the job market.

If you said “LinkedIn,” you’re right, said Rachel Loock, a career and leadership coach at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. That remains true even if you’re not actively job-hunting.

“It’s often the first impression people have of you professionally,” Loock said.

The networking platform has more than 260 million monthly active users, with roughly 40% logging in every day. It’s heavily populated with recruiters, peers, customers, potential clients and other professional contacts. And that’s why Loock advised always keeping your profile up-to-date and relevant.

Whether or not you’re in active job-search mode, she said, LinkedIn can help you build a network and connect with others sharing professional interests. A well-maintained profile not only helps you find jobs, it’s like an open door for recruiters and career opportunities to find you.

“You may be perfectly happy in your job, but find a recruiter reaching out to you because they saw what you’ve done and because you look very competitive for a new opportunity,” she said.

Loock offered the following tips to make your LinkedIn page shine as brightly as you do:

1. Lead with a strong profile, not a resume.
Your profile summary should encapsulate your work experience and tell the story of you—areas of expertise, notable successes, goals and passions—without dragging on. Below the summary, list your biggest accomplishments under each role you’ve had. “Your actual resume will be more complete, but I don’t recommend posting that on LinkedIn,” Loock said.

2. Sell your skills.
Play up all your most relevant professional abilities, especially if you’re looking for a new position. Make sure they’re in tune with those most in demand for your target job types. Cover specific hard skills—mastery of specific programs or required education and training—as well as the necessary soft skills needed to be an effective manager or valuable team player.

3. Don’t overlook your photo.
Don’t expect to get by with a cropped wedding photo or a decade-old snapshot, Loock warned. A recent professional-looking headshot is an important part of your profile. If you need to stage your own photo shoot, dress appropriately and choose a neutral background with good light. (No backlighting!) Use a tripod and timer, or have a friend snap a high-resolution headshot with your phone.

4. Snag opportunities for connections.
Include the specifics of your education, like when and where you earned your degrees, because fellow alums can be great resources for new positions or connections. Include continuing education and professional organizations. And be sure to specify your location to take advantage of networking opportunities with others in the same region.

5. Include extras.
Recommendations and endorsements add value to your LinkedIn profile. Ask a trusted colleague, clients, customers or a mentor to write a short testimonial that showcases your professional competence and your skills in action.

6. Keep it professional.
LinkedIn isn’t Facebook, Instagram or a dating site, so don’t post personal information. Details about your relationships, family, health and politics are off-limits.

7. Think beyond LinkedIn.
Sure, you’ve heard it before, but keep all your social media profiles looking presentable, said Loock—doubly so when you’re job searching. Employers increasingly scrutinize the Twitter accounts of prospective hires, and if they happen to know one of your friends or followers, they could also come across your Facebook or Instagram posts, even if your settings are private. “Just stay away from anything offensive or controversial,” Loock said.



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