My LinkedIn Makeover: The Basics

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You’re not really sure whether social media is going to help land you a job, but you put up a resumé on LinkedIn, just in case it did.

For those of you who have created a profile and barely thought about it twice, I doubt it has helped your employment search much.

Before you proclaim, “Social networking websites never helped me find a job!” I bring to you my LinkedIn makeover.

With a few well thought out changes, your profile will represent a whole new hire-able you.

Picture perfect

Did you put up a picture of yourself that you liked from Facebook and just cropped out your friends? It’s probably time to go with a straight on head shot of you smiling that was not taken by your own arm.

Ask a friend for help. Do not leave your picture blank or post a picture that doesn’t even remotely resemble you anymore. People will wonder what you’re trying to hide (aside from your face).

Take the time and effort to get a great head shot. You can use it on all your social media platforms to build your personal brand by making is easy for people to recognize you.

Professional headline rehab

The professional headline, or a branding statement, is tough to come up with. So difficult, in fact, most people just leave it as their current position.

It needs to be short and snappy, but descriptive and keyword rich. Consider it a longer version of a resumé objective: What main skills do you bring to the table and what can you accomplish with them?

Be specific (i.e., don’t just put “consultant” … consultant of what?). It’s difficult to create a professional headline when you’re still in school or unemployed, but think about the bulk of your work, where you want to be, and write “aspiring” in front of it if you have to.

If you do have a couple of years under your belt in a certain profession, put that in there as well. Be honest, but brag a little.

Since mine still said “student,” I thought long and hard before I came up with “Creative Communicator,” and listed some of the areas I have experience in. Now people know clearly what my skills are and what I want to do.

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Tighten up your summary and specialties

Read over your summary and make sure it isn’t generic. It needs to be dynamic and keyword rich so that when people first scan your profile they will actually want to read on.

My new summary includes a pitch of my best soft skills, some past accomplishments and future goals.

Do not write a novel here. A personal brand is about being really good at a few things and selling it. No one will ever believe you are an expert at promotions, accounting, balloon animals, snake charming, home staging and extreme motocross.

For the longest time I didn’t have this section of my profile filled out. Specialties? I’m a recent grad with not much more than summer job experience. What can I put down as a specialty?

Consider the industry you want to be in, look up other people’s profiles for ideas, and honestly pick specific hard and technical skills that you feel you have enough experience in to be considered more than a novice.

Since I’ve only used Flash once in high school, it was time to cut that out.

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Highlight your experience the right way

Aside from actually keeping this up to date, make sure your job descriptions focus on keywords, action verbs and quantifiable accomplishments where possible (e.g., managed team of 20, increased sales 13%, etc).

Avoid the phrase “responsible for.” Use three to five bullet points here to keep things clear and concise. Any advice you receive about resumé writing can apply to this section.

Stay tuned for the second instalment of Jillian’s LinkedIn Makeover where she adds the final touches to her profile.

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