LinkedIn is no longer an optional platform. If you like phrases like tipping point or critical mass, then let me assure you that use of LinkedIn by recruiters and employers blew beyond those thresholds a long time ago. And if you are actively interviewing for a position, expect that every interviewer will check out your LinkedIn profile.
Putting your best foot forward on LinkedIn is not time consuming, but you should do it thoughtfully and purposefully. Here are four key tips for getting it right.
1. The photo matters
Like it or not, your headshot is your first impression. Go with a simple business look, preferably with a smile included. You probably have an appropriate public relations shot on file. But if not, spending $200 on a professional photo is money well spent.
2. Don’t be picky
A robust number of LinkedIn connections is helpful. As your number of connections increases, so does your visibility with influencers and decision-makers. Moreover, you will be able to see and research more people. Decline invitations from total strangers. Otherwise, just click “yes” to invitations and don’t overthink them.
People who decline invitations do so mainly out of fear that new connections will ask for referrals to others in their network. Surprisingly few people actually do that, and you always have the option of politely declining.
3. Make endorsements
Similar to the “like” button on Facebook, it is now very easy to endorse people in your LinkedIn network without writing essay style recommendations. Stay honest in this endeavor, while being generous with your praise of others. Your connections will appreciate the kindness. And yes, many will reciprocate, so make sure you list at least three skills for which you could be endorsed.
4. First person your profile
Unlike my first three tips, this is not a conventional suggestion. You may even reject it. But I encourage you to think about your LinkedIn profile as an opportunity to add to your resume, not replicate it. Write a one to two paragraph narrative highlighting your core professional expertise and values. Writing in the first person “I” is powerful. You are allowing the reader to relate to you, while maintaining a professional message.
Regardless of the writing style you choose, make a real statement in the introductory section of your profile. Tell the world how you should be viewed. Just doing a cut and paste of your resume is lazy and a missed opportunity. Under the specific employer headings, you will have an opportunity to list accomplishments and awards. Those are the areas for resume-like material.