By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS,CCMC,CJSS,CSMCS
LinkedIn is a great tool for find a new job if you use it correctly.

LinkedIn Contacts

It’s not enough to have a LinkedIn profile.

Every professional has one. And people are pretty good about keeping their profiles professional and updated, which means that you’ll have to go beyond their efforts to stand out.

If you’re struggling to create a LinkedIn profile that will set you apart from the competition, I have a process for you to follow.

Here are the steps I’ve provided to other executives to help them make the most of their LinkedIn profile.

Step 1: Make your summary meaningful

These days, busy recruiters and potential colleagues see dozens of LinkedIn profiles every day. Use your summary space as a place to write a meaningful paragraph that will immediately connect with people.

With our limited attention spans and endless to-do lists, recruiters and those looking to network with you need a quick way to get to know you, your experience, and your goals. Providing a two to three sentence summary can do just that.

In your summary, focus on the qualities and skills that make you stand out.

What truly drives you?

Where have you seen the greatest success in your career?

Focus on these critical questions to make sure you have an immediate impact on those who take the time to read your profile.

Step 2: Add the right keywords

One of the ways potential recruiters and employers will find you on LinkedIn is by searching for specific skills. By thinking about which keywords people will be looking for, you can infuse your profile with the terms that will get you noticed quickly.

Think about each of your roles – past and present – and make a list of key tasks within those roles. Then, pull out specific, action-oriented keywords that communicate how you had an impact in that role.

And think broadly about skill areas, too – if you’ve spent time working on your organization’s social media presence, think about all the ways someone might look for that experience: by searching for “social media,” “social networking,” “online marketing,” or others.

Step 3: Take your photo seriously

Leave your pet photos and family portraits for Facebook.

Connections on LinkedIn want to meet you – the professional you. If you can swing it, invest in a professional headshot – you’ll be able to use it long after your LinkedIn profile has worked for you.

Having a professional, put-together photo shows that you’ve put thought into even the littlest details of your presence online. More importantly, it portrays the version of you that’s most valuable and employable for those looking to connect with you.

Step 4: Take advantage of multimedia

LinkedIn has amazing features that allow you to share images, work samples, links, and articles that show the best moments from your career.

Did you write an op-ed for an industry publication?

Include it in the files on your profile.

Did you write a presentation about industry trends (and check with your employer to be sure it’s safe to share publicly)?

Add a slideshow – or better yet, a video of you presenting it. These add a dynamic dimension to your LinkedIn profile that will set you apart from the pack.

Step 5: Network, network, network

Most people make the mistake of thinking that networking on LinkedIn amounts to connecting with the people they already know from current or previous jobs.

But networking on LinkedIn can be so much more. LinkedIn’s Groups feature allows you to be a part of groups that are relevant to your position or industry, opening you up to connecting with more people through your shared interests.

In addition, you can follow specific companies or thought leaders that share your interests or relate to your work. This shows that you’re invested in following the latest news and trends across your category.

Final Thoughts

LinkedIn can be a powerful tool for your personal brand when you take the time to create a profile that really highlights the best parts of you, your experience, and what you have to offer.

These steps will get you started, and soon you’ll be connecting and networking your way into new opportunities!

If you have questions about your job search, contact me at 203-323-9977 or [email protected].