With 150 million members, LinkedIn is more than just Facebook for grown-ups. 85 of the current Fortune 100 are using it as a tool for recruiting top talent. Procrastinating on getting started on the network or letting your profile get out of date doesn’t give you a hall pass–your prospective clients and employers are searching for you, and if they can’t find you, it could raise red flags. For professionals, businesses, students, and job searchers, LinkedIn is no longer optional. We’ve streamlined the process of getting started dominating the network and writing a profile that rises to the top of major search engines:
1. Claim Your URL
Even some avid LinkedIn users don’t know that you can claim a personalized URL. Just head to Profile Settings, where you can manage and establish your spot on the network as http://www.linkedin.com/in/yourname. If your full name isn’t available, consider matching your LinkedIn with your Twitter handle.
2. Create a Powerful Headline
“Marketing Manager at X Company?” Yawn. I bet you can do better than that. Try summarizing everything you do into a single sentence, rich with industry keywords, to maximize both impact and the chances you’ll appear in search:
Additionally, there’s no better place than your header to stand out. Says Crowdsourcing Expert Isra Garcia, “There are already too many experts in social media…marketing directors. If you’re doing what everyone else does, in what way are you standing out for me?” Are you way better than anyone else at creating viral hashtags? Well, say so.
3. Collect Endorsements
You can never have too many skills listed, or too many people verifying that you know what you are talking about. Don’t hesitate to ask current colleagues to give you a thumbs-up–the single-click nature of endorsements is a lot more minor of a time commitment than writing out a recommendation.
As an aside, while I’ve never heard of anyone losing out on landing a job due to questionable endorsements, it could look quite fishy if you have highly specialized skills that were endorsed by someone in an entirely different industry.
4. Add Your Skills in Order of Importance
It pays to add skills to your LinkedIn profile strategically. A little-known fact is that the skills listed first will rise to the top of the list. You’re more likely to receive endorsements on top-listed skills, and you’re more likely to receive endorsements on skills that are already listed. Don’t make the mistake of listing “Typing” or “Microsoft Office” before “Inbound Marketing Analytics,” or you could run the risk of having your most valuable talents buried.
5. Specify Skills and Expertise
Social media. Blogging. eBooks. Hey, I have those skills, too! What else can you bring to a new job? Are you an unusually personable manager? Do you have laser-sharp focus or really impressive time management? Don’t just limit your skills to the bare bones of your position description. This section should be an accurate snapshot of how you function on a work team.
6. Include a Profile Picture
It doesn’t need to be an expensive professional headshot, but you should include a work-friendly image that’s serious enough to show your potential boss.
7. List Websites
Fill out every website you contribute to significantly or on a regular basis. There’s room for your current employer’s website, your about.me page and your personal blog, as well as room for your active social media profiles.
8. Write a Vibrant Summary
Your summary is where you should describe who you were, who you are, and who you want to be. List major accomplishments, goals, and plenty of metrics. While we’re not suggesting you keyword stuff, don’t hesitate to include plenty of reader-friendly jargon about your skills and industry for Google and Bing to find and index.
9. Include a Descriptive Job Title
Include more information on your current and prior positions than a job title, company and dates of employment. What are the company’s mission and goals, and how did you fit into the bigger picture?
10. Capitalize on Your Interests
Snow-shoeing and boogie boarding are great, but interests are another place on your LinkedIn profile where you can use keywords. Did you write lots of blog content on how to use hashtags on Twitter in a prior job, even though it’s not part of your current job description? Spell it out here! Your interests are the perfect place to really drive home keywords relevant to your professional interests.
11. Review and Edit
Continually revise and update your LinkedIn profile to ensure it’s the best possible snapshot of who you were, are, and want to be. Garcia recommends you spend 10 minutes each week re-reading and editing your profile.
Image Credit: Social Quick Starter