A LinkedIn expert’s response to the question, “Why do I need a LinkedIn profile?“
Q. WHY do I need a LinkedIn profile now?
A. If you’re in a job you love, you need a LinkedIn profile to look up-to-date, to bring value to your employer, and to plant the first seeds of know-like-and-trust so that prospective customers will warm to you and your company more quickly. Many people will encounter you on LinkedIn before meeting you in any other way, forming their first impression of you by viewing your LinkedIn profile.
If you are looking for your next career adventure, you need a LinkedIn profile because most recruiters (about 95% of them) use LinkedIn as a major sourcing tool to find candidates to present to their client companies who are seeking top-tier talent. Take note also that a 2017 Harris Poll conducted on behalf of CareerBuilder found that 70% of hiring managers use social media as a candidate screening tool and 57% of employers say that they are less likely to interview candidates who have no online presence.
Q. I’ve got all my positions and my education listed on my LinkedIn profile, so I’m good to go, right?
A. No. Whether you’re trying to make a great first impression or hoping to be found by recruiters, a skeletal profile won’t be sufficient to achieve your goal. To make a great impression, you need to convey your personal brand powerfully. Tell people what you want to be known for, and highlight your points of differentiation. LinkedIn gives you lots of opportunities to do this, providing not only generous character counts for each section of the profile but also the ability for you to attach rich media such as videos, photos and slides to your profile.
When you write about who you are as a professional in your headline (120 characters) and in your About section (2,000 characters – about three large paragraphs), or you share your accomplishments for each of your positions (2,000 characters for each job), you will naturally use your keywords often. This will help you to be found. LinkedIn is a search engine, so using your keywords often will help you be found for partnering with others, for Board nominations, for internal task forces, for succession planning, and for new opportunities beyond your current company.
Also, don’t forget to populate your Skills inventory with up to 50 skills. Some redundancy here is ok, because you don’t know exactly how someone will word their search. Be sure to select your three top skills to “pin” to the top of your list.
Q. I see that some people have more sections to their profile than others. Is that really necessary?
A. You can discover the additional sections under the “add profile section” button that appears near the top of your profile to the right of your photo. The best practice is to use any section that helps you tell your story more effectively, and gives you a greater chance to be found (because you’ve used your keywords more often). For example, listing the titles of courses you have taken either as part of your major area of study in a degree program or courses that your company has paid for you to attend likely increases the number of times your keywords appear. Writing about your volunteer activities helps others understand another part of you; depending on what you are doing in your volunteer activities you may or may not increase your keyword count by writing about these activities. If you have publications, patents, licenses/certifications, or language skills to highlight, you’ll find a section for conveying each. Are you a member of a professional organization? Listing it will likely add to your keyword count, too.
Q. So once I have gotten my LinkedIn profile in shape, I’m golden, right?
A. Ah, no…It’s fabulous when your profile represents you well, but don’t stop there. You should take the opportunity to use the LinkedIn platform to build community, nurture your relationships and establish your reputation as a thought leader. Being active on the LinkedIn platform can be educational and engaging. Both are great for your personal well-being and your career. Take advantage!
Q. This is so much to remember. Do you have any resources to suggest?
A. So glad you asked! My book LinkedIn for the Savvy Executive: Promote Your Brand with Authenticity, Tact and Power is a great strategy book for conveying your personal brand effectively via LinkedIn. It is available through online booksellers.
I invite you to visit my website and to connect with or follow me on LinkedIn. On LinkedIn, I publish a monthly article, a weekly #littlelinkedinlesson, and daily share pertinent articles and serve as a role model for gracious use of the LinkedIn platform.
Companies interested in having their employees represent themselves and the company well on LinkedIn can hire me to speak and consult. I am a member of the National Speakers Association. I also do one-on-one executive coaching and profile development for senior leaders.
*About the author:
Carol Kaemmerer is widely recognized as a personal branding and LinkedIn expert. Since 2013, she has been shining her branding brilliance not on products, but on PEOPLE, helping senior leaders express their personal brand authentically online via LinkedIn. She is a popular speaker, executive branding and LinkedIn coach, and author of the book LinkedIn for the Savvy Executive: Promote Your Brand with Authenticity, Tact and Power. Carol is a member of the National Speakers Association and serves on the Board of its Minnesota Chapter.