7 Things You Need to Do for a Strong LinkedIn Profile

By Melissa Duko, January 03, 2018

With 467 million members, LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional networking platform. Yet, some individuals still think they don’t need a LinkedIn profile.

Wrong.

For potential employers, clients, and networking connections, a LinkedIn profile acts as a digital footprint. It proves that you, the professional, exists. More importantly, it helps differentiate you from others with the same name.

My name is unique, but I’m not the only Melissa Duko. If you Google me, you’ll see my published work. And you’ll also see my second cousin (who is decades younger), posting about One Direction and school happenings.

Now if a potential employer or client saw the results for teenage Melissa, wouldn’t they be confused? Or worse yet, what if she posted something defamatory? Her actions could hurt my professional credibility.

Sure, I could add my middle name (Elizabeth) to help differentiate. But I’m a writer with articles dating back to 2002, longer than Melissa 2.0 has been alive. Changing my name would seriously hurt my SEO. And what about others out there who have more common names like John Smith?

You can’t control others having your name, but you can set yourself apart and control your professional image with a LinkedIn profile. Here are seven things you need to do for a strong, professional profile.

1. Craft a Well-Rounded Summary

Your summary serves as a quick “all about me” for potential recruiters and networking connections. Most don’t read your hard copy resume, so the likelihood of them reading your entire LinkedIn profile is slim, too. Having a strong summary is critical.

Related Post: How to Hire Great People

Keep your summary concise but informative, no more than four paragraphs plus contact information. Think cover letter style. Your summary should feature your:

Current Position. Start off with your current position/title, employer, plus a brief description of your job responsibilities. If the viewer reads nothing else, at least they’ll know your title and skill set.

Melissa Summary Example.png

Source: LinkedIn

Personal Background. Give a little insight into how you got into your current field. It’ll help build a deeper connection with the reader.

Prior Experience. Briefly describe your prior work experience. Stick to positions relevant to your current industry (or the industry you want to break into). No need to mention moonlighting as a bartender if your day job is content marketer.

Education. List your degree(s) including where you earned them.

2. Include Only Relevant Experience

That’s great you were a server in college, but unless you’re still in the hospitality industry, remove it from your LinkedIn profile. Instead focus on experience relevant to your industry. Always start with most recent employment first.

Be sure to include:

  • Job Title.
  • Company Name.
  • Start date and End Date. (Use present if still employed.)
  • Brief Description of Duties.

When writing about your current position always use active voice. For example, edits copy. If you’re including a previous position, switch the tense to past (e.g. edited copy).

3. Fill Out Education  

You worked hard for those degrees, so here’s your chance to show them off.

College. Include the name of the college or university along with the type of degree, concentration, and minor (if any). Feel free to mention your GPA along with any activities and societies, too.  

College LinkedIn Example.png

Source: LinkedIn

Trade School.  If you went to trade school, be sure to include the name of the school and trade you specialized in as well as any apprenticeships.

Trade School Example.png

Source: LinkedIn

Depending on how long ago you graduated, you can leave off graduation years. If an employer wants proof you actually earned your degree, they can always request unofficial transcripts, which include the graduation date.

By excluding age identifiers like graduation years, you can lessen immediate age discrimination. For this reason, many older professionals choose to forego including their high school graduation date on resumes and LinkedIn, too.

4. List Certifications

Did you take a HubSpot Certification course, or perhaps an Adobe InDesign class? Don’t forget to post it on your profile. Typically upon course completion, you’ll have the option to upload a badge to your LinkedIn Profile.

Certifications Example.png

Source: LinkedIn

Certifications are a great way to demonstrate you’re keeping up-to-date with industry technology and trends.

5. Join Groups and Follow Influencers 

Whether you’re looking to network or stay on top of industry news, joining groups and following influencers are a great way to do both.

Michelle Groups.png

Michelle Influencers.png

Source: LinkedIn

They’re also a quick way to give viewers glimpse into your outside interests as well. For example, perhaps you’re into style and follow Rachel Zoe or Gwyneth Paltrow, but your day job is technical writer. Should you decide to break into freelance style blogging, a recruiter will notice your influencers and see you are aware of fashion trends.

6. Feature Skills 

A job title only scratches the surface of what you do on a daily basis. Someone who is a Director of Marketing does much more than just marketing. Under the Skills section, you can feature your top skills plus other things you’d like network connections to know about.

Here, top skills include social media marketing, management, and lead generation. And Michelle also knows about personnel management, new business development, and digital media.

Michelle Skills.png

Source: LinkedIn

For individuals who want to commend Michelle on her skills, but maybe don’t have time to write a recommendation, they can easily press the ‘plus sign button’ to endorse any of the skills featured here. It’s a quick way to give kudos, and shows how many people trust and value her expertise.

7. Use a Current Photo

The outline of a person doesn’t cut it on LinkedIn. You’re not a faceless, Flat Stanley. Use a current photo that’s no more than two-years old.

brittany-leaning-headshot-2.jpg

Source: HubSpot

Photos older than two years don’t work for one simple reason: we all age. And some of us tend to change hair color and cuts frequently. Err on the side of caution and keep your photo up-to-date, so clients and colleagues will recognize you when meeting face-to-face.

Related Post: Say Cheese: 5 Best Practices for a Flawless LinkedIn Photo

Bonus Tip: Make Sure Your Grammar Is Correct

Great, you have a stellar LinkedIn Profile. Now go back and make sure your content is grammatically correct. There’s nothing worse than seeing a brilliant engineer who went to MIT use your instead of you’re. It’s a horrific grammar crime, which grammar sticklers will notice.

If grammar isn’t your forte, not a problem. Do yourself a favor and hire a freelance editor to look over your profile.

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Melissa Duko

Melissa Duko

Melissa Duko is the Senior Editor for Anura. She brings to her role more than a decade of journalism and editing experience. A graduate of the University of Delaware, she holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, concentration business and technical writing, minor Art History. She also has a Master of Science in professional writing for the public and private sector from Towson University. She isn’t afraid to admit that her love for Starbucks is at gold member status. (Since 2011!) More Articles by Melissa Duko