LinkedIn.com is one of the fastest growing social media sites in the Czech Republic, and indeed wherever you are based, it’s becoming a very useful resource for those looking to advance their career by looking for new opportunities or to network with other people in their area of expertise.
Today one of my own students asked if I could look at her profile on LinkedIn, and I thought I would present my feedback here. Although my comments are specifically written for her, please feel free to check your profile and see if the tips below apply to yours as well:
1. Check your settings
First up, you’ll need to consider the advantages and disadvantages of making your profile more public, and adjust your settings accordingly.
If you are currently working for another company, you might wish to be more discrete in how you present yourself on LinkedIn. Under ‘settings’ you can untick the option that let’s people know when you change your profile, make recommendations, or follow companies. This will mean your connections are less aware of your activity, and colleagues at your place of work who see your profile will not notice your increased activity.
If you are looking for new career opportunities, the more public the better. In addition, the more detailed your profile, the easier headhunters and potential employers will be able to find you. Therefore, under ‘settings’ make sure your profile is ‘public.’
Finally, I recommend separating your Tweets on Twitter.com from LinkedIn, unless you are sure that your Tweets match the tone and register of what you share on LinkedIn.
2. Choose an appropriate job title
I advise checking to ensure your job title accurately represents what you do and how you wish to promote yourself, and that potential recruiters will be able to know what you can offer.
As an example, my client has chosen ‘marketing professional’ as her job title. Personally I wonder how many potential headhunters will type in these keywords. Check with other professionals in your field and see if they suggest a better alternative, particularly if you wish to be found through a recruiter search.
I typed in some keywords for ‘marketing professional’ and some other options can be considered:
marketing specialist, marketing consultant, marketing executive, marketing manager, marketing analyst, marketing coordinator.
Furthermore, you can be more precise in describing your field: eg social media marketing specialist, strategic marketing consultant.
3. Decide on your keywords
To ensure you come up higher in searches, use your keywords throughout your profile. In my student’s case, this means ‘marketing’ would appear in her description of her present and past jobs (where appropriate). As well, she would add a few other keywords relevant to her ambitions (eg consultant, manager).
4. Add concise but detailed information for your present and previous positions
My student doesn’t yet have a description for her present job, so this is something which she can work on. Make sure your previous positions are described, showing viewers of your profile that you have a rich track record in your field.
I should also add that you’ll also need to decide which jobs to leave out – if you are now a 30 year old director of a start up, you don’t need to mention that summer job you had cleaning your neighbour’s swimming pool while you were at high school.
Another thing to consider is whether your job at one company can be divided into any sub-positions. In my case, when I was at my previous company as an English teacher, I was also the Prague teacher in charge of their global English teaching materials bank, and I sub-edited their cultural magazine. In addition to being an examiner for Cambridge, this is already 4 different positions at the same company. What about you?
5. Check how the PDF version of your profile looks
Your LinkedIn profile can be saved as a PDF by potential employers. I recommend downloading your PDF, printing it out, and checking that it looks well presented.
In particular, if you use accented characters (eg the Czech ‘ř’ or ‘č’), the PDF version may not accept them. Instead, there may be ‘blank spots.’ Therefore ask yourself if these characters are necessary.
6. Ask for recommendations
LinkedIn allows you to request a recommendation from people who you’ve worked or studied with in the past. I fully recommend that you ask around for these, as they help create a picture of who you are, and give you a big dose of social proof.
7. Check your spelling
I’ve seen a number of profiles on LinkedIn from professionals who don’t use the correct spelling of basic business words. Just like if you have a mistake in your CV or application letter, spelling mistakes on LinkedIn make you look sloppy and less professional. So double-check your spelling and ask a friend proficient in English to check your profile for you.
Bonus tip – check that your qualifications are ‘translated’ into English for an international audience
My student has ‘Mgr’ as her university title. However if her profile is being read by someone not familiar with the Czech education system, they will not know what this means. Therefore try to ensure that your universities qualifications include a translation in international English.
Entire books have been written on how to improve your LinkedIn profile, so this is just a start. Just like writing your résumé, you’re not going to have ‘the perfect profile’ after one day. It takes time and thought, something which you should always come back to and improve upon. I hope you’ll take the above tips into consideration.
Homework for my students
Feel free to set up and improve your own LinkedIn profile, and I’ll be happy to help you out. And after writing this post, I realise I also need to do some homework this weekend 😉
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D. I. says
“you might wish to be more discrete”
I think you might mean “discreet.”
David Sweetnam says
Ah, the ol’ discrete v. discreet. Surprised I mixed them up but thanks:
discreet: “careful about what you say or do, so that you do not offend, upset, or embarrass people or tell secrets [≠ indiscreet]:”