At this point in the digital age, we should all be aware that there are certain things best kept away from social media. Questionable content could hurt you professionally, but what kind of content will help you stand out in a positive way?
As we should all know by now, recruiters, colleagues, supervisors and contemporaries are Googling, Facebooking and Tweeting to find you. In fact, according to a recent survey by the social media monitoring service Reppler, over 90% of recruiters use social media outlets to screen candidates. Nearly 70% have actually hired candidates based on their social media presence, and by far the most popular service among recruiters is (you guessed it) LinkedIn.
To help you shine online, here are a few tips to upgrading your LinkedIn profile.
1. Show, Don’t Tell
A few years back, LinkedIn released its list of the 10 most overused profile keywords. They are: analytical, responsible, effective, creative, strategic, patient, expert, organizational, driven and innovative.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with these terms. But with millions of profiles claiming to be “creative,” yours could get lost in the sauce. “Set yourself apart by describing and linking to projects you’ve worked on that truly were different, unique and compelling,” says LinkedIn’s Career Expert Nicole Williams. “Pointing to concrete examples of the creative work you’ve done is more convincing than simply stating you are a ‘creative’ professional.”
2. Trick Out Your Profile
Your LinkedIn profile isn’t just a résumé; you can provide so much more than just a work history, skills and awards. You can—and should—take advantage of its other digital features to enhance your presence. For example, you can request that individuals in your professional network endorse your expertise, presenting a pretty convincing case that you know your stuff. Focus first on listing in-demand, industry-specific goals. (Perhaps you’ve been trained in new technology or have studied a specific concept in your field.)
3. Make Heads Turn
Your photo is the ultimate draw and typically the first feature most will see (besides your name). In fact, “People with photos are seven times more likely to have their profiles viewed,” according to Williams. “Having a more polished image will not only make you visible, but it also lets employers know that you are serious about representing their company in the most professional way.” You may want to consider paying for a professional headshot, but no matter what, just make sure to post a picture that reflects the standards of your industry.
4. Match Your Profile to the Job You Want
In all, the researchers at Reppler found that the number one “it” factor employers seek when searching social media profiles is that a candidate presents a “positive impression of their personality and organizational fit.” To be certain you’re exuding hireability and professionalism, you should perform a search of leading professionals in your industry. Model your profile on theirs, making sure to highlight your unique character.
5. Turn Heads With a Headline
One of the most overlooked yet important areas of a well-built profile is the headline, says Joshua Waldman, author of Job Searching With Social Media for Dummies. Instead of letting LinkedIn use your most recent professional title as your default headline, he suggests identifying the job you want in yours. Aside from outlining your career goals, it will also attract recruiters looking for just that.
6. Get Search Engine Optimized
That brings us to the next tip: optimizing your profile with words and phrases that will help recruiters find you. LinkedIn, like Google, has extensive search features that depend mostly on keywords on pages throughout the site. That means if someone (a recruiter or prospective employer) isn’t connected to you, they’re most likely to find your page based on the keywords you add to it.
As a journalist who often seeks out credible experts, I can attest to the importance of an online profile that clearly articulates exactly who you are. For example, if you want your next position to be a senior marketing executive with, say, Coca-Cola, it would be beneficial to include keywords like “brand,” “marketing,” “senior” and “Atlanta” (where Coke is headquartered). And the good news is, you don’t even have to necessarily work them into your profile. LinkedIn lets you add keywords in special sections for skills, expertise and interest.
7. Show Off Your Work
Finally, LinkedIn’s newest and perhaps best feature is its “portfolios.” The site has adjusted for our project-based workforce to allow users to upload samples of their work. Are you a marketer who’s especially proud of an ad you designed? Now you can include a sample document, image or link under a description of the project. This is especially important when it comes to showing a potential hirer exactly what you’re able to do beyond a few buzzwords.
Donovan X. Ramsey is not a personal finance expert. He’s a multimedia journalist who writes about all things social, political, cultural and whimsical. After college, Donovan set out to discover everything he didn’t know about the world of personal finance. Learn along with him weekly on EBONY.com as he explores more everyday money matters. Follow Donovan on Twitter @iDXR or at DonovanXRamsey.com.