Many of us have a LinkedIn profile, and there are many common LinkedIn profile-building questions that this article seeks to address. First off, when did you last update your profile? When did you add that MOOC course? – is your profile up to date or stagnant?
Networking is the primary way to go about looking for a new job. Spread your net far enough, and you will eventually catch something. LinkedIn is the premiere job networking social media site. It enables users to form “connections” with people they know. 89% of recruiters have found a new hire via LinkedIn. Learning how to grow you network on LinkedIn will provide you with an invaluable resource in your job search.
LinkedIn makes online networking simple and easy to manage. Send on an invite to a former colleague, and when they accept, the two of you share a 1st-degree connection. All your new connection’s 1st-degree connections become your 2nd degree connections, and so on.
Your primary goal is to have your name pop up in a recruiter’s search results. Because recruiters only see up to 3 degrees of separation, it is up to you to make your network as large as possible. Having a large network helps you to leverage your connections to find out what companies are hiring. To get introduced to potential employers, and to bolster your profile to attract job recruiters. Worried that you don’t have the knowledge or the experience needed to create a great profile? Here are common problems and some solution that you can use when seeking to expand your LinkedIn network and how to best leverage your new connections.
Common LinkedIn Profile-Building Questions –
1. Problem: I don’t know why LinkedIn says my profile is incomplete.
Look at your LinkedIn profile. On the upper right hand section of your profile page, you should see an infographic that details your profile strength. If it doesn’t say “All-Star,” than you have some work to you.
LinkedIn users with a complete profile are 40 times more likely to be offered new opportunities than those who do not. Yet, 50% of users have not bothered to complete their profile! Perhaps they believe their educational background is not impressive enough to display, or maybe they don’t feel a profile picture is a necessary addition. (Your profile is 11 times more likely to get viewed if you include a profile picture.)
There’s no secret to having a complete profile; LinkedIn takes you through the process step by step. Here is what LinkedIn considers to be a complete profile:
- Your industry and location
- An up-to-date current position (with a description)
- Two [or more] past positions
- Your education
- Your skills (at least 3)
- A profile photo
- At least 50 connections
Those members in secure employment may take a lackadaisical approach to their profile. It’s strongly recommended to always keep your LinkedIn profile complete and up-to-date, even when employed. Those seeking work should turn their attention toward making their LinkedIn profile stand out.
Job seekers should consider taking advantage of LinkedIn Premium. This is a paid for service which allows its users expanded search options. Additional insights are provided to help in their job search, more ways to connect with others, and important keyword suggestions. LinkedIn offers a one month trial of their Premium service for free.
Let’s break down the different parts of what LinkedIn considers to be a complete profile:
Your industry and location:
Remember, your LinkedIn article should be all about you, and not the company you are working for/ have previously worked for. Imagine you are a recruiter searching for someone like you to fill a position in a company. What words would you type in? Those are the words you want right under your name on your LinkedIn profile. Be as literal and specific as possible. Now is not the time to be creative with your words. If you’re an elementary school teacher, type in “elementary school teacher,” not “molder of young minds.”
An up-to-date current position:
What if you’re unemployed and don’t have a current position? Not a problem. Include your last employer, and don’t be afraid to state in your headline and summary that you are seeking work. “Elementary school teacher seeking employment” lets those in your network know you are looking for a job. Recruiters are drawn to people who are ready for immediate hire. Don’t forget to add a full description.
Two past positions:
Your previous work experience is a very important part of your profile. People get stuck here believing they have to plug in full-time career positions. Volunteer work, internships, and part-time positions work as well. Leverage past work experiences to show off your skills, your expertise, and your work ethic. Give special attention to this section of your profile. Recruiters will only consider you if you are able to highlight your skills, responsibilities and accomplishments.
Include any schools and colleges you have attended. Remember that you can also include certification courses, vocational schools… pretty much any institution where learning was the goal. Again, this section provides a way to make you stand out from the crowd. Add associations, clubs, awards, scholarships, and other educational distinctions.
LinkedIn allows you to list a lot of skills, but most people cull it down to fewer than ten. When choosing skills, think about whether or not your connections would feel comfortable endorsing you for that particular skill. Your top skills are the ones you should focus on. LinkedIn requires at least three skills for a complete profile.
A profile photo:
Choose a professional-looking head shot. Research says a friendly smile (with teeth!) attracts more views.
At least 50 connections:
There’s a reason this is listed at the end. You want to make sure your profile has as much information as possible before you start sending out invites to connect. The most important thing to remember when sending out invites is that you are not actively asking for a job, but rather building relationships to build your network. That means you need to be willing to help out your connections, whether it’s via an introduction, an endorsement, or a recommendation.
2. Problem: I’m not sure how to start forming connections.
Start with those closest to you: friends, former colleagues, former employers, people you went to school with. When you send an invite, a personal message is not required, but it does make you stand out. Let close friends know you are searching for work, and that any introductions they could make for you would be appreciated. Be careful adding people you do not know: LinkedIn will block users from sending invites if too many of their targets click “I do not know this person.” If you send an invite to a stranger, make sure you include a message that explains why you think the two of you should be connected. After you start adding connections, you will be surprised to see that people will start adding you. That’s the advantage of popping up as a 2nd connection in another user’s network.
3. Problem: I’m not sure what keywords I should add to my LinkedIn profile
You don’t need to do extensive research, and you don’t have to have a Ph.D. in SEO (search engine optimization) to make your LinkedIn profile easy to find. You just have to use common sense.
Recruiters use Boolean search to find people on LinkedIn. For instance, a recruiter looking for a database administrator who has a background in computer programming would type in the keywords database administrator AND computer programmer. Sprinkle keywords throughout your profile to attract recruiters. The best way to do this is to put yourself in their shoes. Make a list of search words you would use if you were hiring someone with your background and expertise. Of that list, you should do just a little research to make sure you are employing the most popular and common search phrases.
To make sure you are using the correct phrase, the popular job site indeed.com can help. Visit http://www.indeed.com/jobtrends, and type in your chosen keywords, separating them with a comma. The resulting graph will show you which keywords were used most often in job descriptions. For instance, you might type in “social media administrator” and “social media manager.” Today, “social media manager” is far trendier, and so should be the keyword you would want to include in your LinkedIn profile.
Recruiters search using keywords that target skills, job titles, necessary certifications, and other related terminology.
These keywords should be used throughout, but especially need to appear in your headline and in your summary, because that’s where LinkedIn looks first.
4. Problem: My summary is not interesting.
You might be thinking about it too much. When viewing your LinkedIn profile, people first see your name, then your headline, and then your summary. If your LinkedIn Profile were a resume, the summary would be your objective statement. Your summary is the all-important bridge to your experience and education. Without it, there’s a definite, visible gap in your profile.
The beauty of using LinkedIn is that you can target your prospective employers with specific keywords. When you wrote in your industry, or the headline under your name, you included a specific term that recruiters would use to find people to work in their field. The LinkedIn summary allows up to 2000 characters. You can use those characters to include other specific keywords that highlight your background and expertise.
Summaries should be engaging, punchy, and to-the-point. Think of your summary as a short compilation of your best assets, i.e. your “greatest hits.” You might include problems you have solved, projects you have completed, awards you have won, and goals you have reached.
Finally, remember to detail future goals, including employment aspirations, while sprinkling keywords throughout.
5. Problem: I’m afraid that joining groups on LinkedIn will be a big a waste of time.
Solution to Common LinkedIn Profile-Building Questions:
Knowing how to use groups to your advantage will make joining them a great use of your time. Joining LinkedIn groups is another way to expand your network. Many people don’t realize the immense benefits groups can provide users. Simply joining will give you perks, but you get the most out of groups by participating in them on a regular basis.
First, identify and then choose to join groups that are related to your field. Some groups are open for anyone to join, others need approval. Apply to join only groups for which you are eligible. Check out what groups current connections in your same field have joined. If you are following any experts/ leaders in your industry, see what groups they are members of. LinkedIn groups have many of benefits:
- All members within a group automatically become 2nd-degree connections.
- You can send group members in-mails even though you aren’t connected.
- Groups allow you to receive exclusive, insider information you might not be able to access anywhere else.
- Recruiters hang out in groups, looking for potential hires.
- You can easily interact and make new connections by participating in discussions.
- You can start your own discussion.
- You can submit your own blog posts and articles, provided they are relevant to the group.#
Like anywhere else on LinkedIn, there’s a fine balance between self-promotion and being of value. Follow the 20/80 rule (promote yourself or your brand 20% of the time, and share information 80% of the time), and you won’t annoy everyone on social media.
The more time you take part in a group via discussion or by sharing useful content, the more you will establish yourself as an expert in your field. Recruiters notice the people who are active and who seem to know what they’re talking about. Groups are a great way to develop a professional reputation and to catch the eye of people looking for your particular skills and knowledge.
6. Problem: I don’t know how to interact with others on LinkedIn.
Solution to Common LinkedIn Profile-Building Questions:
There are many ways to interact with others. The important thing is not to be an absent member of LinkedIn. Get involved. Congratulate connections on their accomplishments. Offer help whenever you can, and post quality content that will benefit your others (be careful to always add commentary as to WHY you are posting a link to particular content. Some groups do not like links). Participate in discussions, and answer questions when you have a chance.
LinkedIn will let you know when someone looks at your profile (only 100% on a premium package). If you see that a potential recruiter has looked you over, remember that she may have visited a lot of profiles in that same day. How do you set yourself apart from the rest? Send her a message. Let her know you appreciate her visiting your profile. Offer to answer any other questions she might have about you, and emphasize that you would look to connect in case you can help one another out in the future.
Paying attention to who viewed your profile can offer insight in the ways your profile is attracting (or not attracting) the right people. Take note of what geographical area your visitors are coming from. Whether they work in the same industry as you, and whether they appear to be looking for potential employers or are just checking out the competition.
Conclusion to Common LinkedIn Profile-Building Questions
Looking for a new job can be overwhelming, and learning to navigate LinkedIn can seem intimidating.
The listed problems and solutions can guide you to build a dynamic LinkedIn profile that attracts viewers and expands your network. After you have built a complete profile that has keywords relevant to your industry, maintain your LinkedIn presence by interacting with others on a daily basis. The more you put into LinkedIn, the more it will give back. And remember, it only takes one connection to land a job, so cast your net and see what you can pull in.
Other LinkedIn articles from Mike and the RapidBI Team
- LinkedIn it’s not just for job search #HRBlog 2016/03/14
- Can you trust a LinkedIn profile? Will recruiters trust yours?2016/03/01
- Value of LinkedIn Groups – Why do some professionals use them? #hrblog 2016/01/29
- Corporate values and behaviours – Dangers of not walking the talk #hrblog #linkedin 2016/01/12
- Purpose of LinkedIn – Ninja tips to raise your profile increasing prospects #hrblog
Originally posted Jun 30, 2015 Revised & updated May 2016