10 Ingredients of an Excellent LinkedIn Profile

10 Ingredients of an Excellent LinkedIn ProfileWhat are the must-haves for a LinkedIn profile that enhances your image and helps you advance your job search and career?

I could write a book on getting the most out of LinkedIn, but you probably don’t have time to read it. For now, let’s just look at the top priorities.

Nail these, and you’ll stand out from most of the competition, whether you’re in job search, self-employed or simply serious about career management.

1. Proficient Writing.

The vast majority of us, even professional writers, make mistakes in grammar, capitalization, word usage and spelling. Unless you received all A’s in English, you will probably benefit from having your profile copyedited and/or proofread by a professional. You can find a skilled pro via Yelp or free-lancing sites (or by asking me) who will charge less than $20 to smooth out your profile. It’s worth it! Or hire a career coach who knows LinkedIn inside and out, to go beyond simple editing to a truly well-written and well-strategized profile.

2. Keywords.

What are the crucial skills, areas of expertise and designations your employers or customers will be looking for? These words and phrases need to be used appropriately throughout your profile to make it relevant to both the human eye and keyword-based searches. Hint: The most important keyword is your desired job title.

3. Completeness.

It doesn’t need to be 100% complete, but your profile does need substantial Summary, Experience, Education and Skills sections, plus Certifications and Awards if relevant. Additional sections are a plus as long as they support your brand.

4. A Good Professional Headline.

This is just your title and company, right? Nope. This field is one of the most important for keywords as well as a first impression, so write a more branded headline than the one LinkedIn automatically generated.

5. A Good Photo.

The online world is very visual, and becoming more so all the time. A good photo builds trust and makes you more approachable and memorable. Hire a pro. Or have a friend take 20 shots in flattering lighting, then pick the best one.

6. Connections.

The more connections you have, the more chance you have getting introduced to insiders and referred into a job. Each new connection increases your odds of being at least a 3rd degree connection to any given recruiter, which makes it easier for her or him to access your profile and reach out to you. Plus, how does it look? If you’re in Sales, Marketing or Talent Management, your profile may look best with 500+ contacts. An engineer or administrative professional needs fewer, but I believe everyone should aim for at least 50-100 contacts.

7. Recommendations and Endorsements.

If an employer is interested in your resume, their next step – very often – is to look at your LinkedIn profile for more clues about you. They’re especially interested in recommendations people have written. Ask for recommendations from colleagues and managers. Endorsements are less impressive, but still important to make the profile look good and improve search rankings.

8. Optimization for Recruiter Searches (if you want to be found and contacted).

If you want to be contacted by recruiters, there’s a lot you can do to facilitate that. Do you know how your profile appears when searched for in LinkedIn Recruiter, how to get your profile near the top of the search results, and how to ensure recruiters will be able to read your profile and contact you? I recently learned some amazing profile creation techniques directly from a recruiter. Contact me for personalized, affordable help.

9. Contact Info.

Start by filling in “Contact Info,” but that may not be enough, because only your connections can see that. You may need to include an email address and/or phone number elsewhere in your profile. Tip: Don’t put it in your first name field, or you can be restricted from LinkedIn for violating the LinkedIn User Agreement.

10. Smart Settings.

At the very least, make sure you check the appropriate boxes in Privacy and Settings > Communications > Member Communications > Types of Messages You’re Willing to Receive. It’s fairly safe to check “Career Opportunities,” since it doesn’t appear in your profile (although there are ways a very snoopy employer could figure it out).

Of course, use care in implementing all of these suggestions. If you’re in stealth job search mode, consider professional coaching to ensure your use of LinkedIn and other social media is effective yet discreet. But to underutilize LinkedIn is to miss excellent opportunities that can help you get the job you want, faster.