LinkedIn is widely considered the "place to be" for today's professionals. This is especially true for active job seekers, whose LinkedIn profiles often provide a first impression for hiring managers.
If you are advertising yourself to employers on LinkedIn, you know how important it is to have a fully fleshed-out profile. You want to make sure they know up front that you're passionate about your work, have extensive experience in the field and are driven to achieve your goals.
Sound familiar? While these terms may in fact accurately describe your career experience, they don't mean much when everyone else is using them, too. LinkedIn recently released its list of the 10 most globally overused profile buzzwords in the past year:
- Extensive experience
- Track record
Other trite words include "problem-solving," "dynamic" and "innovative," according to general U.S. LinkedIn profile data, and industry-specific buzzwords from professions like marketing and sales. [10 Ways to Make a Perfect LinkedIn Profile]
Catherine Fisher, author of the accompanying LinkedIn blog post and a LinkedIn career expert, said that these words are ineffective and underwhelming to employers because they're generic and vague. Instead, Fisher advised focusing on your accomplishments and using specific examples to highlight your talents.
So, what can you do to give your LinkedIn presence a makeover and catch hiring managers' attention? Fisher outlined a few suggestions for improving the major components of your profile.
Summary. Your summary is a great place to start showcasing your overall skill set. Instead of replacing the overused buzzwords with fancy, thesaurus-inspired equivalents, Fisher recommended illustrating how you're motivated, passionate, driven, etc. For example, how did your motivation ultimately drive business results? Has your motivation helped champion a program? You can upload examples of previous or current work to demonstrate this.
Profile photo. Fisher noted that your LinkedIn profile should reflect the professional image you want to portray. Just having a photo in the first place can improve your chances of getting hired: LinkedIn data shows that profiles with a photo are 14 times more likely to be viewed. A photo with a work-appropriate outfit, a focus on head and shoulders, and a confident smile is your best bet for your profile, Fisher said.
Headline. Because you can customize your headline to say anything you want, you have a real opportunity to give hiring managers a preview of what you can do. Write a strong headline that makes people want to learn more about you, Fisher said. For example, "Mary Smith: Solving complex technical problems through code" is much more unique and informative than, "Mary Smith: Software Engineer." And, Fisher said, if you're actively seeking a job, don't be afraid to say so in your headline.
Volunteer activity and causes. Want to show that you're motivated? Include your volunteer experience and any important causes you support, Fisher said. Filling out this section of your profile can also help you get hired. Forty-one percent of U.S. professionals surveyed by LinkedIn said that they consider volunteer work equally as valuable as paid work experience when evaluating candidates.
Skills. Your skills are a quick, easily digestible overview of your professional brand. They also make your profile 13 times more likely to be viewed. Fisher suggested including a mix of both broad and niche skills to ensure you show up in search results and show hiring managers your full range of talent.
Recommendations. Let others vouch for you by (politely) asking for LinkedIn recommendations. The best ones come from individuals who have worked with you and can provide specific examples of your skills and talents. Fisher said to gently remind them of the projects you worked on together as a jumping-off point.