Make the Jump: Beginner to All-Star

More and more people are getting jobs on LinkedIn and more and more employers are using LinkedIn as a recruitment tool. Yet, there’s all this buzz about how you can’t just copy and paste your resume onto LinkedIn and expect people to take notice. You have to differentiate yourself.

LinkedIn has a meter that determines your profile strength. The different levels include: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, Expert and All-Star. This is a simple tool but it’s actually a great indicator of how well you’re differentiating yourself. A Beginner profile is basically a mirror image of your resume. So, how do you make the jump from Beginner to All-Star?

Well, I don’t know the exact formula that LinkedIn uses to determine your profile strength but basically, the more content you add, the higher your profile strength. So, the real question is what do you need to add to your profile?

The slide deck above gives you a great overview of how to develop your LinkedIn profile but the key to an All-Star profile is completing as many of the fields/sections as you can. Below are some of my high-ticket items that have helped people gain visibility to their All-Star profiles.

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words
This seems so simple and basic but it’s the one thing that most people I’ve worked with miss on their LinkedIn profiles. It doesn’t matter how much experience you have or that the rest of your profile is rockstar status. Without a professional picture, your profile is less visible.

A profile picture shows that you’re thorough and confident. What you really want it to show though is that you’re a professional. LinkedIn is not Facebook. It’s not for your friends; it’s for your professional network. Here are some simple reminders for a good LinkedIn profile picture:

  • It should be of you, and only you. You don’t want to confuse anyone. It’s you’re profile so make sure that’s clear.
  • It should have a clean background. Again, the idea is to exemplify professionalism. Your picture should not be you at a bar or in your living room.
  • It should be a picture taken specifically for your LinkedIn profile. Here’s what I’m trying to help you avoid: pictures of you with a random arm on your shoulders. Don’t crop people out of your pictures. If you have to do this, you need to take a new picture of just you.
  • Dress appropriately. Your future employers don’t want to see you in your pajamas or in your bar/club clothes.
  • If you don’t know how to get the best professional picture, have a professional take one for you. It’s not that expensive and it’s worth every penny.
  • Change it up. Take and post a new profile picture every once in a while. Not only does that keep your profile updated, but it draws attention to it and gives you more visibility because changes to your profile show up in your connections’ newsfeed.

A Creative Headline and Summary Leave People Wanting More
The headline and summary are very important. Just filling in the fields is enough to fulfill the requirement but gaining visibility to your profile requires a little more creativity.

A headline should not just be your current job title. It should be about who you are and what you have to offer others. It’s like the headline of newspaper articles. It must catch the reader’s attention if you want them to continue reading the article, or in this case, your profile.

Similarly, a summary should not just be the objective from your resume. It should be an introduction to your story – a teaser that keeps people wanting more.

Experience Is More Than A Job Title
You were a rocket scientist for 10 years? Sorry, that doesn’t impress me. However, if you told me that while you were a rocket scientist, you designed and tested modifications for 10 different aircrafts, I’d be interested in meeting with you.

The point? Don’t just list the different job titles you’ve held and the companies you’ve worked for in the past. Add details and descriptions. In fact, LinkedIn now allows you to add links and media so you can showcase any projects you’ve completed.

It Matters What You Spend Your Personal Time Doing
Don’t skip the Volunteer Experience & Causes section because you don’t think it’s important. Social responsibility is becoming a huge part of most company cultures. Understanding the causes that are important to you and how you have contributed to the greater good helps an employer get to know you better.

Continuing Education Doesn’t Have to Mean Going to Grad School
Employers appreciate people who are willing to learn new things and better themselves but they also understand that going back to school for a degree can be extremely expensive. Some great ways to show that you continue learning include adding your certifications and memberships on your LinkedIn profile. Memberships to professional organizations related to your area of work also show that you value your professional network and community.

Action Speaks Louder Than Words
My apologies for the cliche but it’s true. Highlight the projects you’ve completed in the Projects section to show that you don’t just say you’re good at things but that you actually are good at them. This is a great way to prove your worth. LInkedIn even allows you to add connections who worked on projects with you.

You Can’t Build A Network Without Connections
LinkedIn has a minimum requirement in order to gain All-Star status. I believe that you have to reach 50 connections. The reason for this is that you really can’t build a network if you have no connections and one of the the purposes of LinkedIn is to network. Don’t just focus on the numbers though. Focus on valuable connections.

Here are some things to note about connections:

  • Connect with your peers from current and past employers and professional contacts you meet at conferences or other networking events.
  • Connections should not be a collection of your Facebook friends. They should be people who can bring value to you professionally and vice versa.
  • If you’re sending a request to connect with someone you met at a networking event, include a personalized message. If you don’t know someone well enough, you want to make sure that they know who you are and why you’re trying to connect.
  • Understand the difference between your connections on each social media platform. Know what you want to use each platform for and align your connections/network/following with your goal.

Choose Quality Over Quantity for Endorsements and Recommendations

LinkedIn now allows you to post skills to your profile and get endorsements for them. While this is a convenient way of recommending people, it can often lose its value if people are endorsing you for skills that are irrelevant to your area of work. Make sure you are posting the most relevant skills on your profile.

Endorsements give a great overview of someone’s strongest skills but recommendations are still extremely meaningful. Ask for LinkedIn recommendations for your work from bosses, coworkers and clients. Recommendations are the Yelp for recruiters. They give recruiters and hiring managers a personal insight to what it’s like to work with you. You don’t need an overwhelming amount of recommendations but make sure you get meaningful ones to post on your profile.

This is not an exhaustive list but it is a strong starting point to get you to an All-Star profile status that attracts recruiters, hiring managers, clients and other professionals. What else have you done to improve your LinkedIn profile? Please share in the comments below.

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2 thoughts on “Make the Jump: Beginner to All-Star

  1. Pingback: Wake up and smell the talent Part 2: Build social capital on LinkedIn | OD Advocate

  2. Pingback: Are you really ON LinkedIn? | OD Advocate

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