Spring is here, and you might be compelled to do the requisite spring cleaning. I know I'm eager to spruce up and organize my home office. Spring is a time for renewal, and based on the calls I've been getting for resume and LinkedIn help, that seems to extend to professional development or redevelopment.
It got me thinking. What would spring cleaning your LinkedIn profile look like? I came up with these eight top-to-bottom steps to polish your professional profile so that you get noticed by recruiters and potential managers, partners and other contacts who can help you get to where you want to be.
1. Customize your URL.
When I do LinkedIn makeovers, I start at the very top by customizing the client's URL. I remove all of the random numbers and letters that appear at the end of the profile link. Having just your first and last name in your link looks cleaner, which is nice if you are adding that link to your resume. If your first and last name have been taken, consider adding a middle initial, maiden name or professional title or certification, such as PhD or CPA. Get started by clicking the "Edit public profile & URL" link in the top right of your profile page.
2. Revisit your headline.
Take a fresh look at your headline. First, is it still accurate, or is it out of date because you've changed jobs? Next consider if you prefer a straightforward headline -- job title and company -- or what I call an aspirational one. Are you a business coach at Business Coaching Inc., or are you "Coaching entrepreneurs to achieve success?" I prefer the straightforward, and my informal survey of recruiters and hiring managers suggests that preference is shared by many.
3. Check your contact information.
What good is your professional profile if people who can help you grow your business, land a job or hire top talent don't know how to reach you? While in your headline section, click "See contact info" to make sure your email address and phone number are current. It's best to use a personal email address and phone number so when you change jobs, people still know how to reach out, other than through LinkedIn, which is OK only if you actually check your messages. And that brings us to...
4. Mark calendar to check LinkedIn regularly.
What good is a network if you don't tend to your network? Mark your calendar to check in on LinkedIn a couple times a month at least, or even better a couple times a week. Share updates, industry stories and inspirational articles with your network. Like the activity on your connections' feeds, too. And please check your messages.
5. Write or rewrite your summary story.
Next up is your summary story -- the narrative that appears below your name, headline and contact information section. If you don't know what I'm talking about, yours could be blank or perhaps you populated with the pre-written copy LinkedIn provides. A good way to sum up your career is to find a common theme that runs through your entire professional life. Heck, it might even stretch back to your childhood.
6. Edit your experience section.
Now head to your experience section, which lists the jobs you've held. There are three things to consider as you edit what is essentially the resume section. First, is it scannable. I recommend clearly saying what you do and what your responsibilities are and then highlighting achievements in a bulleted list. Second, are past jobs in past tense? I often see that people take a new job but forget to edit their past experience to be in the past. Attention to details matters.
Lastly, are there media links you can add to your various jobs? Maybe you wrote an article or paper or one was written about you. Maybe you were featured in a company video or you helped produce that video. Post media links to the corresponding jobs so people get another perspective on who you are and the work you do.
7. Add any missing sections.
Your LinkedIn spring cleaning is nearly done. Now consider if there are sections that are missing from your profile. You can click on "Add profile section" near the top of your profile to see what else you could include. Volunteer experience. Licenses and certifications. Languages. Those are just a few things you can add that give people a full picture of you.
8. Update privacy settings.
Privacy settings are personal. But I will say you don't want to totally lock down your profile so that only your network sees you or knows how to reach you. I'll leave all of this to you. One thing I do think you should "turn on" are notifications of profile changes to your network. If you start a new business or get a new job, you want your network to know about it.
There are half a billion LinkedIn users. With just a little effort, you can be one of the superstars, starting this spring.