If you didn't already know, LinkedIn is the new résumé. No, you can't toss your résumé out just yet. But eventually, we won't need it. Why? LinkedIn is the No. 1 tool recruiters use to research candidates. Five out of six HR managers and recruiters review your profile to determine if they should contact you about an opportunity. However, while there are over 400 million member profiles (and counting) on LinkedIn, it's estimated as many as half of them aren't optimizing their profiles, a.k.a. filling them out correctly. Here's why...
Unless You're an SEO and Marketing Ninja, You Have No Clue How to Write Your Profile
Like your résumé, your LinkedIn profile is a marketing document. You're summarizing the success of your business-of-one and presenting it to potential customers. However, on LinkedIn there's an added component: You need to choose your keywords wisely in order to get found. LinkedIn is a search engine, like Google or Yahoo. Your profile must have the right words in it. They must also be in your profile repeatedly, and in particular places within it, to increase your chances of being found. This is referred to as "keyword density," and it has a major impact on the chances a recruiter finds you.
Why should you care? Job boards are dying. Recruiters aren't posting the good opportunities on them anymore. Instead, they do proactive searches on LinkedIn to get a list of candidates they can then contact to discuss the career opportunities they have available. It's called "the hidden job market," and it's where all the good jobs are. If you want access to it, you need an optimized LinkedIn profile.
Don't Outsource the Marketing of Your Business-of-One. Here's Why...
You can hire someone to write your LinkedIn profile, but I advise against it. Why? You will need to update your profile on an ongoing basis. You're better off investing some time into learning the right way to present yourself on LinkedIn so you can maintain the profile. Honestly, it's not that hard. To get started, let me share with you the top five most common mistakes made on LinkedIn profiles today. How do I know this? I run Careerealism, a website with more than a million monthly visitors. We created a recruiter directory--a place where you can go search, find, and meet recruiters. These recruiters have specifically told us what drives them nuts about LinkedIn profiles. According to them, the following things turn them off:
1. A bad top-fold. Your picture, profile background, headline, and summary are the first thing that comes into view when a recruiter looks at your profile. It's referred to as the top-fold. Recruiters won't scroll past the top-fold and look at your work history and skills if they don't see something they like. Unfortunately, too many people treat LinkedIn like Facebook and Twitter. They put the wrong photos, silly headlines, and over-the-top summaries that scream, "I'm trying too hard." Recruiter are skimmers, they don't want flash, they want facts. Keep it simple and professional.
2. Too much text. Detailed, lengthy paragraphs aren't for LinkedIn profiles. If your summary is more than four or five sentences long, it isn't a summary! You need to simplify your text and focus on your keywords to create density. A long-winded profile actually works against you because it dilutes your keyword density. Not to mention, recruiters take one look and say "Next" because they don't have time to read your epic novel about yourself.
3. Subjective, narcissistic writing style. Calling yourself a "proficient self-starter with exceptional multitasking skills and incredible attention to details," sounds self-important and silly. It's annoying to recruiters because their reaction is, "Oh ya. Says who? I'm the one who will decide if you're those things." It's their job as a recruiter to determine your skill level. When you sell yourself that hard, you sound over-the-top and look like you're trying too hard. Which leads to the next one...
4. Too many multisyllabic words. Studies show people who use too many of these words are less trusted. Why? It makes them appear like they're trying to sound smarter than they are. Not only is there a good chance you don't know the real meaning of the word, but it's condescending to the people you're communicating with if they don't know the meaning of the word. Stop trying to impress with words. Instead, let your actions speak for you. If you can't explain what you do to a sixth grader, you're suspect.
5. No numbers or stats to back up your expertise. The easiest way to cut down the text in a LinkedIn profile is to share the facts. When you can quantify your accomplishments, you're giving the recruiter what they need to assess your abilities and sell the hiring manager on the idea of meeting with you. Recruiters need to compare apples to apples. Listing your accomplishments in a quantifiable form is the easiest way for them to compare you to others. Plus, studies show numbers are easier to read on a LinkedIn profile. The more you have, the more impressive you are.
If you're making any of these errors, I suggest you carve some time out on your schedule and fix them. Especially if you want to be contacted about career opportunities. Your personal brand on LinkedIn matters. The sooner you know how to make a good impression, the more likely you are to get noticed.