As we approach 2020 and you're thinking about a career-related New Year's resolution, check out seven tips from LinkedIn career expert, Blair Decembrele, on how to perfect your LinkedIn profile.

Your LinkedIn profile serves as your first impression with potential employers. And 65 percent of people believe that the impression you make online is just as important as the one you make in person. So, making a great first impression is key to landing your next opportunity.

1. Get picture perfect.

Your profile photo is your virtual handshake. People who have a profile photo on LinkedIn get up to 21X more profile views. Make sure your profile photo embodies you as a professional, but also makes you approachable. When thinking about what type of photo you want to add to your profile, make sure to use a simple background and that your face fills up at least 60 percent of the frame, so that the focus is on you, and dress for the job you want. Have a friend snap your picture from your mobile phone and upload it to your profile directly.

2. Showcase your education and experience.

For better chances of recruiters discovering you on LinkedIn, include your education and current position on your profile. According to LinkedIn data, professionals with current positions listed on their profiles are discovered up to 16X more in recruiter searches, and adding your education leads up to 17X more messages from recruiters. 

3. Spotlight your skills.

LinkedIn research reveals 69 percent of professionals think their skills are more important than college education when job-seeking, and 87 percent of recruiters agree the skills a candidate lists are crucial for them as they vet them. You don't have to have a lot of prior work experience to highlight how you can be an asset to a potential employer. Think about the skills you've picked up through projects at school, internships, or volunteer work that could be applicable for a particular role and list them on your profile, such as communication skills or adaptability. You can also verify your hard skills, such as Excel or Adobe Photoshop, on your profile with LinkedIn Skill Assessments. When candidates complete Skill Assessments, they're 30 percent more likely to get hired.   

4.  Share your location.

LinkedIn has found that simply including a city where you are based get up to 19X more profile views and makes you up to 23X more likely to be discovered in searches. Recruiters often use advanced searches based on where a potential candidate is based, so listing your location on your profile will make it even easier for you to be connected to your next opportunity. 

5. Ace your summary.

Think of your summary as your "about me." Try to sum up your experience in about 40 words and make sure you include any keywords and/or skills that you've seen featured in descriptions for jobs that seem interesting to you. A robust summary section makes your profile more likely to show up in a hiring manager's search and gives you the opportunity to share more about yourself.

6. Ask for recommendations or referrals.

Asking for recommendations from a peer, manager, direct report, professor, or client on your profile is a great way for hiring managers and recruiters to see what others say about your work. Or even better, if they are connected to someone at the company where you want to work, ask them to refer you. Job applicants who are referred by an employee are 9X more likely to get hired. 

7. Put your profile to work.

Once you've set up or refreshed your profile, start searching the 20+ million jobs on LinkedIn, and set up job alerts so you're among the first to be notified when a relevant job is posted. Applying for a job within the first 10 minutes of receiving a relevant job notification increases your chances of hearing back by up to 4X.

Published on: Nov 22, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.