While resumes have long been an essential ingredient in the job application process, today people are increasingly turning to online options such as LinkedIn. And, of course, making a good first impression is just as important online as it is when using a resume.
According to recent LinkedIn research, 65 percent of professionals say that the impression you make online is just as important as the one you make in person. Not only that, but 76 percent believe it's difficult to overcome a bad first impression.
According to LinkedIn career expert Blair Decembrele, your LinkedIn profile can and should be optimized to make the best impression you can on prospective employers. Blair offers the following specific tips for doing just that.
Showcase what you're "in it" for.
Your profile is an online reflection of who you are and what you're "in it" for, so you'll want to do some introspection before writing your summary. This is one of the top things a recruiter looks at when viewing your LinkedIn profile. Think of your summary as your elevator pitch--how would you spark a potential employer's or contact's interest in 40 words? Include your experience, skills and interests, as well as your passions, motivations, goals and what makes you unique as a professional. Make sure your online persona represents your most authentic self. Don't be afraid to let your personality shine through.
Use a photo that represents your professional identity.
First impressions matter, and a strong LinkedIn photo makes all the difference. In fact, in a recent LinkedIn survey, nearly one-fifth of hiring managers say they have eliminated a candidate from consideration because of inappropriate photos online. And, profiles with photos receive up to 21x more profile views, 9x more connection requests and up to 36x more messages. Ensure your photo is clear and professional by using a simple background, cropping it so your face fills up at least 60 percent of the frame, and using filters to enhance brightness, contrast or saturation.
Reference your education or current position.
Including your education, industry and current position help recruiters and alumni easily find you. Adding your education leads to up to 17x more messages from recruiters, so be sure to fill in your degree type, fields of study (if applicable), and the years you attended school. Additionally, be sure to add certifications and past job descriptions to give your audience more insight into your skills and experience--members with current positions are discovered up to 16x more in recruiter searches and profile views shoot up 29x.
Showcase your skills.
Almost 90 percent of professionals feel that skills are even more important than job titles, use your profile to showcase what you've learned in your career. Including five or more skills can help you get up to 17x more profile views and 31x more messages from recruiters and others who can help you get ahead. If you don't have any formal work experience, feature skills you learned through your studies or volunteer experience. Soft skills are just as, if not more important, than hard skills when applying for jobs, and many employers now tout skills over certificates. Take a look at desirable job descriptions for your field--if you have the skills for these positions, add them to your profile--and keep buzzwords like specialized, passionate and expert out of your summary.
Share your location.
Members with a location listed receive up to 19x more profile views, and 28x more likely to receive a message to start a conversation. Including the city where you are based makes you up to 23x more likely to be found by other members in your geographic area. More than 30% of recruiters rely on location information to find candidates, so the more details you have, the more likely you will be found and connected to your next opportunity.
Oh. And one more thing.
If you decide to upgrade your resume too (not a bad idea), LinkedIn has developed a pretty nifty tool called Resume Assistant which the company says, "offers inspiration and resources to craft a compelling resume directly within Microsoft Word." According to LinkedIn, when you select your desired role and industry, Resume Assistant pulls LinkedIn insights from millions (yes--millions) of member profiles. This provides you with the opportunity to see how people in that role described the work they do.
Regardless of how you decide to do it, making your LinkedIn profile stand out from the pack will be well worth your time. It might even land you your next job.