For modern professionals, LinkedIn has become the leading online platform for networking, job seeking, and more. But whether you’re getting ready to launch your career or pursue new opportunities, LinkedIn can feel a bit overwhelming. How important is it? And where do you start? We reached out to an expert, Bethel University alumnus Jonathan Kidder. Along with his role as a senior technical recruiter for Amazon, Kidder—nicknamed the “WizardSourcer”—maintains a blog to be a leading resource on tech recruiting, and he’s written several books for recruiters and job seekers, including two about LinkedIn.
Here’s what he shared to help you unlock LinkedIn:
Manage your personal brand.
You can define and develop how other members view your professional experience and qualifications. Having an updated profile will help recruiters and other members understand your professional personality. Ultimately, it will lead recruiters to reach out to you in the future for better opportunities.
An updated profile is a great way to ensure that you can be found by the right people at the right time. Being proactive about your future plans will set you up for success in the long term. I’ve gotten offers for more senior-level roles without trying. The more proactive you can be, the better the chances of having offers arise.
Build your network and track your professional achievements.
All your professional achievements (new job, work anniversary, or promotion) can be recorded and displayed on your LinkedIn profile. It will help you showcase your professional experience and achievements to other members who view your profile.
Grow your knowledge base.
You’ll really gain value by following other members in specific industries. Whether it’s someone you look up to or accidentally follow, the more connections and followers you gain the more chances to learn and grow in your field. You can see how others have been promoted or started in your specific field of study. When starting out, it may be smart to copy-cat others.
Earn a higher salary.
By networking solely on the platform, I’ve been asked to present at in-person and virtual-based events. I’ve gotten paid for my presentations, received free access to industry-specific tools, received T-shirts, merchandise, and so much more! I’ve been able to get promoted and hired at a higher salary all thanks to networking on LinkedIn.
And here are 12 ways to optimize your profile on LinkedIn:
1. Use a quality headshot and background banner.
Recruiters like to see a professional photo on your profile. You need to create a personal brand that helps people connect a name with a face. Recruiters will sometimes avoid profiles that don’t have a photo. I recommend using the same photo on other professional sites like Facebook, About.me, or Twitter. Once you upload a picture you can customize the badge icon to say: Open to new opportunities. It’s just another way to get noticed quickly.
Members with a profile photo receive up to 21 times more profile views and nine times more connection requests.
Get creative with your banner picture. Add a unique image that promotes your personal brand. Your background photo is a chance to add a little glitter to your profile.
2. Add contact information.
Make it easy for recruiters to reach out to you. Add your personal email and cell phone to your profile. If you don’t feel comfortable giving out your cell phone—create one using Google Voice instead. This allows you to easily screen potential calls and get summarized voicemails sent right to your Gmail.
3. Add your location.
The location field is very important on a profile. You can restrict yourself from appearing in searches by not correctly adding the right location diameters. The best solution to this is to simply include your zip or postal code in your profile. I also recommend including “greater” (Greater Minneapolis-St Paul Area) under your experiences. Adding “greater” in your specific location will expand your reach by 50 miles.
Pro Tip: Including the city where you are based makes you stand out up to 23 times in searches. (Source: LinkedIn)
4. Make a customized URL.
You can customize and create your own personal URL on LinkedIn. Simply go to the settings to customize this feature. I recommend using your full name. When people Google your name, your LinkedIn profile will rank on the first page of results on most search engines.
For example, my profile URL is linkedin.com/in/jonathankidder
5. Adding professional URL links to your profile.
You can add additional anchor text links in your contact me area. I recommend personalizing each link. For example, [Jonathan Kidder Resume] and add a hyperlink to your resume. This allows for additional links to be connected to your profile. Thus, more opportunities to have your links get ranked by Google as well.
Professional sites to include on your profile:
- WordPress/Medium Blog
- Meetup Member
- About.me profile
- Portfolio links
6. Promote your URL link.
After you’ve customized your LinkedIn URL, use that link to promote yourself in email signatures, Twitter, About.me, websites, or even on Facebook. The more areas you can promote your personal brand, the better your chances to make a connection with someone.
7. Fine-tune your summary section.
In the summary section, go back to what you’ve first added and start making small adjustments. I include a quick summary of my experience, and I highlight small successes throughout my career. I make sure to highlight target job titles and keywords that I want other users or recruiters to search for. Highlight different projects that you are working on. Overall, try to use the entire space to summarize your background.
8. Include research keywords.
Use Indeed jobs or Google for Jobs to research trending keywords based on different job titles. This one’s a secret gem; use this to discover additional skill sets or keywords to add to your profile. It’s like Google’s keyword planner tool, just like how SEO professionals research trending keywords, use job trends to figure out which keyword skill sets are gaining popularity in your niche fields.
9. Use bullet points.
Instead of just copying and pasting a job description in your experience summaries, try to use bullet points to highlight individual things that you’ve worked on. Use different keywords to describe the same skill set like “PMP, Project Management,” or “IT Project Manager.” Play around with the keywords but do not repeat keywords. I do, however, like to add additional keywords that highlight what I’ve worked on at that company.
Pro tip: Members with more than five skills are 27 times more likely to be discovered in searches by recruiters. (Source: LinkedIn)
10. Add endorsements.
Use this feature to focus on your target keywords list. Use the keywords that you’ve researched and add those as endorsements. Even though this feature can get rather annoying, it does help boost your profile and search rankings.
11. Follow groups and companies.
Try to target different networking groups that connect to your field. Use this to connect and network with others in your niche field. Also, make sure to follow different companies that you would like to work for. Basically, future-proof your career by researching growing companies. Recruiters can see that you are a company follower in LinkedIn recruiter, so the odds of having them reach out will increase.
12. Selecting “Open to New Opportunities.”
You can select “open to new opportunities” in your preferences. This is a private feature to let recruiters know that you are actively looking for new opportunities. Recruiters target these types of profiles first. Only use this if you are looking at finding a new opportunity.
After earning a B.A. in Business from Bethel University, Jonathan Kidder ’11 has gone on to be a leading voice in the tech recruiting industry and is a senior technical recruiter for Amazon. You can read more about him in this article or at Kidder’s blog and books at his webpage.