LinkedIn profiles should be awesome, not average


Looking to land that perfect job through LinkedIn? Simply having a “good” profile won't help, said Amy O’Donnell, an associate lecturer for career development in the college of business and innovation at the University of Toledo and an avid proponent of LinkedIn.

“There are a lot of average profiles of people who simply go through the motions of building a profile because someone told them to,” she said. “Your profile has to be your personally branded presence that you put out to millions of people who either want to network with or hire you. ... If I were a recruiter, I would not be looking for average. I would be looking for awesome.”

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Developing a great LinkedIn profile takes time, Mrs. O’Donnell said. “It’s kind of like renovating a historic home — it’s a labor of love that is always in the process of continuous improvement. If you are just starting out on LinkedIn, I would designate time each day to either build your profile or reach out to others.”

Here are some of her tips for creating a standout LinkedIn presence:

● Use a professional-looking headshot of you alone. “Oftentimes, recruiters won’t even look at someone’s profile unless they have a headshot. High school yearbook pictures, party pics, cropped shots with someone else’s cheek, or selfies in the front seat of your car are not professional looking,” she said. “You don’t need to pay big bucks for this: Just put on professional apparel (at least from the waist up) and take the time to ask someone to take some shots of you.”

● When building a profile, LinkedIn defaults to your “current position.” Instead, compose a well-crafted headline. “This is a branding statement that encompasses key words associated with the industry you desire to enter, words that draw emotion, and make you stand out,” Mrs. O’Donnell said.

● Compose a summary that is “key word-filled and forward-thinking.” “You don’t need to reflect on the past, but rather how you could bring value to a company. The past will get highlighted in your experience section. When composing, you want employers to be enticed to keep reading, not to stop because you sound like ‘everybody else,” she said.

● Take advantage of the many sections there are to build content in your profile. “This information is especially relevant for students or individuals without a lot of experience,” Mrs. O’Donnell said. “LinkedIn has made it easy to highlight areas like courses, presentations, certifications, involvement in service or other organizations, relevant courses, publications, skills, and honors and awards, to name a few, so that everyone has the ability to promote their personal brand.”