LinkedIn has come a long way. What was once a stuffy social network that you likely rarely checked (and much less often updated) has now become the primary place for recruiters to scout new talent that they otherwise wouldn’t easily come across. It’s an amalgam of social media and digital resumé which, these days, career seekers cannot afford to ignore.
Sure, it’s tempting to simply create a profile and go through the usual motions of filling in the required fields, but we’re here to tell you that it’s in your best interest to craft your LinkedIn profile with more intent behind it than you would your Facebook page. We understand that there are a lot of moving parts which can quickly get overwhelming — but no one ever said that building a personal brand is easy!
If you’re new to LinkedIn or looking to give your page an upgrade, these five basic but essential steps will help you get the eyes you want on your profile.
1. Put your best face forward
While you should avoid putting your picture on a formal resume, your photo is likely the first thing a recruiter is going to see on your profile, so make it count. Choose a photo that’s clear, professional, and relevant to your brand. If you’re not quite sure what that means, take a second to look at profile pictures of other professionals in your sector.
It may be tempting to show off your adventurous side with a vacation photo but leave that for your other social profiles. LinkedIn is all about the close-up face shots, meaning that your face should take up 60% of the frame. Pick a photo where you look friendly, approachable and trustworthy. Remember, you’re building your personal brand!
If you can, we recommend having a professional take a few headshots. The investment may seem steep for a couple of photos, but these headshots will last you for at least the next decade and can be used throughout your professional brand.
2. Optimize your headline
Aside from your profile picture, your headline is the most visible part of your LinkedIn profile. Think about it — most recruiters have hundreds of profiles to virtually thumb through and not enough time to click on all of them. Gone are the days of just having “your position @ your company” as your tagline.
When crafting your perfect headline, use specific, strong adjectives that will show recruiters that you’re an exceptional candidate for the job you want. Since your headline is searchable, treat it as a piece of SEO content and figure out which keywords are most important to your target audience (in this case, insurance recruiters.)
Think of LinkedIn as a career-specific search engine but except in this scenario, you’re competing against all other job seekers in the insurance industry for that above-the-fold, first page result. That’s right, SEO isn’t just for search engines anymore!
3. Invest some time in your summary
A quality photo and a compelling headline have gotten a recruiter to click on your profile to learn more about you — congratulations! But it doesn’t stop there. The true first impression that a new visitor to your profile has is your summary section. In 2000 characters or less, you should be able to clearly paint a picture of who you are, what you do, and what sets you apart from other potential candidates. This is your chance to show off your personality (but keep it professional!)
Treat this part of your profile as a mini-career bio that supports your carefully-crafted headline. Like you did with your headline, clearly define your audience before putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard): What do you want them to know about you? What exactly are they looking for? Determining this will make the process much easier.
Pro tip: Since LinkedIn truncates these bios, we cannot stress enough the importance of leading with a strong opening sentence that will encourage recruiters to click that “show more” button.
4. Tailor your profile to your dream job
If you were to put your ideal job description and your LinkedIn profile side-by-side, would you see a lot of the same words? If you said no, then you’ve got some work to do.
Simply put, recruiters want to find candidates that are as close to an exact match to their job descriptions as possible. It may seem obvious, but most people don’t take the time to optimize their profiles to show that they have the right skills and experience to fill their dream jobs.
Are there certain words that appear often in a job description? These are your keywords! Sprinkle these throughout your headline, summary AND experience to ensure you’re getting found by the right people.
5. Stay active, stay relevant
Think about the people that you perceive to be industry thought leaders in your LinkedIn network. Chances are, they’re the ones who post regular updates about their respective field and foster discussion and participation from their peers on the subject.
Sharing relevant articles is a great way to establish yourself digitally as well as increase visibility not only among your network, but your peers’ networks as well. Being strategic and professional — we’re talking industry news rather than vacation photos — will show recruiters that you’re invested in cultivating knowledge about the insurance industry.