How to Build a LinkedIn Profile that Stands Out in 2021

by Giusy di Francesco

Top Tips for Job Hunting in
the Social Media Era

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18 JUNE, 2021
When LinkedIn launched in 2003 it was the business answer to Facebook. Only without the pokes, writing on walls and the gimmicky games. 

In years since the networking and recruitment tool has grown ever more sophisticated. Aside from being able to share a widening array of content, its ability to help employers and candidates find one another has grown significantly.

While LinkedIn offers businesses various paid advertising tools to tout their products and services, a huge amount of their revenue comes from recruitment. Specifically, recruiter licenses that allow hiring managers and recruitment consultants to find candidates.
Recruiter licences allow for a diverse range of search parameters, as well as the ability to message someone even if they’re not a connection.
This means LinkedIn profiles that are both well written and complete are far more likely to be found.

In 2021 successful job hunting requires having a LinkedIn profile that's current and optimised.
It's not enough to simply exist on. If you are job hunting and you’ve neglected your LinkedIn profile, you’re actively hurting your chances!

🚀 Nail the Basics

Before we get into the detailed stuff, it’s important you get the basics right:

📌 Your profile picture

Your profile picture should be professional, or at least not be a blurry photo of you:

  • Out on the town
  • In swimwear
  • Embracing a partner, friend or family member
  • Or anything else you care to think of.

Where possible you need to be smartly presented against a neutral background.
You don’t have to be in a suit - casual work attire is a thing - but you need to be presentable.

📌 Your Headline

Next make sure your headline stands out. One thing to remember is that the headline is searchable.
So before you go down the route of a buzzword laden strapline, make sure that you’re hitting valuable keywords.
In a nutshell keywords are what the search algorithm looks for in order to provide the user with relevant information.
Google works in the same way!

So if your headline manages to avoid anything and everything about what you actually do in an attempt to sound cutting edge and cool, then you’ll never get found. If on the other hand, you intersperse your florid prose with things like your job title or other useful information then you’ll be found far more frequently.

Some of the most overused buzzwords in headlines - according to LinkedIn - are: 

  • Specialised
  • Leadership
  • Focused
  • Strategic
  • Experienced
  • Passionate 
  • Expert
  • Creative
  • Innovative
  • Certified

This isn’t to say you can’t be those things but use the terms wisely. Your fellow users aren’t stupid and in the absence of any real substance, they’ll just assume you’re a charlatan and move on.

📌 Your Summary

Some employers will try to make you use your summary to describe their business.
Don’t let them bully you. 
For one thing your LinkedIn profile is yours. They have absolutely no legal right to anything about your profile, including any contacts you make as a result of being employed by them. LinkedIn’s policies are very clear that it is a peer to peer platform and they will always defend the rights of the user.

Equally it’s amazing how many people just don’t bother.
Your summary is an opportunity to showcase your skills, experience and personality.
Better than that, it’s an opportunity to tell your story. To talk about what motivates you and why you’ve taken the career path you’re on.

It provides you a platform to talk about the skills and experiences that you can’t always squeeze into your employment history.
But more than that it gives your employment history context, and that’s really important for a recruiter or hiring manager.

📌 Experience and Education

Not enough people give this section the due consideration it deserves.
Most users put down the organisation, the dates and the course or job title and that’s it.

But think about it - your LinkedIn profile is effectively an online CV. A busy hiring manager isn’t going to idly guess what you did in each of your roles. They are going to simply discard you and move on. Take a little bit of time to detail your current and previous roles. It will help to corroborate your summary and it will also tie in with the skills section of your profile.

Don’t forget - every single field of your LinkedIn profile is searchable.
So the more effort you put into your job descriptions, the more people will find you.

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🚀 List your Skills

Another much overlooked part of the LinkedIn profile is the skills section.
Which is crazy because it’s probably the thing that’ll yield the quickest wins. Again, largely thanks to how the search algorithm works.

Listing your skills makes you easy to find - because those skills serve as keywords. It also allows the time-limited hiring manager to quickly determine if you could do the job they need to fill. However, resist the urge to list every single skill you can think of. A basic understanding of French is irrelevant. Unless you could hold a high level business conversation in the language then it’s not that helpful.

Equally, if it’s a skill that you haven’t used in years, then chances are you’re not as good as you might think. Keep your skills list refined to not only what you can actually do, but also what’s relevant to your job or offering. The same logic applies to the certification section found above skills. Any certifications you have on your profile should be relevant and current. It’s far better to have no certifications than a load of stuff that’s expired.

It just looks like you’ve let things slide, even though your career may have simply taken you in a different direction.

📌 Take a skills assessment

A skills assessment is an online test that demonstrates the level of your skills. Providing you pass you will get a Verified Skills badge on your profile. Accordingly to LinkedIn, candidates with a Verified Skills badge on their profiles were 30% more likely to be hired for the roles relating to those skills.

The really useful thing is you can take the assessment as many times as you need to pass and your profile won’t show the badge until you want it to.

🚀 Endorsements

Social proof is an essential component of any buying decision. The same goes for hiring someone. If you come recommended by an associate of the hiring manager, you’re halfway there. Therefore a LinkedIn profile awash with endorsements is only going to make you more appealing. The hiring manager or recruiter has social proof that you can do what you say. Which makes you a much safer hire.

If your LinkedIn profile is lacking endorsements then you need to build this part of your profile up.

First go through your connections and identify who to contact. Former colleagues and clients you had a good relationship with is the obvious place to start. Then take some time to craft a short but polite message asking those people to endorse you. While it’s easy to feel awkward about - essentially - asking a favour, most people will be happy to oblige.

Give them some time to respond before chasing. While what you’re asking doesn’t take much time, they are still taking time out of their day, so be patient.

🚀 Recommendations

Much like endorsements, recommendations are another high valuable form of social proof. 
It tells employers and recruiters that you’re great at what you do in the words of former employers, clients or suppliers.

Recommendations are personal testimonials that illustrate what it’s like working with you.
Examples of when you’ve gone above and beyond or any other circumstances in which you’ve showered yourself in glory. There’s a drop-down menu in the Recommendations section of your profile that makes it quick and easy to reach out to specific contacts. 

While it’s important to choose carefully who endorses you, it goes double for recommendations. Recommendations hold considerable value so it’s very much a case of quality over quantity. Identify whose recommendations would be of most value and take some time to write a personalised message to each one.

🚀 Develop your Personal Brand

Once you’ve got all the information on your profile, that’s not the work done with. That’s essentially the minimum requirement. Now you have to invest some time developing your personal brand on the platform. This takes some time but it’s worth it if you land a great job as a result. The idea of a personal brand is quite broad and can be taken to extremes in an effort to get ahead. However overdoing it can make you come off as narcissistic. Remember - whenever you share something it needs to add value to the reader, not to you.

The value to you comes later when people start using your name in the same sentence as words like expert, guru or legend.

Cultivate your Network

Connections are important. They lend your credibility - rightly or wrongly - so take some time to broaden your network. Don’t just click connect on all the suggestions the platform makes. Having a network full of people you couldn't pick out of a line up isn’t that helpful. An effective way of broadening your network is to sync your email’s address book with LinkedIn. It’s amazing how many people you can be reintroduced to.

Create Content

Whether it’s marketing material, blogs, white papers, infographics or anything else you can think of, helps to make you credible.It demonstrates your knowledge and it also adds vale to your connections, which raises your profile in all the right ways.Free, value add content is an essential cog in the modern marketing machine. So you need to do all you can to offer that value to your network.

Take credit where it’s due

Use the Publications section of your profile to share your white papers and other thought leadership pieces. It will really help you stand out from the crowd. Obviously never pass anything that isn’t yours off as your own. Trust takes an age to build and a moment to destroy. If you had help acknowledge those people and their contributions accordingly.

Follow Influencers and Businesses

By following key persons of influence as well as the big names in your industry you gain two things. The first is the benefit of their unique insight which can be highly valuable.
The second is a feed full of interesting, useful and valuable content for you to share with your audience...

Share Content

This can be the content you’ve created or it can be curated from other sources, either is fine. It just needs to be relevant, interesting and adds value to your audience.You can curate content either by sharing the content your network puts out, or you can spend some time browsing industry websites. Curating content is often looked upon negatively because you’re promoting other people’s work. This is true, however it also says that you value sharing information over your ego.

However, when you share curated content, don’t just share it. Add a comment displaying that you’ve understood the content and see the value of sharing it with others. The more you do this the more people will come to rely on your opinion and insight. This goes a long way to building your personal brand, even if you don’t produce much content yourself.

From a visibility perspective, comments tend to provoke responses. Whether your audience agrees with your or not, by leaving comments they help to raise your profile across the platform.

Cultivating a LinkedIn profile - and a LinkedIn presence can be time consuming.

However, the more you put into it the more you get out.

Building and maintaining a strong LinkedIn profile you will make yourself highly attractive to potential employers. You will also be equally attractive to potential candidates too.

There aren’t many people who would pass up an opportunity to work with an expert/guru/legend.

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About the Author

Giusy is the voice of our social media and the eyes of our website 👀
With 7+ years’ experience in the Digital Marketing world, she is consumer-behaviour obsessed, strategy focused and social media expert. She also specialised in Sociology and the Psychology behind Marketing - yes, she loves analysing whatever you do on our website and socials and no, she can't read your mind. (but she will try! )
She has Italian roots, loves pizza and supports sustainability in every way she can.