(*LinkedIn’s words, not mine.)
This past summer I had the pleasure of attending LinkedIn Festival: A Non-Technical Hackathon at the social networking service’s headquarters in Mountain View, California. Although I was there specifically to develop an idea that would promote employee engagement, I ended up talking with many LinkedIn employees who were staffing the weekend event about the website’s nuances and picked up some tips. If you’re still looking for an internship or your first full-time job, these little changes could help you build a profile that will stand out.
First impressions matter.
Your headline is an opportunity to create a slogan for yourself that others will use to make the decision as to whether to find out more or not. It is important to not only include what you do, but also add where you do it to give more interesting context, ultimately leading to what catches a hiring manager’s eye.
Secondly, adding a profile picture humanizes you. It’s hard to imagine a gray outline working alongside you, but I can definitely picture saying hi to Joseph in the office. Coincidentally, profiles with pictures actually get 14 times more views than those without.
Every LinkedIn profile comes with a unique URL but it may be an unintelligible string of characters to begin with. Not only will customizing your URL be easier on the eyes when including it in an email signature or on a business card, but it will also help with search engine optimization (SEO).
Another way to personalize your profile is by adding a background. The possibilities of what you could use to stand out from the millions of gray profiles are endless, but some safe ideas are a picture of your favorite city, a solid block of your favorite color or something related to a professional interest of yours. The Muse has a collection of good ones to help you get inspired.
Show, don’t just tell.
Lastly, make the effort to include links to your best work. If they’re not already available somewhere online, you can upload presentations to SlideShare, video projects to Vimeo, or articles you’ve written to the Pulse. Not only will this send traffic to your other online profiles, but also you’ll be presenting a more complete picture of what you’re capable of accomplishing.
Caitlin Tran is a sophomore majoring in arts, technology and the business of innovation. Her blog tech column, Captcha, runs every Tuesday.