I'm sure you've read many articles on writing your LinkedIn profile. And I'm sure you know how important your profile is to your LinkedIn campaign. This is why it's important to not simply slap our profile together and hope for the best."Your profile is important but it's not the only piece of the proverbial puzzle. Read the series beginning with The ultimate LinkedIn guide, part 1: how to optimize your LinkedIn profile to learn how to create and effective LinkedIn campaign."This post focuses on the profile alone, and more specifically how you need to reflect before you begin writing it, or even if you've already written it. Here are some important considerations:
How do you want to brand yourself?
The first consideration, how you want to brand yourself
, requires a great deal of reflection in itself. First you have to decide if what you're doing is what you want to continue doing, or if you want to go in a different direction.If you want to continue on the same path, you'll have to think about how you can strengthen your message. While it may be strong on your résumé, the LinkedIn profile gives you more leeway for expressing the value you will provide to the employer. Think Headline and Summary
as the most obvious places where you can accomplish this.But also consider other sections on your profile that aren't typically on your résumé, namely Skills & Endorsements, Volunteer, expanded Experience, and Recommendations.Some of my clients want to change their career and ask me if they should create two profiles. First of all, I tell them, this violates LinkedIn's policy. But more to the point, it would be a royal pain in the ass.My advice is to express their transferable areas of expertise in their Headline, tell their story in the Summary
, and prioritize statements throughout their profile.
Your LinkedIn profile is not your résumé
I tell my clients that initially they can copy and paste their résumé content to their profile, but then they need to personalize their profile. Make it a personal résumé, an online marketing document. This will take a great deal of reflection.However, your profile shouldn't confuse hiring authorities as to what you do. For example, you don't want to brand yourself—on your résumé—as a marketing specialist, but emphasize to a greater extent—on your profile—your expertise as a web designer. This will definitely confuse hiring authorities.If you're in job-search mode, you want the two to be similar, yet not identical. In other words don't regurgitate what you have on your résumé. However, if you're gainfully employed and want to convey the message that you are promoting a side hustle
, you have more flexibility.
Which parts of your profile will brand you?
The answer is every part of your LinkedIn profile brands you, beginning with your background image
and ending with your interests. Yes, even your background image can brand you. Didn't think about this, did you? Again, this will require reflection.
Here are some of the profile sections that you also need to reflect upon: Headline Photo Summary Articles/activities Experience Education Volunteer experience Skills & endorsements Speaking again of your Summary
, reflect on how you want to tell your story. Of all the major sections on your profile, this is blatantly different from your résumé. You'll write it in first-person point of view, talk about your passion or knowledge of your industry, include some accomplishments, and a call to action, e.g., your email address.
Who is your audience?
Your audience is your intended industry. You will deliver a different message if you're changing careers
; but if you want to continue doing what you've done, you're speaking to the same audience. Therefore, you must optimize your profile with industry keywords.The narrative you use to address your audience will take some reflection. I've mentioned your Summary as a great section to speak to your audience, to tell your story. Your job scope in your Experience section is another area where you can express your message.
Here's how I talk to my audience:
"I'm more than a workshop facilitator & designer; I'm a career and LinkedIn strategist who constantly thinks of ways to better market my customers in their job search. Through disseminating trending job-search strategies, I increase our customers' chances of finding jobs."Knowing your audience takes a great deal of reflection. Obviously, from my example, I'm addressing job seekers in a personal manner.Reflecting on your LinkedIn profile is no easy task. I see the cogs working in my clients head when I ask them to consider the aforementioned aspect of their LinkedIn profile. Whether you are starting your LinkedIn profile or revising an existing one, it definitely will require reflection.