“Most LinkedIn profiles are awful.”
That’s the assessment of Ross Macpherson, president of Career Quest, an executive resume writing and career marketing company.
Though the majority of finance professionals understand that they should be on LinkedIn, Macpherson explained during a webinar for CFA Institute, many still have a long way to go to get the most out of the platform.
So what are the two most common problems? Profiles are either skeletal or generic, Macpherson said.
But before you drill down into the details and start building or renovating your LinkedIn page, make sure you take care of two critical components:
- Include a photo. Those who do are seven times more likely to be contacted, Macpherson said. While you don’t need to pay big money for a professional head shot, you should have a basic photo of your head and shoulders, with you facing the camera and smiling, in front of an unobtrusive background. There shouldn’t be any “phantom arm” reaching around your shoulders or other evidence that you’ve cropped someone else out.
- Manage your notification settings before you start revamping your profile. If you don’t, your entire network may be informed of each change you make. Unless you want to hint that you’re gearing up for a career transition, don’t call attention to every edit. It’s awkward at best and spam-y at worst.
Once those initial steps are taken care of, Macpherson recommends following five pieces of advice to really make your LinkedIn profile stand out:
- Write about who you are at your best. When accomplishing your goals, earning recognition, or feeling energized about your career, what qualities, skills, knowledge, and experiences are you leveraging? Sketch that out for yourself. The trick, of course, is really focusing in and having the self-awareness to present an accurate portrayal.
- Highlight those experiences and skills your target audience wants. This is the “What’s in it for me?” (WIIFM) rule of marketing. Keep in mind that people need to quickly realize what value you offer them, so think about who you want to reach — recruiters, potential clients, peers — and how you can communicate what is most relevant to them.
- Focus on what makes you unique. Assume that anyone reading your profile can pull up a list of dozens of professionals with qualifications similar to yours. Find a way to establish your credibility by demonstrating that you possess the essential qualifications required to achieve your goal without blending in with everyone else. Pay attention to how your distinct combination of attributes will achieve your objectives.
- Create an informative headline. The 120 characters that appear just under your name on your profile is critical space. Most people list their current job title or a vague description of the type of work they do. But think about who you want to find you and why and imagine you had only 120 characters to convince them to consider you. You’ll probably use this space a bit differently now, won’t you?
- Optimize the summary section. Many people don’t use this space, or if they do, insert a bulleted list or a few sentences filled with buzzwords and clichés. As with your headline, consider how you can use this space strategically. Macpherson recommends a first-person, conversational narrative.
If you’re interested in improving your LinkedIn profile further, listen to the full webinar. Other webinars — Jared Redick: “Four Strategies for Building Your Personal Brand on LinkedIn,” and “Advanced Writing Strategies for LinkedIn” — might be helpful as well.
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All posts are the opinion of the author. As such, they should not be construed as investment advice, nor do the opinions expressed necessarily reflect the views of CFA Institute or the author’s employer.
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