An effective LinkedIn profile is an asset in a passive job search, allowing you to be found online by recruiters and hiring managers looking for candidates like you. It is also essential in an active job search, allowing you to connect with companies that are hiring, apply for positions online, and use your network more effectively.
Profiles that are considered “complete” by LinkedIn’s standards receive 40 times more “opportunities” (contacts from prospective hiring managers and recruiters) than incomplete profiles. LinkedIn has its own criteria for “profile completeness” — these are things you need to have on your LinkedIn account in order to have a “complete” profile, according to LinkedIn.
Your profile will be considered “complete” according to LinkedIn if it includes the following,
- Your industry,
- Your location,
- An updated current position,
- Two past positions under “Experience”,
- Your education,
- Profile photo, and
- A minimum of 50 connections.
The “rules” LinkedIn has for designating a profile complete may seem arbitrary. You are likely to get better results by doing things their way so we’ll suggest how LinkedIn requirements can work for you in different situations.
Pick an Industry.
LinkedIn’s “Intro Card” section includes an Industry drop down menu. The menu allows you to categorize your profile into only one of the industries on their list. The benefit of this is it helps promote your profile to one industry where you bring the most value.
Some job seekers find it challenging to select an industry. For example, a recent client works in both Apparel and Arts & Crafts. Another client works in both Aviation & Aerospace, and in the Renewables & Environment industries. The first client chose to categorize her profile in the Apparel industry because that covered most of her experience and her skillset. The other client was speaking with recruiters mainly about jobs in renewable energy after a stint in aerospace, so we placed his profile in the Renewable & Environment industry.
My own profile places me in the “Writing & Editing” industry. LinkedIn, oddly enough, does not have a “Career & Employment Services” or similar category.
It will help to decide on your goal as you set up or upgrade your LinkedIn profile.
Your Location matters to recruiters.
Recruiters still look for people in the employer’s commuting area even in the age of remote work. You will drop out of their searches for someone that can commute to Manhattan, for example, if you do not list your location as “New York Metro Area.” Do not allow LinkedIn to simply show you are in the United States.
You should include an updated current position.
LinkedIn characterizes your profile as incomplete if you do not include a current position. This LinkedIn requirement poses a challenge for job seekers that were sidelined during the Pandemic.
Don’t panic. As discussed in “3 Strategies to Get a Job faster in 2021”, there are workarounds when you are in full-time job search. My favorite—an approach I’ve advocated for use on resumes during every recent recession—is to show you are doing consulting in your desired job title.
A client that is a business analyst used this approach successfully in Ft. Lauderdale—a market hit hard by COVID-19—to land a new role several months ago. Her narrative may be found in a blog post at this link.
Another approach a recruiter and LinkedIn expert told me is acceptable is listing your job title as “Business Analyst | Job ended in March, 2021.” He considers it okay to leave the “this is my current job” box checked as long as you are clear in the job title field that you are no longer at this job.
Look for volunteer opportunities, paid short-term consulting or temp work, a leadership role in your professional association, or relevant training opportunities as soon as possible, though, so you can create a separate “current job” entry on LinkedIn.
Show 2 previous positions in the “Experience” section.
Your chances of being found on LinkedIn are also increased when you show at least two prior jobs in addition to your current role. This could be an issue if you have been in the same job since finishing college 20 years ago, for example, but most of us have probably changed our title or role in the last few years, even if we have not changed employers.
So, if you were at one company for 20 years where you changed titles at some point, and then got downsized due to the Pandemic, you can create three job experience entries on LinkedIn—two for your long-term job, and then one for your Pandemic-year professional activities.
Enter your education.
LinkedIn treats education as another essential entry for “All-star status”. Recruiters, have told me they search for people that went to certain schools. Additionally, a college degree is a “must have” requirement for a great many jobs, so recruiters will have LinkedIn automatically eliminate candidates that do not have degrees on their profile.
That does not mean you are out of the running on LinkedIn if you did not attend school for whatever reason. One LinkedIn expert I have spoken with suggested entering “School of Hard Knocks” to meet LinkedIn’s requirement that you have an education entry.
Those of us that have been successful without a great education have probably developed a strong skillset at work. LinkedIn’s Skills section is the place where you can shine.
Fill your Skills section entries.
You must enter at least four skills to reach All-star status on LinkedIn, and it is advantageous for you to do so. In fact, you can enter up to 50 skills, including industry-specific skills and technology skills.
The LinkedIn system has a database with thousands of skills. As you enter a skill, LinkedIn will suggest a skill that matches from it’s database. In other words, as you start typing Microsoft Excel, LinkedIn will recognize it.
Take full advantage of the Skills section because LinkedIn requires that you include skills, and recruiters search for skills.
Include a profile photo.
LinkedIn requires a profile photo to consider your profile complete. More important, perhaps, is that LinkedIn profiles with photos get at least 21 times more views and 36 times more messages. It is important, then, that you make a great first impression with your photo.
We’ve offered 13 photo tips before. Briefly, we recommend your photo show your face clearly, be high resolution, and be an appropriate business photo. Also, add a background image related to your personal brand.
Establish a minimum of 50 connections.
LinkedIn is social media, so it is important to be active. Recruiters are unlikely to find you when you have less than 50 connections. This is another area we have covered in a previous blog post on networking. Briefly, start by searching for people you know, and for people in organizations you want to learn more about. You will be surprised how fast you will reach the magic number.
These tips will get you started. Next, contact us for a complimentary call to review your career marketing strategy, including your LinkedIn profile.