A sparse LinkedIn profile doesn’t really say much about you and doesn’t make you stand out. A detailed LinkedIn profile is far more compelling, as it allows you to showcase your skills and accomplishments. It also takes time and creativity, so don’t expect to knock it out in 30 minutes or less.
Use a flattering, professional, civilian photograph. Adding a professional photo to your profile makes you 11 times more likely to be found on LinkedIn. The key word here is “professional”. This isn’t Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, so unless there is a compelling business reason to do so, don’t use photos from your wedding, with your family, on vacation, from that marathon you ran, or with your pet. While those are all lovely and no doubt you look happy in them, you don’t look professional. When choosing your profile picture, think about whether you would put this image of you on your business cards. You want your photo to convey that you are likable, competent, influential, professional, and forward-thinking.
Include a positive attention-grabbing headline. The default for this field is your current job title and company name. However, your headline is fully editable, so you can make it say whatever you’d like, up to 120 characters. This field is required for all-star status. Are you looking for new opportunities or moving to a new area? This is the place to mention it!
Include a summary that describes you and what you bring to the table. This should not duplicate the content of any other section in your profile, but it should complement what you include elsewhere. Include keywords that highlight your skills and achievements, but leave out overused buzzwords and jargon.
Effectively communicate your work experience. Illuminate your experience with numbers, make it active and results-oriented, and be sure to write it so that a person who has no military experience can understand what you bring to the table. For additional guidance, check out Lynda.com’s video, Add your work experience (this video takes a little over 3 minutes to view).
Add media to your profile to build a portfolio. This content might include documents, images, links, videos or presentations. A portfolio helps potential employers better appreciate your skills and experience and image how you can apply those to their business.
Include your skills and endorsements that are best suited to your job search. Profile views for LinkedIn members that list skills on their profiles are 4 times higher than views for profiles that do not list skills. That being said, make sure that the skills you have on your LinkedIn profile are skills you possess and relevant to your job search. Sure, you might make a mean cupcake, but if you aren’t currently in the baking industry or trying to break into the baking industry that might not be a skill you want to include on your LinkedIn profile. However, don’t necessarily discount a skill that is transferable. For example, if event planning is a skill you possess, but it isn’t required or it’s not a typical skill that you expect to use in your target industry, it might still make sense to include it on your LinkedIn profile. The organizational, logistical, and time management skills that make up “event planning” will likely come in handy. You are allowed to include up to 50 skills, after all, and you can always choose to include something you’re not sure about closer to the bottom of your list of skills.
Include recommendations. Ideally, you will have many recommendations and they’ll be from a variety of people, including those to whom you have reported, those who have reported to you, coworkers, and clients (applicable to your industry).
Use projects to highlight specific successful efforts. Provide additional details that you might not have the space to include in your “Experience” or “Volunteer” sections. Consider adding rich content like slide presentations, videos, websites, and other examples of your work from a particular project that you are proud of.
Don’t forget to include volunteer experience, especially when volunteer experience supports your career aspirations. A 2011 survey conducted by LinkedIn revealed that one out of every five hiring managers in the U.S. has hired a candidate because of their volunteer work experience.
Show that you are a member of a lot of groups that interest you, like the Marine For Life Network. (And don’t overlook participating in conversations in those groups. Demonstrate your expertise to your peers. Help informally mentor other members of those groups.)
Be authentic. This means that you are both honest and true to yourself. You must be able to back up everything in your LinkedIn profile. It should go without saying, but don’t overstate your skills or experience. And when you have a stellar LinkedIn profile that scores you an interview, the last thing you want to happen is that you show up and the real life you doesn’t match your profile. Think about it like an online dating profile that makes a person seem amazing and then they’re a dud on a date. You don’t want to be that person.
Customize your URL. Doing so will make it easier for a potential employer to recall you among many candidates. Plus, a shorter customized URL looks better on your resume when you choose to include it there. Learn more.
Proofread everything. Typos, misspellings and grammatical errors on your LinkedIn profile are similar to those same mistakes on your resume. Those small errors never present you as the professional you are.
Put your new LinkedIn knowledge to use by joining the Marine for Life Network. For more information, click here.