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LinkedIn has rapidly grown into the dominant online network for professionals. It’s a venue for you to be found by executive recruiters and potential employers, a great way for you to extend your professional network, and the perfect forum for building your online visibility and showcasing your expertise.
 
It’s essential to make your LinkedIn profile as powerful, professional, and distinctive as possible. If yours is incomplete, weak, or simply a reiteration of your executive resume/CV, use these tips to make sure your profile is helping, not hurting, your career transition:
 
1. Make it personal:
Your LinkedIn profile is not your executive resume, so don’t simply copy-and-paste the profile from your CV into the summary field on LinkedIn. Instead, write a summary section that describes who you are, your most notable achievements, your areas of expertise, and your unique intangible qualities and attributes. Write in the first person, using the word "I" as appropriate, to make the message personal. Be inviting and friendly! Your language, tone, and content should make people want to know more about you.
 
2. Highlight your most notable achievements:
In your summary section and in the appropriate job blocks, be sure to communicate your "success stories." The more specific you are, the more credible and memorable your profile becomes. Choose stories that have the biggest "wow" factor, are relevant to your current career management goals, and illustrate (specifically!) what you have done for employers in the past.
 
3. Use all available space:
LinkedIn has a strict character limit for each section. In the critical top portion of your profile (the headline and summary), use every character and make every character count! In your headline, include your branding statement or key areas of expertise. In your summary, write a rich and interesting profile that paints the precise picture you want others to know about who you are, what you can do, and what you have done.
 
4. Load with keywords:
Headhunters and employers use keywords to find candidates with the right mix of skills and experience. Make sure that your LinkedIn profile contains all the right keywords to match the jobs you are pursuing. Many of these terms will appear naturally in your profile and experience sections. In addition, the specialties section gives you additional characters that you can jam-pack with more keywords that match your expertise and interests.
 
5. Be strategic:
Strategy should drive every decision about every word you include in your executive resume or CV and in your LinkedIn profile. Who are you? How do you want to be perceived at this point in your career? What roles are you pursuing? What aspects of your background best fit your current goals? Resist the temptation to include everything you’ve done. You want to paint a cohesive picture that makes it easy for people to understand you, your expertise, and your value.
 
Your online presence is a critical component of your career management strategy, as it’s common practice for search consultants, employers, and network contacts to Google you for more information. Because LinkedIn has great search engine rankings, it is often the very first listing that people will find when they conduct a web search.
 
Louise KursmarkThis article was written by Louise Kursmark, Director of BlueSteps Executive Career Services (BECS).

One of the leading career experts in the U.S., Louise works exclusively with senior-level executives in career transition—helping them "tell their story" in a way that is compelling, memorable, and relevant. Louise is the author of 20 books on resume writing, interviewing, and job search; was the first person worldwide to earn the prestigious "Master Resume Writer" credential; and is a six-time "Best Resume" award winner. In addition to her private-practice work with executives, Louise trains and educates other career professionals as co-founder and director of the Resume Writing Academy and the annual Career Thought Leaders Conference and Symposium. She also directs BlueSteps Executive Career Services (BECS) and hand-picked the team of writers and coaches providing premium services to BlueSteps members.

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