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With over 396 million members, LinkedIn is one of the largest online professional networking services in the world. According to recent statistics, it lists approximately three million jobs and is used by 87 percent of recruiters to source and research candidates.

If you are not on LinkedIn, you not only missing out on a great opportunity to further your own personal brand, but you are also missing out on the opportunity to network with fellow professionals and increase your visibility among the executive search community.

executive_linkedin_profile_tipsFor those new to LinkedIn or those wanting to boost their existing online presence, below is a section-by-section guide to creating a highly effective and optimized LinkedIn profile.
 

1. Your LinkedIn Profile Photo

The most important point to be made about your LinkedIn profile photo is this: You need to have one. If you don’t have a profile photo you are 14 times less likely to be viewed on LinkedIn. When a photo is not uploaded, it can lead to distrust, with the viewer wondering what the candidate is hiding. If you don’t have a professional photo on hand, it is better to take one on your smartphone than to leave the space blank.

When taking or selecting a photo for your profile, you should make sure that the photo is squared and includes your head and shoulders. You should also be dressed for the role and industry of the opportunities you are trying to attract. Casual, personal photos are fine for Facebook, but if you want to work in a formal, professional environment, it is vital that you help recruiters visualise you in that environment.
 

2. Your LinkedIn Headline

It is said that the three most important components of your LinkedIn profile is your name, your photo and your headline. The reason why your headline is so important is because it signals to executive recruiters and potential employers what you do and what your goal is.

You need to make sure that, for this key piece of personal branding, you are representing yourself in the best possible way for your career objectives. Many executives erroneously use empty phrases to fill this section, for example “Experienced business professional,” but these phrases are ineffective. You need to use this section to highlight your function and can give one further piece of information, such as your industry or current career goal.

The key to writing a good LinkedIn headline is the use of keywords. These are the words which help you appear in search results when recruiters, hiring professionals or future employees search for candidates. You have a 120 character limit, which is more than enough to incorporate all your industry/function specific keywords.
 

3. Your LinkedIn Profile Summary

For this section, LinkedIn allows users up to 2,000 characters to create a summary of your career highlights, skills, contact information and message. Start with the most important elements of your career history that you wish to focus on and maximize the space given.

As mentioned in the section above, the summary is also a great place to add those vital keywords to make sure it is search engine optimized for recruiters and potential employers. Some people even choose to add these keywords at the end of their summary in the form of a list, such as “Key Skills and Experience,” which can be a great way to include them all without making it sound too forced in your copy.

It is also important make sure that it is written in first person. Your LinkedIn profile summary is supposed to tell your story, and so having a profile written in third person will distance yourself from the reader.
 

4. Your Current and Past Job Descriptions

This is your opportunity to explain your role and elaborate on the value you have added to each organization that you have worked for, including your return on investment and your unique selling point. The space available on LinkedIn in this section allows you to go beyond what is said in your resume/CV and to provide different and more details information.
 

5. Your LinkedIn Recommendations

Recommendations from past and present colleagues can carry a great deal of weight when being assessed as a candidate for a new opportunity. Therefore, it is advisable to start accumulating them before you need them. The best way to convince someone to write a recommendation for you is to write one for them first. LinkedIn allows you to write one recommendation per day to a first degree connection, so make sure that you manage your time well and target those who are most likely to sound impressive and reciprocate.
 

LinkedIn can be an excellent career tool for executives pursuing new opportunities, creating a personal brand, becoming an industry thought-leader and connecting with fellow executives and recruiters. If you would like a professional executive LinkedIn profile writer to review your profile, login and view our career services page today.

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