Time for some real talk: Your LinkedIn profile probably sucks.
I know mine sure did.
If you have one — only 22% of American adults do — you probably haven’t updated it in months, maybe even years.
But a recent comment from one of our Penny Hoarder readers got me thinking: I really should update my profile. And so should you.
Why You Should FINALLY Update Your LinkedIn Profile
I made my LinkedIn profile several years ago, and, except for a few basic job updates, I’ve barely looked at it.
Since I unsubscribed from emails (why does LinkedIn send SO MANY?), the simple act of logging in can be pretty overwhelming. Usually, I see all the notifications and quickly sign off.
But then, I read a comment one of our fantastic Penny Hoarders left on our Facebook page.
We asked, “Do you use LinkedIn? Has it helped you find a job?” — and Amie’s reply was:
Yup. My boyfriend was recruited for a great engineering position and the day he started his job was the same day I received a terrific offer from an environmental construction company who reached out to me via LinkedIn. Neither of us were in the job market at the time we were contacted and our combined income is ~$140k.
They both got jobs from using LinkedIn? Real, live, high-paying jobs? I didn’t know that was even a possibility.
Not that I need a job (‘cause I work at The Penny Hoarder!) — but when I learned people have had success with LinkedIn (passive success at that!), I decided it was high time for a profile makeover.
5 LinkedIn Profile Tips: Stand Out in Less Than 30 Minutes
Improving your LinkedIn profile doesn’t need to take long. A half-hour is all you need to make a huge difference.
One tip: Recruiters use keywords like “sold,” “achieved” and “built” when searching for candidates, so be sure to sprinkle powerful words throughout your freshly updated profile.
1. Customize Your URL
You’ve got a customized URL for your Facebook and Instagram pages — so why not LinkedIn?
It looks more professional (and is way easier to remember) if you make your URL something like www.linkedin.com/in/yourname. Here’s a tutorial that shows you how.
2. Delete That Selfie
How’s your profile photo? If it’s a selfie, or has your buddies cropped out on either side of you, it’s gotta go.
Your photo’s your first impression; make it count.
Nowadays, everyone carries a camera in their pocket, so get outside in some natural light and have a friend snap a few nice, professional-looking headshots.
3. Write a Killer Headline
Other than your photo, your headline is often the only thing people will see, since those are the only things that pop up on search pages. You have a generous 120 characters to sell yourself — use them!
Include your title first, and then consider adding one (or more) of the following:
Strengths: What sets you apart from the other people in your position? This is also a great spot to include some industry keywords.
Services: What can you offer the reader? Consulting services? Custom logo design? Make it known right from the start!
Personality: Show off your humor or silly side. By reflecting your true self, you’re more likely to attract employers who are a good fit.
4. Spruce Up Your Summary
Who are you and why do you rock? Of course, that will probably be difficult to sum up in a few paragraphs, but the summary is your opportunity to try.
To make the most of your summary, William Arruda says, “you must be able to express your personal brand in 2,000 characters and glorious 3D, creating a dazzling picture of who you are and what makes you great.”
Need some guidance on how to do it? I LOVE his detailed strategy.
5. Ask for Recommendations
It might sound scary, but don’t skip this step!
LinkedIn makes it really easy to write and request recommendations. Job search strategist Mir Garvy recommends you have “at least three,” and says one to two recommendations for every 50 connections is a “good guideline.”
To request one from a supervisor or colleague, click on the arrow near your profile photo, and click “Ask to be recommended.” They’ll receive a request; once it’s submitted, all you have to do is click “Add to profile.”
If you’re feeling hesitant, try writing a recommendation for someone first — then ask them to reciprocate.
Woohoo! At this point, your profile should be lookin’ pretty fly.
Ask a friend to proofread it, and when you’re all done, click on “View profile as” to make sure it shows up correctly to your visitors.
Then, who knows? If you’re anything like Amie and her boyfriend, opportunity could come knocking!
Your Turn: When’s the last time you updated your LinkedIn profile?
Susan Shain, senior writer for The Penny Hoarder, is always seeking adventure on a budget. Visit her blog at susanshain.com, or say hi on Twitter @susan_shain.