There are some simple things you can do on your LinkedIn profile to make it look more professional and stand out to professional employers. The first simple step to take is to create a custom url for your profile. This will make it look clear when you list it on our resume, as well as in the interaction with your profile. It also makes you easier to find for potential employers. A non-customized url has additional numbers and letters appended to the end of your name, looking something like this: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tom-stammer-m-a-b59485120. When you customize it, it will only have your name after linkedin.com/in making it a cleaner look. It may be a simple step but it’s not really intuitive and LinkedIn buries “how” a bit so following these steps to customize your profile url.
Another simple but not intuitive step to give your LI profile that tech savvy flair is to change your industry. It’s amazing the flood of inbound inquiries my students get just by changing this one simple setting. Use the edit button when on your profile screen to change your industry to “Computer Software”. If you are in tech working on products or aspiring to do that, this is the most closely aligned technology option. Again, simple, but powerful.
For moms returning to the workforce, the dreaded ‘gap’ provides the most trepidation for their profile. The way to handle this is with a few distinctions. Taking action will help you look more professional because you will be able to show you are skilling up. If you are taking a course or a working on a “FREE”lance project as a I recommend in the job you are seeking, that should go at the top. Feel free to leave a gap or list that you have stayed home with your kids. This perfectly valid choice will not “look bad” to employers. On the contrary, if an employer sees your gap and does not want to hire you because of it, this is EXACTLY the information you want to have. You do not want to work for someone who does not support that you have choices in today’s workplace and leaving the paid workforce for family and healthy responsibilities are valid choices. I encourage you to not “cover up” your gap.
With that being said, I think many of you are selling yourself short. If you have volunteer experience or have organized or served on committees or clubs, those are absolutely valid to put on your LinkedIn profile. If they are long-term in nature and represent longevity and commitment, list the most pertinent ones. If you have performed various different volunteer experiences, list “various volunteer opportunities” perhaps adding an organization or sector (e.g., school, education, church, etc.) and then list the most valuable specifics below the title in the bullets. Have you helped a friend or family member with their work or business? List that. Are you taking a course or reading a book on the topic you are interested in entering the field of? List that as well. The key is not to list every single thing possible on your LinkedIn profile. Instead, list every single thing in a Google doc or on a sheet of paper. Step away. Then come back to that list and ask — which of these skills and experience would my ideal employer value the most? That is what you list on your LinkedIn profile!
One final reminder, the more closing linked the top experience is to the job you want to have, the better of a position you are putting yourself in to obtain that job.
Value-add Job Details
The most important part of your LinkedIn profile is not the listing of experiences, but the value you describe about each of those experiences. Take your time write and re-write your bullets under each job description. The way to be most effective here is to write about the value that you provided for that job. What pain did you alleviate for someone? What metrics did you achieve that are impressive? How did you help your team or employer in a new and unique way? Again, the goal is not to write down every duty you have ever had. You should do that in a separate document and then ask that all-important question: which of these skills and experience would my ideal employer value the most?
Do that over and over again, cleaning up old jobs. An internship you had 20 years ago is likely not that relevant. If your first job was with a big name company, you might want to leave that on there but eliminate the job duties. It’s better to list detailed, value-add information for 3–4 job postings and then list only the job title and timeline for jobs that you have after the last relevant 3–4 jobs or experiences. Customize it to your own unique situation, constantly asking, which of these skills and experience would my ideal employer value the most?
In terms of what to include in your detailed descriptions, the most important 2–3 technologies but specific name for the tech job you desire are extremely important. That way employers will be able to search for skills and technologies and have your profile come up. Unsure of what those technologies are? Search 5–7 job postings that interest you and then cross-reference that list to see what the industry is calling for. Of course, you’ll want to acquire those skills and be honest, but assuming that minimum bar, you really only need 2–3 skills and technologies regardless of the entry-level tech job you want. For example, in UX design, you’ll want to list the skills of wireframes and user research and then two specific wirefaming software, like Axure and Figma. If you are a developer, listing 2–3 programming languages will be enough. You don’t need 6–7 different programming languages.
Finally, have 3–4 professionals review your LinkedIn profile and provide feedback. Don’t make any changes until you’ve heard from multiple sources, that way you can compare their comments. Have conflicting opinions? Select the person who is the most successful or has a job most closely related to yours.