Extreme Makeover: Take Your LinkedIn Profile from Awful to Awesome

5 Steps Towards Creating a LinkedIn LinkedIn Profile

There’s a lot of talk about LinkedIn, its 225+ million members and its power to connect people with opportunities. And, there’s really no arguing with the fact that many employers cite LinkedIn as having an impact on hiring. The “world’s largest professional networking site” truly serves as the platform for identifying jobs, networking opportunities, recruiters, hiring managers and decision makers. Then why, oh why, are there still so many people with mediocre-at-best profiles? I reviewed a lot of LinkedIn profiles this week to bring to you some strong examples and meaningful tips.


First step, take a decent picture.

Profiles with photos garner more attention. And, the picture should be of just you (not you with your significant other — this isn’t Facebook after all). I’ve also seen profile pictures of people sleeping and drinking. Is this the first impression you’d want to make? My photo is just OK. I’d really like to update it with a better one. In the meantime, here are some folks who have great profiles pics:

Kathryn Minshew (The Muse)

Dan Black (Ernst & Young)

Anna Runyan (Classy Career Girl)

Next, jazz up your headline.

The headline is prime real estate and a great place to brand you. “Who are you,” is the question it should answer. Your header can be up to 120 characters (with spaces) and is also searchable by others.

Go ahead! Pepper in some relevant keywords.

    Examples of notable headers:

Kerry Noone: Employer Brand Manager at Amtrak – building a talent community through digital marketing.

Jessica Lee: Many Marriotts, one brand. It’s everywhere you want to be. Learn more at www.marriott.com/careers.

Jim Stroud: Director of Sourcing and Social Strategy at Bernard Hodes Group | I train, I speak, I blog a lot.

Try customizing your contact info.

You can include up to three websites on your profile. Instead of using the default “company website” or “personal website,” customize the links by first selecting “Other.” Then, enter a short description, followed by the URL. This helps extend your brand name and creates stronger messaging.

Write an engaging summary.

When it comes to summaries, I have seen some people write about themselves in the third person. That, to me, seems strange. In real life, we don’t refer to ourselves that way. Why do that online?

LinkedIn is a place to showcase your talents and share your voice, and the summary is a great way to capture the attention of your readers and encourage them to want to read more. Here are some quick summary tips:

You can use up to 2,000 characters … so take advantage of the space to tell a little bit about your story.

Make it easy to read and scannable by using paragraph breaks.

Include a call to action so that people know if and how they can connect with you. I recently added a CTA to my summary that will (hopefully) encourage job seekers to connect with me if they are interested in my company.

Infuse some personality and fun into your summary.

Summary examples to check out: Maren Hogan, Gerry Crispin and Mira Greenland.

Add links to create depth.

A fairly recent feature on LinkedIn is your ability to link to visuals from your profile. This visual content allows others to gain a more well-rounded perspective on who you are and what you offer. To spice up your page with visuals, go to “Edit Profile.”

Visuals can be added under your Summary, Experience and Education. Just hover over the plus sign (+) and then either upload a file or add a link. Once your content is added, you can also edit the caption under the image.

Follow these quick steps and you are well on your way to taking your LinkedIn profile from awful to awesome.What other advice to you have for individuals looking to spruce up their online presence? How can job seekers stand out – to the right people — more via LinkedIn?

Shannon Smedstad

Shannon Smedstad has nearly 20 years of recruitment, employer branding, and communications experience. Currently, she serves as the Principal Employer Brand Strategist at exaqueo. Previously, she held employer branding and recruiting leadership roles at CEB and GEICO. She’s a work at home mom raising two awesome girls who also enjoys reading, running, leading a Girl Scout troop, and her morning coffee. You can connect with Shannon on LinkedIn and Twitter.


Pin It on Pinterest