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LinkedIn Tips: Update to a stronger profile

LinkedIn's a great resource, but like many assets, it needs your time and attention to continue performing.

Recently I've been helping undergraduate and graduate students at the UNC Schools of Social Work and Public Health prepare their LinkedIn profiles for their job searches.

Here are some of the tips I've been sharing. Check them off to make sure you're not missing any opportunities for your LinkedIn profile.

 A screengrab of Margot Lester's LinkedIn profile illustrating a Word Factory blog post on optimizing your profile.
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Optimize Profile Sections

A.  Headline: 120 characters. Tell us about you that’s unique or interesting. Social justice advocate? Speaker of 6 languages? Or summarize your skills. Anything relevant to the job you want or that will make people want to read more. Include key words that have extra meaning to your audience.

B. Summary: 2000 characters. On the standard browser view, however, your summary cuts off after 270 or so characters. It’s 20-25 for the mobile view (but don’t worry about that).  Make your first 250+ characters a complete idea, if not a complete sentence. Again, focus on the key words that might be used by a recruiter, hiring manager or client looking for someone like you. Bonus points for formatting the summary so it’s easy to skim and scan with strategic paragraphing and bullet lists.

C. Cover Image: It may seem dumb, but no cover image just says, “I was too lazy to do a cover image”. Choose a photo of anything – the front of the School of Social Work, the Arboretum in bloom, your desk. Anything that with a good horizontal orientation works.

portrait of Margot Lester by Marc Borzelleca

D. Profile Photo: Use a professional head shot if you feel comfortable doing so. Some folks fear discrimination based on race or dress and don’t post a photo. Let that sink in for a moment. In 2019, people are still worried about being racially profiled. If you choose not to use an actual photo, you could upload a nicer “silhouette” than the default, or an artistic rendering. Again, tiny detail, but shows you were intentional, not lazy.

E. Other Images. Take advantage of LinkedIn’s willingness to let you post images, slide decks and PDFs to your profile. Use this to show off projects, presentations and other evidence of your skills.

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