Over the course of my resume writing career, acting as a resume writer to a huge client base throughout Calgary, I've often advised the need for professionals in Calgary to add a LinkedIn profile to their career marketing strategy.
Although most employers still require traditional resumes, a LinkedIn profile can be an active complement to your resume and provide added insight into your professional network in Calgary and beyond.
Many people simply don’t make use of their profile space. What’s the point in having a placeholder profile with no summary, bare bones information, and no obvious representation of your capabilities? Are you hoping to be contacted by friends? Join Facebook. Do you want to connect with potential hiring managers or peers? Then give them something to work with. Give them a reason to reach out and connect with you, or accept your connection request.
Choose an Appropriate Profile Image
LinkedIn is akin to a non-stop virtual networking mixer. Would you wear a mask to a networking event in person? Not likely, so use a current headshot on your LinkedIn profile. Few things diminish your credibility like having no picture or an image of something besides your smiling face.
Make your Headline Pop
As the most prominent piece aside from your picture, the headline is a hook that should pique the interest of potential employers & colleagues. Like any intriguing headline, yours should offer a preview of you, without giving it all away. Headlines can only be 120 characters, make your words count.
Pay Attention to the Summary Section
It is essential that you craft compelling commentary for the Summary section of the profile. This is where you take control of the message. Don’t give the reader an opportunity to skim straight down to your employment experience. At that point, they’re forming snap judgements about the type of company you work for, the level you’re at, the length of time you’ve been there and then you’re relying on the first two or three bullet points of the first entry to sell yourself.
You need to OWN the message in that summary section – sell them on who you are, what you’ve done, and what you can NOW do for them. Yes, it’s a sales pitch – and even though you may not be looking for a job, highlighting your key skills, abilities, and accomplishments won’t do anyone any harm.
As LinkedIn is all about first impressions, draft the first paragraph to highlight your top skills or accomplishments and include just enough biographical information to humanize your profile. For example, compare the following two examples:
•"I have been serving clients well for many years with XX brokerage"
•"As a 10-year veteran of the financial services industry in New York, I have highly developed knowledge of current regulation, a talent for identifying emerging markets, and a sincere devotion to my clients' success …"
In the second example, you discover this person has at least a decade of experience, is local to New York, and claims expertise in three areas of significance to his or her industry.
Experience Section: Details Matter
Much like the body of a resume, the experience section is where you detail work history and experience. Mind the details and make sure the dates, titles, and names accurately reflect your resume or CV. Recruiters will likely check your LinkedIn profile and will be wary of inconsistencies.
Add photos and links to online content to both the experience and the summary sections. Portfolio pieces, images and YouTube videos that show you giving talks or presentations will help your profile carry greater weight than descriptions alone.
Of course, having a knock-out LinkedIn profile may lead to questions from a colleague or employer as to why you’re looking so stellar on LinkedIn, however if the goal isn’t to look great then what’s the point?
Just be careful not to divulge commercially sensitive information on your profile or you may find yourself in breach of confidentiality clauses or at the wrong end of a telling-off. Unless otherwise cleared, you should avoid using financial metrics (I made the company $10M this year in XYZ market), avoid disclosing pending deals, products, or technologies, and otherwise avoid giving your employers competitors any kind of commercial or competitive advantage/information that could lead to any kind of loss.
Participate in Groups
Networking is easy when you join groups that discuss areas of your expertise. Participate in conversations and show your expertise through involvement, not self-promotion. Ask intelligent questions, share interesting content and offer specific examples when you discuss your personal experience to foster connections.
Interact with Peers
Aside from groups, interact with your personal network regularly. Endorsing your peers for skills, making intelligent comments on material they share, and thanking them when they endorse you are effective ways to connect. Recommendations are another key element, so be sure to give them and request them regularly. Remember that interactions are often reciprocal in that you receive when you give.
Stay Active and Engaged
Like most social networks, the key point of LinkedIn is to show you are active and engaged in your industry. With interactive examples of your work and the chance to learn more about you as a person, LinkedIn can be a powerful tool to raise an employer's interest.
With effective networking, your profile can even bring offers to your doorstep.
Whether you need the services of a professional resume writer or not, you should consider updating your LinkedIn profile to make sure it reflects the true value you can offer an employer.
Ken Docherty is a Certified Master Resume Writer, Certified Executive Resume Master, Certified Professional Resume Writer. Ken assists clients in Calgary and beyond in developing a professional resume.