Your LinkedIn profile is a virtual handshake. Even if we do not, in fact, shake hands as much as stock photos would imply? It’s the first thing recruiters see and it’s your chance to make a great first impression. Still, many people neglect to update or optimize their LinkedIn profiles. They call me (or attended my LinkedIn webinar) feeling lost. “Where do I even start?” they ask.
The LinkedIn Profile Status Quo
It’s not hard to look at a LinkedIn profile, even if it’s our own, and understand its flaws. Most LinkedIn profiles? Well, I’d most definitely describe them as “flawed,” but not because it’s broken. It’s flawed because it does nothing to make the person stand out. THey do the same shit the same way everyone else does.
News flash: You stand out by *not* doing exactly what everyone else is doing. You’re not going to make an impression with a profile that looks like a laundry list of keywords. It’s by actually telling your story.
I need you to hear me when I say this. Who you are matters. What you love matters. What inspires you makes a difference. If you know that recruiters are reading all of this content, the story you tell matters, but unfortunately, that’s not what most people do.
Understanding Your Reader
Instead, they create a bad LinkedIn profile. It doesn’t talk about passion or tell a story. It is a keyword-optimized list of someone just trying to make someone else click. And that’s not going to happen when 200 people are applying in a really short period of time.
That’s why it’s important to understand your reader before you do any writing. Start by considering who your reader is and write for that person. Consider what’s happening in their world and the problem they are trying to solve.
Oh, and one fact I know to be true of pretty much anyone looking at hundreds of profiles a week? Their attention span is short. That means you need to stand out in a very, very short amount of time. How long do you think people spend reading a LinkedIn profile? On average, the answer is about 20 seconds before they decide if you’re moving forward or not.
They have another 199 resumes to review. That means recruiters are using tactics for speed and they only have a few seconds to use your LinkedIn profile to determine if you’re qualified. They’re going to scan across the top, they’re going to scroll a little bit, scan again, and then they’re scrolling to the next profile if you don’t make the right impression.
Two Ways To Upgrade Your LinkedIn Profile
If you want to stand out, there are 2 things you must do: make it specific and tell people how to contact you. Think about the Instagram content that you go out of your way to read. Think about the LinkedIn posts that you like. You like them because they’re about real people and their real emotions and what’s actually happening in their life. It’s not because they share a list of buzzwords.
You are allowed to be yourself. Tell your story, but make sure to be specific. A recruiter must be able to see the scope and scale of your work quickly. That means they can answer the questions: what industries have they worked in? What scale of company have they created impact at?
You should be explicit. You’re not looking for a “great team” where you can do X, Y, and Z. Tell them: “I’m looking for a marketing manager job at a tech company that’s doubling. I thrive in this environment because..” Don’t be afraid to explicitly state what kind of work you want and what kind of company you want to work for either.
Then, tell people how to contact you on your LinkedIn profile, especially if you don’t check your LinkedIn messages. Include your email address. Your phone number. Explicitly state the best way to contact you. Feel free to note that you prefer texting and do not listen to your voicemails. If you aren’t sure where to put your contact information, put the info in your about section.
Go ahead, update your profile. Or hell, have me rewrite your LinkedIn profile for you. Purchase your 1-1 LinkedIn rewrite session here.
Kat Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive job postings that will get the right person to apply faster.
Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster, Care.com, and Randstad Worldwide. With 15+ years of recruitment marketing and training experience, Katrina knows how to turn talented recruiting teams into talented writers who write for people, not about work.
Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. They’ve been named to numerous lists, including LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search & Careers. When not speaking, writing, or training, you’ll find Katrina traveling the country in their van or spending some much needed downtime with the dogs that inspired the name Three Ears Media.