LinkedIn 101: The Basics to your Online Profile

The LinkedIn Series, Part One: The Basics
As a recruiter, LinkedIn is my go-to tool. And that makes me part of the 90% of recruiters who regularly tap LinkedIn to research both candidates and companies. Why? It gives me an instant snapshot, it’s easy to find and it’s credible. The bonus? A good LinkedIn profile helps me accomplish my candidate write-up in a flash.

But I don’t always find great profiles.

In fact, I tend to find either very little–no picture or no profile or no career summary–or I find too much, which includes a copy and paste of a resume that’s exhausting to read.  A LinkedIn profile should be a snapshot of your best work–a summary, rather than a play-by-play of your career path, and a description of not just hard skills, but soft skills as well.

While your company or professional website is more of a destination, LinkedIn is a storefront on a main street, where everyone is driving by. So make it shine.

Here are my top five LinkedIn essentials:

  1. A Professional Smiling Photo:  A picture adds warmth and relatability to your profile. And it helps people determine if you’re a cultural fit. A professional headshot is definitely the way to go. Selfies are too casual and vacation pictures are absolutely off-limits. Statistics show that a smile gets more clicks and keep in mind that your face should take up 65% of the frame. Also–consider your industry when choosing your outfit.
  2. Savvy Titles: Your most current title always goes first on a LinkedIn profile, but then consider adding a few more. What do you actually do at your job? What do you specialize in? What distinguishes you from your peers? Are you good at building consensus? Or are you a master listener?  Are you more of a detail gal or do you focus on the big picture? Other ideas might be: Email Marketing Expert. Technology Guru. Dedicated Mentor. Peaceful Disruptor. A few good titles will leverage search engine optimization and allow the reader to understand your skill set at a glance.
  3. A Well-Written Profile Summary: Aside from your titles, this is the most critical part of your LinkedIn profile. A profile summary must include three essentials: a finely-tuned pitch, professional credibility and a personal touch. A finely-tuned pitch includes a short statement about your philosophy or belief in your work, clear number of years experience in your field and a summary of your experience. Professional credit includes a brief list of companies or clients, two to three of your proudest career accomplishments and ideally, a couple metrics. A personal touch on a LinkedIn profile includes specific passions you may have outside work like sports, collections, hobbies, continuing education and non-profit support. It’s a great way to connect at a human level with a potential employer.
  4. At Least 100 Connections: Like it or not, your network matters. Remember that companies are seeking thought leaders who are active in their community and industry. Whenever you meet someone new, make it a habit to connect on LinkedIn. And don’t forget about all the people you’ve met in the past. You’ll be surprised how quickly they add up.
  5. Clear Contact Information: This is simple but so significant. Don’t make it hard for me to reach you. If you’re in job-seeker mode, be sure to post your resume in your uploads and include your phone number, email address and website in your LinkedIn Contact Info section.

Bonus Tip for Job Seekers: Follow people, thought-leaders or companies you want to work for. It’s just a simple click of a button, but it accomplishes three things: 1) It helps keep you abreast of your favorite company’s relevant news items, which is great for the interview; 2) It sends you job notifications based on your profile; 3) It becomes part of your public feed, so it demonstrates your interest and activity to a potential employer.


~Tessa Walsh is an account manager with PeopleSuite and brings more than a decade of recruiting experience to the table, including five invaluable years spent in HR. She is passionate about motherhood, donating to first responders and ice cream on the last day of school.

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