We’re all probably looking forward to a new year after the events of 2020. Many of us have seen significant changes to our working lives. This is why adopting a new approach can be key in finding and securing your career goals as we move into 2021.

As a LinkedIn profile writer and trainer with a 14-year history in recruitment, Karen Tisdell explains how to put together a winning LinkedIn profile and the benefits this can have for your career.

What are the benefits of a good LinkedIn profile?

1. It gives you access to recruiters

You might not have explored LinkedIn in much detail to date, or you might be completely new to the platform. But it has taken on a much greater significance during 2020 than ever before as the pandemic made in-person networking impossible. As a result, LinkedIn use in Australia grew by 27% during the second quarter of 2020.

LinkedIn is the world’s largest networking space, and more and more hiring managers are turning to the platform to find the people they need.

2. It lets people know about your skills

If you want to attract new career opportunities, people need to be aware of your areas of expertise. This isn’t bragging – it’s simply explaining your skills and experience so recruiters and hiring managers can see that you are an ideal fit for a particular role.

LinkedIn lets people search for particular keywords, the same as a Google search. If you include the right keywords in your profile, you will appear in search results every time a recruiter is looking for someone with your particular project management skills and experience.

3. It raises your profile within your industry

Attracting higher profile contracts is something many of us strive for. This is more easily achieved if you can show you have the qualities of a leader in your industry, which means raising your online profile.

One of the advantages of LinkedIn is that search engines love it. If you Google yourself, your LinkedIn profile will be one of the first results. This gives people an easy access point to find out more about your skills, experience and specialist areas.

How to craft a winning LinkedIn profile

Creating a LinkedIn profile that works for you does not need to take up a lot of your time or involve extensive research. I’ve been writing LinkedIn profiles for project managers for 11 years, so I know what works. By following these simple tips, you’ll achieve a profile that demonstrates you are the right person for the contracts you want.

1. Rethink your Professional Headline

Aside from your name and photo, your Professional Headline is the only part of your profile that is immediately visible in LinkedIn search results. You have 220 characters to grab people’s interest here – simply listing your job title is not good enough.

The Professional Headline is the part of your profile that is the most heavily weighted when it comes to the importance of keywords. Choosing the right words here is essential if you want to show up in recruiters’ search results for the right kinds of contracts.

This means you need to think about the terms people will search for. For example, don’t just include the job title Project Manager, think about alternatives such as Program Manager and include those, too. You should also list your industry and keywords related to it.

Put yourself in recruiters’ shoes. What problem do they want to be solved? The aim is to capture that in your Headline through using the right keywords, proving that you’re a great fit for the job.

2. Explain who you are in your About section

Your About section is the place where you can show people the value you can offer them, that your competition can’t. State clearly how you can make their lives easier, for example, by explaining how you solve problems using your particular skills and experience.

It’s important to be authentic here as potential recruiters want to get a sense of who you are from your profile. Always write in the first person and try not to use language that sounds too distant or passive – words like ‘able to’ or ‘responsible for’ as this does throw doubt on whether you achieved outcomes.

You also need to be aware that only the first 330 characters are visible on a desktop above the fold. Users will need to click ‘See More’ to read the rest. For this reason, the most effective About sections begin with a question or an intriguing statement, something that captures the reader’s attention and ignites their curiosity.

3. Avoid doubling up on Skills

Your Skills section provides that all-important social proof that you have the know-how to deliver on your promises. It also impacts your search rankings, which is crucial if you are to be found by customers or investors.

Take the time to go through the skills you have listed and consider deleting those that are similar. If you have both ‘leadership’ and ‘management’ on your profile, for example, all you’re doing is diluting your endorsements.

4. Build your Experience section to reflect your objective

Your Experience section cannot be left blank – this is where you detail the main achievements of your career. Nor can you just copy and paste your resume here as you will then remove any reason for people to reach out and suggest an interview.

Instead, you need to focus on positioning the things you have done and achieved, listing the scale of the project, how much it was worth and other information that is relevant enough to be interesting, but still leaves the reader wanting to know more.

It’s also important here to think about what you want to achieve. Keep a clear objective in mind, such as the types of contracts you want, and only include details relevant to these contracts.

5. Use the Media and Featured sections to highlight key messages

The Media and Featured sections are often underutilised. You can use them to enhance your skills and experience and build a stronger online reputation.

Media can be relevant to each job listed in your experience section. Include evidence of your business successes, such as awards, presentations, videos, and web links.

Then, use the Featured tool to push your highest-value media front and centre.

6. Make the right impression with your background banner

Your background banner has a lot of prominence on your profile. So if you have not yet replaced the LinkedIn default background, you’re not going to stand out and you will not get noticed.

The image you choose needs to reflect your industry and what you do. Do not use a beach scene – this will give the impression that you would prefer to be on holiday! Remember, this is all about achieving your professional goals. You can find some great free, non-copyrighted images at Unsplash if you don’t currently have a suitable image yourself.

7. Make sure everyone knows how to say your name

Not all of our names are straightforward. LinkedIn has a handy name pronunciation feature, and it’s worth using this to make sure everyone gets your name right. On any mobile device, you can record the pronunciation of your name, and this can then be played back by anyone, on any device, including desktop.

This will help to make you even more memorable and help people to feel more familiar with you.

Look forward to new opportunities

Spending a few hours crafting a winning LinkedIn profile is a great investment of your time due to the opportunities it can bring you.

Always remember that a great profile reflects you at every stage, so it’s worth updating your profile every three to six months to make sure your skills are up-to-date and the keywords you are using are still as relevant as possible.

We’re all feeling optimistic about what a new year can bring – LinkedIn can make it work for you.