socially stephanie linkedin advice

Dear Socially Stephanie, 

I am on LinkedIn, but I must admit, my profile could use some work.  I have a lot of endorsements, but they don't seem to do anything to help my cause in finding a job. I am a web designer, and unfortunately there are a lot of us out there.  But I'm special—creative and unique in a tech-y field—and I want people to see that.  How can I make my profile stand out among the other 200 million users?

Designer in Dallas

social media advice column 

Dear Designer in Dallas, 

First of all, props to you! Knowing the power of LinkedIn is the first step to making your profile stand out. Just remember: bragging is encouraged when it comes to LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is one of the oldest social networks out there, and also one of the most important networks for those in the service industry.  With 200 million users in over 200 countries, it's no wonder that over 95% of recruiters use LinkedIn as a recruitment tool. Recruiters aren't the only ones using LinkedIn successfully, either: 75% of the Fortune 100 companies use LinkedIn to find future employees.  

Once regarded as merely a "resume holder," LinkedIn is now anything but that. It's robust and full of new features to help you connect and ultimately shine.  

LinkedIn best practices

The first thing I want you to focus on is making your profile complete.  Did you know that about half of the profiles on the site are incomplete?  It's sad, but true.  Completing your profile will be the first step to helping you get found.  So go do that. 

Now, let's talk about the specifics.  Your headline is going to be über important in your overall persona, as it is the first thing that someone will see about you.  It shows up next to your name, so you'll want to make it catchy—and "Web Designer" isn't going to cut it if you're in a creative field. Give yourself a personality behind the text that defines you.  Think about what makes you special, and incorporate that into your headline.  Do you want to stand out in this male-dominated field? Perhaps "Web Design Diva" is appropriate.  Don't forget to use keywords so that you'll show up in a variety of searches, appealing to more people.  

While we're on the topic of keywords, listen to me, and listen good: keywords will make or break you. There are over a billion searches a year on LinkedIn.  The keywords you use in your profile should cover a wide spectrum.  Start with the highly targeted and filter out to the more generic terms.  Use as many keywords as possible and put them in the places that matter most on LinkedIn—your name, headline, company name, job title and skills will rank the highest.  Use this to your advantage.  LinkedIn allows you to showcase 50 skills.  Use them wisely.  Are you good with PHP?  JavaScript?  Ruby?  Wordpress?  Photoshop?  This is your time to brag!

While it's nice that you have endorsements on your LinkedIn profile, they don't count for much.  In fact, they're kind of like the Facebook "poke": they put the person who endorsed you front and center, but other than that, they don't really add value to your profile.  Recommendations, on the other hand—now those are valuable.  Seek them out.  Ask your past clients to recommend you.  Recommendations validate you as an employee or contractor.  

Lastly, showcase your work through your LinkedIn profile.  LinkedIn recently gave its users the ability to add visual content to their profile page—a huge win for creative professionals.  By adding photos, presentations and videos, you can turn your bare, text-heavy profile into one bursting with color and design.  Another benefit to this new feature is that you can upload an unlimited amount of visuals, which will show up in the summary, work, and education sections on your profile.  Since it shows up as a thumbnail, you won't have to worry about it over-dominating your profile. And this means you can showcase work from each client or past employer.  

Your visual portfolio will give your future employers a place to check out what kind of work you're capable of and to make sure it fits in with their vision.

Good luck!  If I ever need some web design, you'll be the first person I call.


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Illustration by Jesse Wells