When it comes to changing your career, there can be a lot of unknowns. You won’t always know when your dream job will be posted. You won’t usually know who else is applying. And you won’t necessarily know what the manager is really looking for.

But one detail you can have some control over is how you present yourself online, specifically on LinkedIn. More and more companies are looking for qualified candidates on this career networking platform.

If you don’t have any standout information about yourself online, hiring managers will often move on because it’s almost guaranteed that your competition does.

These days, it’s imperative that you have a strong LinkedIn profile. So, I put together my 7 best tips that are tried and true after testing and researching over the years. Check them out, and let me know in the comments which ones you commit to implementing this week.

1. Look Professional in Your Profile Picture

Professional doesn’t have to mean a stuffy business suit, but it should be the best version of you in a simple setting.

What does that mean? No selfies. No adventure shots. No group photos.

Instead, have a friend snap a shot on a phone, wear a nice top, and smile. It’s best to get it in natural lighting, like next to a window, with a neutral background. Crop the photo to focus mainly on your face… a warm smile is a portal to who you are, and people will naturally feel more connected to you and view you as more courteous and competent.

Your photo is the first thing people notice when they find your page, so you want to leave a good impression.

2. Write a Solid Headline

Your default headline on LinkedIn is your job title and where you work. When I worked in marketing, it was “Senior Marketing Specialist at Thrivent Financial,” but that didn’t tell anyone specifically what I can contribute professionally.

If I were writing that headline today, I would focus on what benefits I bring to a team. What’s in it for current or future employers?

Here are some powerful examples that include strong action verbs and descriptions:

Provides Strategic Leadership in Content Marketing

Strategic Leader of Content Marketing Strategy

Strategic Thought Leader and Relationship Builder

Did you know your LinkedIn headline shows up in Google results? Utilize keywords that show you’re the right person for the job.  

3. Write a Fantastic Summary

According to William Arruda, your summary is the most important element of your LinkedIn profile. Before you start writing, he says that your summary must answer three questions.

What do you want them to know about you? What do you want them to do? How do you want them to feel?

From there, you can start piecing together the aspects of your experience and personality that you want to highlight.

4. Ask for Recommendations

In times of uncertainty, we often look to what other people are saying or doing in order to make the “right” decision. In psychology, this is called social proof theory.

Hiring managers are usually nervous about making the wrong choice, so they look to recommendations for personal insight into candidates’ experience. LinkedIn actually shows them who you have in common, too, and you never know when you will have a recommendation from someone they know.

Even if they don’t know the people who have recommended you, it improves your chances of getting an interview (and maybe even the job) by providing some evidence of how awesome you are. Be bold and ask colleagues or friends to leave recommendations in return for you doing the same for their profiles.

5. Personalize Your Link

You’d be surprised by how many people don’t take the time to change the link to their profile... or don’t know that they can! Personalizing your link boosts your SEO, which makes it easier for hiring managers (and Google) to find you.

It also looks good on your resume. You want to make it easy for hiring managers to find you online, and a personalized link is much simpler to type into a web browser than a bunch of random numbers and letters.

6. Connect with Everyone You Know

You never know when an aunt knows an important so-and-so, or a friend of a friend works with the manager who’s hiring for your dream job. Remember to network in all directions. By that, I mean build relationships with people of all ages and backgrounds… diversity is key to learning about (and landing) an amazing job.

One mistake I often see people make as they advance in their careers is forgetting to connect and build relationships with people who are younger than them or have experiences that are different from their own. Curiosity is mandatory for continued success.

7. Research Keywords

Keywords aren’t just for businesses that care about search engine optimization. They are also beneficial for your LinkedIn profile because they demonstrate your expertise around specific tasks and work.

Check job postings that you’re interested in; look at profiles of people doing what you want to do. What words and phrases continually come up? Work those into your headline, summary and the descriptions of your positions.

A Bonus Tip...

And arguably the most important: Proofread, proofread, proofread. It goes without saying that there should be absolutely no grammatical, spelling or other silly errors on your profile.

Have several friends or family members review it for you to ensure that there aren’t any typos, misspelled words or rogue commas. Grammatical errors in your profile decrease a hiring manager’s confidence in you and odds of hiring you.

One of my favorite parts of what I do is helping people get the jobs they want, and that includes researching and implementing the best practices in successful LinkedIn profiles. Want me to look at yours? Click here to schedule a free 15-minute consultation with me, and I’ll give you three personalized tips to boost your profile.