Nick, What Do You Look for in a LinkedIn Profile?

Far fewer people will view your resume than will view your profile. Therefore, the importance of your LinkedIn profile in your job search and career management is much greater than your resume’s. 

While LinkedIn profiles and resumes have a lot in common—both should be highly targeted and keyword-rich, with concise, quantified accomplishment-oriented bullets—there is one significant difference that makes LinkedIn the King of job search tools: LinkedIn gives you unprecedented visibility to be found by recruiters and hiring managers, as well as other professionals in your field looking to network.

The second reason your LinkedIn profile’s importance to your job search and career supersedes your resume: Thanks to the multiple AI writing tools now available, anyone can write a “great” resume. Consequently, a great resume has become common and, therefore, is no longer impressive.

Employers still find impressive LinkedIn profiles that lay out a compelling career story of how the profile owner added value to their employers, a digital footprint that evangelizes expertise and being an SME (Subject Matter Expert) in a relevant industry activity or subject and interview skills demonstrating ability to effectively communicate, being a forward-thinker, and fitting in with the employer’s culture.

Would a hiring manager hire someone on the strength of their LinkedIn profile? I cannot speak for all hiring managers, but I can speak for myself. Yes, I would, and I have. A few years back, when LinkedIn was still an infant, I hired a candidate who did not follow the job posting’s instructions to send their resume. Instead, they sent me an email bullet pointing their experience and results and invited me to view their LinkedIn profile. 

It is not uncommon for rogue job search techniques to pay off. 

Why employers and recruiters still ask for resumes baffles me, especially since they will review your LinkedIn profile to assess whether you are interview-worthy. Fingers crossed, as more millennials and Gen Z take on hiring responsibilities, redundant steps, such as asking for resumes and viewing LinkedIn profiles, will be eliminated, thus streamlining the hiring process.

Imagine a hiring process where candidates are merely asked for a letter explaining their interest in the position, what they can bring to the table and the link to their LinkedIn profile. (Unfortunately, AI writing tools can also write great letters, which diminishes the value of a “great letter.”

Whenever I review a candidate’s LinkedIn profile, I look for the following:

  • A profile picture. 

I will not bother reading a LinkedIn profile without a profile picture. Is this person a serious job seeker? What are they hiding? 

If a candidate cannot see the value—according to LinkedIn, profiles with a photo receive 21 times more views and nine times more connection requests—of having a professional profile picture, I question their judgement. Hence, are they someone I would want to hire?

Mind-blowing, I meet job seekers whose “logic” allows them to post numerous selfies and videos on their social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok) while refusing to upload a LinkedIn profile picture for fear of discrimination as if employers will never meet them face-to-face during the hiring process.

  • Profile background

Your LinkedIn profile background is prime real estate for making a memorable first impression and showcasing your personality.

As with not having a profile picture, if a LinkedIn profile does not have a profile background or one that is generic, I wonder whether the candidate is a serious job seeker.

Using a free-to-use online graphic design tool, you can create a LinkedIn background that captures attention and makes your career story stand out. Canva is my favourite; however, there are PhotoRoomAdobe Express and Foter, to name a few.

  • Summary

If a candidate’s LinkedIn summary does not sell me, I will not spend more time on the profile.

The summary section is where you define yourself. It is also a critical LinkedIn profile section for search engine optimization (SEO) and professional branding purposes. A strategic approach to writing your LinkedIn summary is essential to building connections and catching the attention of hiring managers.

An important concept in job search and career success is this: people hire, buy from, and are influenced by people they like. Regular readers of this column will recall I have written several times that likeability supersedes skills and experience. Your LinkedIn summary is your digital area to showcase your personality and professional experience. 

The best time investment you can make regarding your LinkedIn profile and job search is to write a summary that will make the reader say to themselves, “I got to meet this person!”

  • Clearly defined positions

Position titles do not tell me what you did or how you achieved measurable results. A summary of your responsibilities and examples of results achieved must follow each job title. Do not expect me to guess what a Brand Evangelist or Organizational Psychologist does. If your LinkedIn profile does not mention that your social media management skills helped gain over 15,000 new Instagram followers or that you were the top three sales rep for four consecutive years, how will I know?

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Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers “unsweetened” job search advice. You can send Nick your questions to artoffindingwork@gmail.com.

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