Recently, we’ve looked into almost two hundred Linkedin profiles belonging to people who took part in our surveys. The purpose of the research, carried out by an expert with many years of experience in the field of developing a brand on the job market, was to ascertain whether social media profiles on the abovementioned sites meet market standards. Persons taking part in the research received analyses of their profiles along with suggestions for possible changes. The research also gave rise to some general conclusions and guidelines in the scope of keeping a profile on Linkedin. In this article, I would like to share these conclusions and guidelines.
A photograph isn’t a crucial element of your profile, however, it is recommended that you have one. It can have a positive impact on the general perception of your profile, however if not taken by a professional, it can have the opposite effect.
In order for the picture to look professional, you should, of course, take care to look well groomed and well dressed, at the same time keeping in mind your surroundings. The best choice will be a working environment, office, or a neutral background that will not affect the photo’s perception. Pictures taken in eveningwear, family photos with children or taken at parties are generally not perceived as well. Your potential employer expects their employees to behave professionally and be able to separate their private and professional lives.
Most of the profiles examined during the research had a profile picture. In most cases, these were fully professional, we had no reservations about them. Profile owners seem to have no problems in this respect.
Not everybody knows that Linkedin allows for a profile to be kept in two languages. This option is available in the profile view, at the right side:
If your goal is to maximise the profile’s exposure and have it displayed after typing phrases in different languages (e.g. Polish and English), it’s worth to use this function and have two language versions of your profile. Remember that not all recruiters work with the Language you keep your profile in. If a recruiter is used to searching for candidates in English and your profile is in Polish, they may not find it at all. Additionally, if a recruiter is looking for a person who can communicate fluently in let’s say, English, they will naturally focus more on searching out and analysing profiles kept in that language.
The profiles we analysed were slightly skewed towards Polish, with profiles in English being kept mostly by people working in the IT, SEO, and, for example, Fintech industries.
A career summary is one of the most important elements of the profile and at the same time one that is most often neglected. It is an element that should include key information about your previous achievements and the current direction of your professional development, as well as indicate the positions you’re interested in at a given point in your career. One common mistake is to abridge professional experience in the summary section or omit the direction of future development.
A lack of summary or one that does not include the abovementioned information may make it more difficult for the recruiter to make the right decision, particularly if the description of your professional experience, included further down in the profile, is also incomplete. This results from the fact that other parts of the profile speak only of the history of your professional life and don’t have the space to indicate the direction you’re interested in taking. The summary can therefore indicate for example: the industry, position, and scope of obligations you’re interested in. Additionally, this is a good place to describe your main competences and strong suits. The professional summary is the place to put your creativity to use to present yourself from your best side and indicate the direction of development you’re interested in. It’s not uncommon to have professional experience show one thing and plans for the future be completely unrelated.
While preparing a professional summary, it’s worth to consider this element from one more perspective. Namely, it is a place where you can use words that do not fit with the other parts of the profile and which will help display it in search results, should the recruiter look for potential candidates using these particular words. In this sense, you should regard words as key phrases or even hashtags.
Let’s assume that you work at a production company as an engineer. However, you would like to develop professionally not only as an engineer, but also in the field of establishing business relations. In general, you like to interact with people and feel like sales is your strong suit. Additionally, you know several sales engineers, you know what this line of work entails, and decided that you would like to give it a shot. This intention is a good example of information that you will not place in the professional experience sections, but should definitely include in the professional summary. Therefore, it’s worth to write a few sentences about you seeing your own sales potential and your next professional challenge being to start working as a “sales engineer”.
“Sales engineer” will be the key phrase that will let your profile be seen by all those searching for candidates for this position. It’s worth to include such key phrases in your profile in the exact way the recruiter will enter them in the search engine. In this particular case, it would be good to write “work as as a sales engineer” instead of e.g. “work in sales engineering” in the professional summary section. I’m not certain how correct it would be in other languages, but it’s certainly correct in terms of the intended function of the phrase. A question remains, whether Linkedin will even display profiles where the phrase “sales engineering” is used if we type in “sales engineer” in the search engine – from what I remember – confirmed by a quick test a moment ago – it seems that it will. Did any of you test this thoroughly?
Most important information that should be included in this part is of course your employer (and all the previous ones), position, exact (at least to a month) date of beginning and ending your employment, and a detailed description of your day-to-day duties.
A detailed description of duties in any position provides a wealth of knowledge for recruiters and allows them to quickly and accurately evaluate your profile in terms of their recruitment project. Along with a well made professional summary, the scope of duties is the most important element of your profile. It’s the place where you inform everyone what exactly you were doing in individual positions, and therefore, what exactly is your professional experience. You should remember that in different organisations, a position of the same name can mean something entirely different. It’s therefore worth it to describe your professional duties as widely as you can without fear of exaggerating. It is best to apply the rule that writing too much is preferable to writing too little. You should remember that the recruiters suffer more from having too little information than from having too much of it.
Position: Business Development Manager. Responsibilities: Generating sales leads by cold calls, cold visits, participating in fairs and conferences, and preparing and executing email campaigns. Market monitoring, both in regards to customers and competition. Proposing a sales strategy in regards to the company’s services. Independent implementation of the agreed upon sales strategy and authorisation to negotiate and enter into sales contracts. Responsibility for achieving predetermined quarterly and annual sales targets. Work on the basis of predetermined KPIs. Reporting to the Business Development Director. Recruitment and training of the sales department employees.
It’s also worth to add tangible effects of your work at a given position (e.g. increasing sales by 15%, average target achievement of 120%, effective introduction of a new product on the market, decreasing costs connected with sales processes), as well as the awards and distinctions you achieved.
A lack of a description of a position often disqualifies your profile in the recruiter’s eyes, who will quickly move on to another, properly filled in, profile. You need to remember that the devil is in the details, and a precise description of the scope of duties brings those details to light (at least in part), which will greatly simplify profile analysis and increase the probability of the recruiter contacting you with a properly tailored job offer. Therefore, you shouldn’t be surprised to receive unsuitable offers or none at all, if your profile isn’t described adequately.
This element of the profile is usually filled-in perfectly, basic information about education is included in practically every profile. At the same time however, it is a very simple element that doesn’t require long descriptions, as well as relatively unimportant to recruiters. My professional experience as well as research we did in that respect indicate that the education field is considered unimportant by profile owners and recruiters both (links to research below). Of course, this doesn’t mean that this part of the profile should be left empty. Graduating from a tertiary education institution is often a standard and it’s worth to show that you maintain this standard. It’s unusual, but you can find employers for whom graduating in a given field of study or from a particular school is a necessary requirement.
Having skills confirmed by co-workers is definitely overlooked. From the recruiter’s perspective, this is not an error, because it’s not an issue that only depends on the profile’s owner, but it’s definitely worth the time and effort to develop this element. A recommendation may be seen as an advantage over other potential candidates, so it’s not worth it to underestimate it. A recruiter sees the possibility to have competencies confirmed by other people as extremely valuable. I mean, it’s only natural that we are more likely to trust people and companies that have been recommended to us by other people. If it turns out additionally that the recommending party is someone we know, the value of such a recommendation may increase dramatically.
The differences between LinkedIn profiles and CVs we recruiters receive are steadily decreasing. Linkedin standardises profiles so that they include all the information usually found in CVs. Of course, a text editor will still give you a lot more freedom in the scope of creating a CV, however for 95% of people, the format offered by Linkedin is sufficient. For a recruiter, a Linkedin profile has several huge advantages over a CV: (1) it is standardised, in contrast to various methods of writing a CV, (2) it shows mutual contacts which make it easier to obtain additional information about the person we’re looking into, (3) it more often includes recommendations and usually shows a larger scope of skills.