Post an appropriate photo.
That's one key piece of advice from LinkedIn experts, who say that revisiting and tweaking vital sections of your LinkedIn profile can boost the impression you make online, regardless of your status as a job seeker.
Chris Brown, director of talent solutions for LinkedIn Canada, says numbers prove the value of tidy headshots – profiles with images get 20 times more views. Conversely, profile photos with distant shots, cartoon avatars, and photos with pets may decimate your chances of attracting a potential employer.
Correcting the visual misstep is one of several ways to boost your presence on the professional network, which has grown since inception in 2003 to more than 530 million users from 200 countries.
Here are a few more:
Summary and headline
Your summary is the best place to sell yourself, so make all 2,000 characters count. Mr. Brown recommends creating an informal recap of your professional trajectory.
"Write what you enjoy about your line of work, what you want to represent as a person, not just the job you're in today," he says.
All the experts recommend writing in first person, formatting with short and easily skimmed paragraphs, and proofreading for spelling and grammar.
Koula Vasilopoulos, district president for Western Canada at staffing agency Robert Half, suggests visiting profiles of those you respect in your industry for inspiration.
LinkedIn trainer Leslie Hughes adds that job postings can also be helpful sources.
"Look for your dream job and see if you can't find similarities and keywords and weave them into the story," she says.
Use keywords in all sections, and again for the job you want as well as what you have.
"I include at least one prominent keyword in the headline, the summary, and past positions," she says.
At the same time, be aware of overused words. LinkedIn has released its annual list – the top three are "specialized," "leadership" and "passionate."
Headlines are crucial. Bruce Powell, managing partner at Toronto recruiter IQ partners, recommends moving beyond the job title to insert a value proposition.
"Figure out what makes you unique. This is your ultimate first-sell line and it should be very much a value statement," he says. Ms. Vasilopoulos adds that if your official title is obscure, such as "Class 2 analyst," include a more common term such as, say, "IT manager."
Experience and updating
In your experience section, add detail that goes beyond your employer name and dates. "Communicate what makes you unique, how you've contributed, how you're over-delivered and how you helped your company achieve its objectives," says Mr. Powell.
Quantify performance with sales numbers or other concrete details.
Ms. Vasilopoulos adds that if you have long tenure with a company, list your various promotions, and update regularly. "A couple of times through the year, it's a good idea to reflect on key accomplishments and incorporate them."
Recommendations, networking, visuals and updates
If you are already at "superstar" (LinkedIn's highest level of completion), you can still do more. Seek out recommendations to help provide what Ms. Hughes calls "social proof" of your performance.
Expand your network with suggestions from the tool and by searching for names you know. While opinions abound on how well you should know potential connections, experts unanimously recommend that you warm up connection requests with a personalized note.
Mr. Brown adds that active job seekers especially should "follow" companies they're interested in, as recruiters can see interactions with their company pages.
Mr. Powell says that hiring managers will also check out your connections to see who you know in your industry. "It's a referral economy: People like to validate their comfort levels with individuals based upon their connected community."
Adding visuals including images, PowerPoints, work samples and video can all make your profile stand out. Especially if you are looking for a job, a video bio can help, says Mr. Brown. Ms. Hughes agrees, adding that even smartphones can create adequate video, but pay close attention to the lighting and sound to avoid looking amateur.
In the long term, writing posts and sharing content can also help develop your voice and brand. "The benefit is that a hiring manager can see what they're writing about and believe in. It helps build a picture of people's expertise, so if you're passionate about what you do, write about it," says Mr. Brown.