As of May 2016, LinkedIn boasts 433 million users, 128 million of which are in the U.S. Even split by field, that is a lot of competition. That’s why LinkedIn profile experts have become so coveted, as their backgrounds in business, marketing and written communication have combined to provide a singular source for maximizing your profile’s potential.
So how can a Linked profile consultant make you stand out on the world’s largest professional networking website?
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Help Developing a Professional Brand
What is a professional brand, and why do you need one for LinkedIn?
Your brand is how you want to be viewed, including your values, unique assets, and field of expertise. It can help to start by thinking of a short slogan of 10 or fewer words. Summarizing yourself this way can help better tailor your LinkedIn profile content.
Begin by brainstorming together with your consultant those few words that define your unique contribution to your field. Perhaps your personal slogan is “Organized and Compassionate Patient Management” or “Timely and Friendly Technology Repair.”
Now that you have a more focused direction, your consultant can help you illustrate examples of your brand. Howdo you provide organized and compassionate care? How have you demonstrated timely repair service, specifically? These are just a few of the numerous rhetorical questions that your consultant will ask in order to differentiate your distinctive approach to your work. Don’t forget to include at least one core value. Your summary and job descriptions will aim to support your professional brand.
Your brand can even extend outside of LinkedIn. All of the framework you receive from your LinkedIn profile consultant can be applied throughout your online and print presence. In fact, keeping a consistent brand—usually through images and brand mantras—across all of your professional social media helps make you more recognizable.
Marketing & Researching for LinkedIn
Believe it or not, even high profile corporate executives hire a professional to write their LinkedIn profiles for them. This is the case for a few reasons.
One, a professional LinkedIn consultant doesn’t need to toy with trial and error, making one small change at a time to test the analytics. They know the confusing ins and outs of LinkedIn’s algorithms, so they can get the job done quickly.
Secondly, they are masters of rhetoric and the ability to market a person by anticipating the needs of their desired readers. For job-seekers, this will prevent the daunting task of “guessing” what a recruiter wants needs in a candidate; your LinkedIn profile experts already know.
Of course, if you’re not intimately familiar with both sides of the employment equation, you can’t really know how to set yourself apart. If everyone says ‘X,’ then to stand out you need to say ‘Y,’ but knowing what the trends are requires a lot of research. Because LinkedIn profile experts spend their entire career poring over résumés and interviewing hundreds, even thousands, of professionals in all industries, they know how to differentiate you from the majority of candidates.
Focusing on Skills and Experience
Another way a LinkedIn profile consultant can help you stand out is careful selection and wording of your skills.
A completed “Skill Section” makes your profile 13 times more likely to be found. The problem is LinkedIn makes users choose from a database of 45,000 (and growing) specific skills, and they will only let you list 50.
Many of the skills you can choose from sound like near synonyms, but when a recruiter is reading your Skill Section, a list of 20 synonyms is off-putting. It may increase your chances of being found when that recruiter searches for a specific word, but it also makes your profile unreadable and crowds out other unique skills. Here again, the experts know how to sort through your skill set and pick the most relevant ones from the database. That may even mean not topping out at 50 skills if that many dampens your professional brand.
One of the other common mistakes people make in their profile summary is describing themselves too much instead of letting their work speak for itself. Instead of focusing on adjectives to describe yourself, a LinkedIn profile consultant can find ways to describe your experience.
Think about it. Does a recruiter sit down and type in the LinkedIn search bar “Motivated,” “Passionate” or even “Responsible?” No—he or she is going to search for specific skills and experience: “Video Editing,” “Statistical Analysis,” “Mergers,” or “Direct Patient Care.” Placing these words strategically within your profile will help you show up in more searches and will avoid meaningless fluff words that readers will skip right over.
Balancing with Personality
In an overzealous attempt to be found in more searches, some users end up stuffing their profile with too manykeywords. It’s often problematic to find a balance, but a LinkedIn profile consultant understands this “golden ratio.”
For instance, it can help to describe a lifelong passion for your field, perhaps even how you first became interested, but you have a limited amount of space. The trick is to introduce your personality as segue to your work history and capabilities. A professional profile writer will know how to portray a personable yet serious candidate.
If you are able to, speaking on the phone or having a video chat with your consultant can be very useful. This allows him or her to get an idea of your professional persona and transcribe it into written content that makes a recruiter feel he or she is truly “meeting” you and not just reading a third party encyclopedia entry about you.
For Those Entering or Changing Fields
Building out a profile for someone with 20 years of experience in the same field is relatively straightforward; but if you’re a new college grad or in the process of changing careers, your profile needs an expert touch to stand out.
College grads need help to make the most of their course projects, volunteer work and extra-curricular activities. This can make up for any perceived lack of experience or ability.
Career changers need to take special precautions. Your work history until recently may demonstrate a completely different skill set. It’s best to focus on general skills learned from these work experiences and how they can be applied in your new field. Your consultant will also be able to tactfully explain in your profile how and why you plan to transition from one career to another.
‘Grabbing’ Recruiters & Hiring Managers
Think of your written profile as a home base. You want to fortify, and even beautify, your home base before going out into the world to invite people in.
That’s why it’s vital to get your profile perfected before attempting to reach out for visibility. A professionally written profile will automatically increase your number of page views by improving your ranking in LinkedIn’s search engine.
Your profile should also appear attractive enough to click, meaning the snippets of information that show when you interact on LinkedIn should draw in readers to click through—and read—your page.
100% Complete Profiles Win
Your consultant can share tips on creating professional images (both profile pictures and banners), starting your LinkedIn Pulse blog, acquiring recommendations and skill endorsements, advertising your profile and dozens more tricks of the trade. Your consultant will be able note any holes in your overall LinkedIn strategy so you can improve your networking potential.
Standing Out with Paid Services
One of the most obvious ways to set yourself apart on LinkedIn is to pay for more visibility.
For example, when you share content on your feed for your Connections to see, you can choose to sponsor it, which displays your post like an advertisement in front of users who are not already your Connections.
LinkedIn also offers premium plans that allow you to contact more users that are less close to your current connections. Sometimes these plans are worth it; sometimes they’re not.
If you are looking to a paid subscription or sponsored content to boost your access to LinkedIn’s job-seeker features, a consultant can guide you to the most effective, cost-efficient plan based on your specific needs. It could be that you don’t need a paid account at all, but instead just need to try adjusting your profile’s geographic location listing first. By trying some of these lesser-known hints, you can avoid getting locked into expensive monthly premiums.
Still on the Fence?
Consider your grand potential payoff.
If you are on the market, so to speak, the investment in a LinkedIn profile consultant is most definitely wise. Even if you don’t obtain a different job with a huge pay raise, a new position with higher overall satisfaction or better benefits is still a big win.
If you’re not currently ready to job-hunt, your expertly written profile can still offer a lot of value, from getting new sales contacts to tracking your accomplishments for year-end management reviews. You can even take the content of your new, improved profile to your boss to back up your request for a raise.
So no matter where you are, you’re going to see a lot of benefit from having a professional consultant perfect and optimize your LinkedIn profile to stand out among your industry competitors.