Get the basics right
Let’s start with the most obvious. There must be no spelling or grammar errors on your profile. This is a simple matter of trust: employers will be thinking that if you can’t be careful while writing your own profile, how likely is it that you will be careful and conscientious while working for them? And remember that it’s always difficult to spot typos in things we’ve written ourselves, particularly just after writing them. Use spell checkers and software like Grammarly, wait a while to review your work before putting it online. You can also ask a friend to check it for you!
Pick the right picture
Your picture will probably show up quite small on the screen of whoever is reviewing your profile, so make sure you’re not standing in the distance. Choose a picture focusing on your head and shoulders if you can. Likewise, use a simple background so that you are not drowned out on a small screen. If you need to, ask a friend to take a picture of you in your business attire. Standing against a white wall is completely fine – you’re not trying to win any photography awards, but just trying to add a human touch to your profile. And don’t use selfies!
Bear in mind your experience level
You might be wondering how much experience you should list, and how far back you should delve into your past – a classic dilemma for resumés in general. Ultimately, this depends on the stage you are at in your career.
If you’re just coming out of college or law school and you’re applying for your first graduate job, it’s completely acceptable to list part-time work you’ve had while studying or extracurricular student activities. Employers understand your lack of experience at this stage and it’s great to draw out any skills you’ve gained from what you have done, even if it doesn’t seem strictly relevant (like experience in customer service from working at a restaurant while studying). On the other hand, if you’re trying to make Partner then firms probably won’t be too interested in your Saturday job as a student. Keep this up to date as your career progresses and make sure you’re focusing more on your most recent experiences.
Show, don’t tell
A general tip for resumés and LinkedIn profiles alike is that – as all good authors and screenwriters know – you should ‘show, not tell’. Don’t tell employers you’re driven – anyone can say that. Show them your drive by listing experiences where you’ve gone the extra mile to get a project done, and let them draw the implications. Not every quality is easy to show in this way, but this is a maxim to bear in mind where you can.
Keep things current
Did you make a LinkedIn profile in 2016, before forgetting about it and never looking at it again? You’re not alone. But guess what – that profile is still out there on the internet, reflecting your career to any employer who comes looking. My guess is that things have probably moved on at least a bit in your career since then. Make sure employers and recruiters are looking at the most up-to-date version of you.
With a bit of care and attention, online career profiles can be a good resource. Avoid these simple mistakes and yours might just be that small thing that helps take your career to the next level.