Interesting guest post by Darain Faraz.

With more than a million Irish professionals now using the platform, simply having a LinkedIn profile no longer cuts it when it comes to seeking out the best career opportunities.

Whether you’re a grad looking for your first job or a seasoned professional, using LinkedIn to its full potential can help you become more successful in your career. Need proof? Professionals boasting an ‘All-Star’ rating on their profiles are 40 times more likely to receive and find opportunities through LinkedIn.

There are seven essential elements to having a completed profile. In order to qualify, your profile must contain the following:

· Industry and location

· An up-to-date current position (with a description)

· Two past positions

· Education

· Skills (minimum of five)

· Profile picture

· At least 500 connections

But to go one step further and stand out from the All-Star crowd, your profile needs to be more than just an online CV. Think of it as your digital shop window that displays a portfolio of your work and accomplishments.

LinkedIn’s Darain Faraz shares 7 steps to perfecting your profile:

1. Upload (the right) photos

Profiles with a professional photo are 14 times more likely to be viewed by recruiters, leading to more connections and greater visibility in your industry. Do keep it professional, so you might want to skip the family pics or a profile picture with your dog…unless of course you are a vet or work with animals in another capacity.

In addition to your profile picture, add a background image. This is a nice touch and can help you weave a consistent story.

2. Pack a punch with your headline
Your headline is the first thing a potential employer will read, so make sure this is attention-grabbing and reflects your professional identity. Succinctly explain what you currently do and if you’re looking to do something else – and don’t mind your current employer knowing – don’t be afraid to state it here.

3. Claim your URL

Customise the URL below your headline to increase your search results and make it easier to direct people to your profile (particularly useful if you have a common name). A customised URL also looks great in email signatures and on business cards.

4. Don’t neglect your education

Listing your school or university is especially important if you’re a student or recent graduate, because fellow students and alumni are a key part of your network and you want to show up in search results. If you don’t have any work experience yet, listing relevant coursework, volunteer experience, or extracurricular activities will show employers what you’re about.

5. Showcase your skills and experience

As well as listing your skills, consider what you’ve achieved, delivered and learned in each of your positions.

Think carefully about the language you use, as overused words and phrases can make you sound like everyone else. For example, if you want people to know you’re ‘driven’ try including examples of specific projects that show how you’ve gone above and beyond to achieve something. Demonstrate your ‘creativity’ by uploading images, presentations or design portfolios – this will help bring your experience to life.

6. Request recommendations

Nothing beats praise from colleagues and employers, so let others do the talking for you. It’s easy to ask others to endorse you on LinkedIn, or give former colleagues a recommendation to encourage one back. This is a powerful way to prove your value, so aim to have a couple of recommendations for each position you list.

7. Round it out

Finally, remember to list any personal interests, volunteer work or causes you care about as this will round out your professional identity.

Join the conversation by engaging with groups. This is a great way to meet likeminded people and make new connections, as well as sharing your expertise and opinions which will demonstrate your personality and help set you apart.

Darain Faraz is Head of Global Consumer Communications at LinkedIn.


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