Your LinkedIn profile is one of the most powerful career assets you have. It’s your professional portfolio—a multimedia representation of who you are and the value you deliver. And in our new all-the-time, all-virtual world thanks to Covid-19, your LinkedIn profile has become your first impression. What’s more, your LinkedIn About section (formerly called your Summary) will be the most read version of your bio.
In today’s uncertain times, it’s more important than ever to stay on top of your LinkedIn profile and to refine it regularly so it’s always relevant and compelling to the people you want to reach. You also need to stay on top of the myriad refinements and new features LinkedIn adds to the platform so you can instantly benefit from them and ensure your personal brand stands out and clearly differentiates you from the hundreds of millions of other LinkedIn members.
LinkedIn’s latest blog post references many of the most recent changes. The ones I highlight here will be most valuable to you as you build your brand and make a positive, authentic first impression online.
Let people know you’re open to new adventures.
With the new OpenToWork photo frame on your headshot, you can alert those who are checking you out that you’re ready for your next big gig. I’m thrilled that LinkedIn added this. Before this feature came along, many who were seeking work used their headline to tell others of their availability with a statement like “Ready for my next adventure” or “Seeking New Opportunities.” This created two challenges. First, it sounded a little desperate, and second, it reduced the number of characters available in your headline to tell people who you are, what you do and the value you create when you do it. This new format is a little more subtle and creates consistency across the platform for those who are in job-seeking mode. The words in your headline are important in the LinkedIn search algorithm, so you want to use exactly the right keywords to reel in those who are looking for what you have to offer. Luckily, you no longer have to waste those words by telling people you’re looking for work.
Help people pronounce your name.
LinkedIn allows you to create a recording of your name pronunciation and attach it to your profile just to the right of your name so those who want to connect with you don’t have to guess how it’s spelled or say it and then ask, “Did I get that pronunciation right?” It can only be added in the mobile app. Here’s how it looks (and sounds) once you’ve done it.
Shine a spotlight on your best work.
LinkedIn has allowed you to add multimedia to your profile for years now, but they enhanced this feature recently. Before, you could add multimedia to the bottom of your About (and to the Experience section of your profile). Now, they’ve created a whole new section called Featured, where you can put your most relevant and up-to-date images, videos, PDFs, etc. to augment and reinforce what you say about yourself in your About. And it has been given some really important real estate, appearing in a large panel right below your About. Being a completely new element of your profile, the Featured section serves as a dynamic billboard of items you can showcase to demonstrate your brilliance. Update it regularly so it remains current and relevant.
Use more characters to tell your story.
LinkedIn also increased the character count of important elements of your profile. This allows you to be a bit more robust in telling your story. The new headline count doubled from 120 characters to 240, and the new About increased from 2,000 characters to 2,600. Of course, don’t use the new characters just because LinkedIn is giving them to you. You still need to make sure every word you include is potent and delivers value to the reader of your profile. Prioritize pithy over pompous, but use as many characters as you need to make people want to get to know you.
Stay on top of LinkedIn features and take advantage of them as soon as you learn about them. Building your brand and advancing your career in the virtual age means building a current, authentic and magnetic online profile that’s congruent with the real you.
William Arruda is a founder of CareerBlast and co-creator of BrandBoost - a video-based personal branding talent development experience.