Mastering LinkedIn CommunityAccording to LinkedIn, only 50.5% of people have a 100% completed LinkedIn profile.  Being complete is very important; it makes it easier for people to find you, because your profile “lands higher” in search results.  To quantify this, users with complete profiles are 40 times more likely to receive opportunities.

A complete profile will set you apart from the crowd.  According to LinkedIn, this complete profile should include:

A professional-looking profile photo – Add a picture to your profile; it will makes your profile 7x more likely to be found in searches.  Everyone has at least one good photo of themselves – whether it be color, black and white, or even sepia. Any nice headshot will work ; just do not use one of you at a raucous party having more than a good time.  Remember the point of LinkedIn is “professional networking”.

A headline – There is the option to have a headline section on your profile (next to your profile picture), which includes not only the headline, but your location and industry.  Make your headline something descriptive and interesting.  If your job title fits the bill, use it; otherwise use the key skills that you possess.  A completed headline section is important, because:

1)      When the LinkedIn search results are listed, your name and headline are the only things seen before a person decides to click through to your full profile.

2)      Many recruiters/hiring managers will not scroll down (past the “fold”) to view a full profile.

A complete job history – Add your current position plus the description (a title is not enough) and two past positions.  Recruiters typically do not look at any older jobs.  Just having your 2 most recent positions makes your profile 12x more likely to be found.

Skills and Expertise – – LinkedIn recently revamped their profile scoring algorithm.  More emphasis is now being put on “skills” (vs. “recommendations” where you have very little control over what others say).  You should list at least 3 skills; however, do not make them up.  Make sure that they appear on the dropdown menu that LinkedIn provides.  Doing so will make your profile more searchable.

Education – Enter your schooling, including high school (really dependent upon your age; after a certain point, no one cares), college, post-graduate, and significant professional qualifications.  Include accurate dates, because LinkedIn will match you with other alumni who are also on LinkedIn, allowing you to reach out and renew old connections.

50+ connections – Work towards at least 50 connections.  Make it a habit to ask for connections from  people you deal with (not just random people whose profiles you fall across) on a weekly basis.  You never know when a contact will come in handy.  I once located a new writer through a LinkedIn connection of a realtor friend.  You just never know.

Other criteria that do not impact your “complete profile score”  but should be included:

Summary – Filling out the summary is crucial if you want your profile to pop up in search results.  In addition, you want to include keywords and search terms that are related to your job or the job you want.  This will make you more likely to be found by others who are in a position to offer assistance.

Recommendations –  It is important to have recommendations, but not just generic recommendations.  Ask people who can directly speak to your qualifications for recommendations.

LinkedIn-InBug-2CContact information – Add your contact information so that recruiters can contact you.  This means adding a professional-sounding email address, and a customized public LinkedIn profile URL.  It will be much easier for others to remember than

As a final note…

Update, update, update.  As with dairy products, freshness matters.  Be sure to update your profile frequently in order to keep your “complete profile score” up as high as possible.

Almost 80% of users state that LinkedIn has helped them research people and companies.  When you apply for a new position, the recruiter will research you and the first thing she will do is “google” your name.  Your LinkedIn profile will pop up in the results of that inquiry.  Your ultimate goal is to have the recruiter think highly of you if that profile is the first and only thing that she looks at.  So take the time to make your LinkedIn profile as clear, as enticing, and as impactful as possible.

By Christiane Soto,

NOTE:  A full-color, downloadable PDF is available