Several people have asked "Does it really matter if I have a LinkedIn profile? It seems like a repetition of my resume. Do employers even look at it?"
Yes, it really matters to have a LinkedIn profile. And the best profiles are factually the same as your resume. More and more, employers DO check your LinkedIn profile, and they notice if there is a big difference. That's not a good thing. Employers want consistency.
I know someone who got a job interview and then didn't quite know what to say when the interviewer said "I checked out your LinkedIn profile and it contained very different information from your resume. Can you explain that?" She did her best to explain that she targeted her resume to that specific job. However, she didn't get a call for a second interview. We think it's because of the lack of consistency between her resume and LinkedIn profile.
Here are some suggestions for how to make the most of your LinkedIn profile.
1. I recommend to people that the resume contain more detail than the LinkedIn profile. A great LinkedIn profile will contain the same jobs you list in the resume, with the same dates on both, and it will have two or three bullets listing projects or duties and their measurable impact. The bullets need to tell a quick story for each position. Focus on the most recent jobs.
2. Come up with a meaningful tag line for yourself - not your job title. Your description needs to tell the story of the challenges you love to solve and where you add value. It is the umbrella under which the rest of your profile falls. If you know of key words that are meaningful to potential employers, include one or more of them in that title. For example, one person says she is a "High-Impact Operations Leader and Change Agent" while another says "Executive Management Consulting: Solving the most crucial business technical problems with ERP solutions on SAP platform."
3. Have a photograph that conveys the image you want a potential employer to see. Whether you look buttoned-up, artsy, or casual, always use a head-only shot. The photos are too small for someone to see who you are if you put in a full body shot. And have the photo be of you alone. A plain background is great.
4. When doing a summary, make sure it captures your "core value proposition" - what you do really well, what you want to do again, and the kind of impact you have had. Use measures to indicate the scope of your experience and results. Key words are very useful here, and as my Careerealism.com colleague Joshua Waldman suggests, use NOUNS.
5. "Specialties" is a place to highlight specific skills and areas of expertise, and make sure your profile shows up on searches in LinkedIn that use certain key words. List them using bullets or dashes/hyphens before them. Put them in a list, not a paragraph. Again, list things you love to do, are good at and want to do again. For example, you can say
• Leadership and team building
• People development
• Supply chain management
• Sales and operations planning
- Strategy/business case development
- Full life-cycle technical development
- SAP R/3, ECC6.0
* Program and Policy Development
* Grantmaking and Resource Development
6. Do your homework! I recommend doing sample searches with your key words to see what comes up. I also recommend looking at job postings on LinkedIn to see what key words are used in the postings of jobs you like. Use those key words in your Summary and Specialties list.
7. Draft your LinkedIn profile in a Word document BEFORE you start changing your profile. For one thing, you're probably going to make numerous changes and it's less cumbersome to do it in a word processing program. Also, every update you make to your profile shows up as information on your network's "updates." You can look very disorganized, which is not a good thing. It's good to update your status every week, to stay on people's radar. You just don't want constant profile updates to be the reason people see your name.
There are some great resources on-line regarding what to put on your LinkedIn profile. Here's one at careerealism.com. You also can search for LinkedIn Profile tips and a bunch of resources come up, including at LinkedIn.com itself.