At Underdog.io, we spend a great deal of time looking through job applicants’ backgrounds. One thing we notice is that time-and-time again, a candidate’s LinkedIn profile needs work. If you’re looking for a startup job, your LinkedIn should reflect it.
After all, your online image is crucial to building the reputation that you want for your business or the business you’re working for. With that in mind, here are seven ways to improve your LinkedIn profile.
1. Don’t be clichéd
Your ‘Professional Headline’ shouldn’t mention that you’re looking for “Finance & Accounting” positions. It shouldn’t include frustrating buzz words (e.g. “I’m a self-starter looking for a creative work environments”).
Going one step further, LinkedIn’s headline suggestions are bad and should be avoided. Please do not use the word ‘Visionary Entrepreneur’ unless you can actually see into the future.
If you’re an MBA, don’t put it in your ‘Name’ or ‘Headline’ (e.g. ‘John Smith, MBA’). MBA’s are not a badge of honor in the startup world. Don’t believe me, see here and here.
2. Add an appropriate image
The Ladders did a study tracking eye movement of recruiters while looking at a LinkedIn profile. No surprise, the recruiters spent 19% of their time looking at someone’s profile photo. It’s not a beauty contest — just take some time and add a photo that isn’t frightening. Need help with this? Donna Svei, from AvidCareerist, has some LinkedIn photo tips.
3. Pick an industry that makes sense
If you already work at a technology startup, this should be easier. Pick something that indicates you work in technology, not something that indicates you work in a specific vertical. For example, if you work at a fashion startup, choose ‘Internet,’ or ‘Computer Software’ instead of ‘Apparel & Fashion.’
If you’re transitioning into the startup world, it’s understandable that your industry is specific to your current job. Just be aware that it might turn off some hiring managers or founders. Try to find industries that could cover a broad swath.
By our account, here’s a list of acceptable industries if you’re applying for a job at a startup: Internet, Computer Software, Information Technology & Services, Information Services, Computer Networking, Computer & Network Security, Computer Games, Computer Hardware, Investment Banking/Venture, Venture Capital.
Change your public LinkedIn URL
It still surprises us how many people don’t know what their public LinkedIn URL looks like. This is your public URL:
In order to change it from some long string of characters to a more manageable domain, do the following:
Go to your LinkedIn profile. Tap Edit.
Tap Edit again.
Two/thirds of the way down, see this:
Tap the pencil. You’ll end up with a new form field to make changes to your public URL.
This is the link you should use whenever you share your LinkedIn profile.
5. Don’t add too much info
There is such a thing as TMI on a LinkedIn profile. What types of information are too much? Do not include every relevant class you took in college, especially if you’ve been out of school for three years or more. Do not include inordinate amounts of info under each job.
We just need enough to know what the company did and what you mostly did. And, if you recently took a Linda, Coursera, or Udemy course, think about the message it sends before adding it (e.g. if you’re a self-described ‘Marketing Professional,’ I’d expect that you don’t need to take a Udemy course on Marketing).
5. Don’t skip over the endorsements section
Endorsements on LinkedIn have gotten a lot of flack since they launched back in September 2012. I’m not going to argue for/against them. Sure, they can be gamed and often times, you get endorsed by someone who you’ve never met in person.
What I will say is this: Endorsements help internal hiring managers tasked with hiring technical candidates. I may not know what Scala is, but if I’m told to hire a Scala developer, I can quickly scan a LinkedIn to see if a developer has been endorsed for that skill. That’s why endorsements matter.
6. Get creative with your interests
This is your time to shine. Pick interests that are actually interesting. If you pick ‘traveling,’ ‘cooking,’ and ‘sports,’ you’re doing yourself a disservice. The more specific you get here (within reason), the better off you are for someone to take notice.
7. Pick your (public) groups carefully
If you’re one of these people that joins many LinkedIn groups, make sure you uncheck the visibility settings. I’d tend to stay away from publicizing divisive LinkedIn groups (religious, political, etc.). If you’re applying for a startup job, most hiring managers don’t need to know you’re a member of the LinkedIn group, ‘Horse Crazy!,’
That’s it! If you have any questions, leave them in the comments below and I am happy to discuss!
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