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5 Simple Things You Can Do to Improve Your LinkedIn Profile

Alyssa Bereznak
National Correspondent, Technology
Yahoo Tech
Job seekers waiting to be interviewed

LinkedIn may seem like the saltine cracker of social media networks when compared to the celeb-saturated Twitter app or your gossipy Facebook feed. But when it comes to real-life payback, it could be just the thing to get you a brand-new, shiny job.

As easy as it is to neglect your LinkedIn profile, you should at the very least do a few basic things to keep it in fighting shape. Otherwise, you risk being passed over for opportunities that you might just be interested in — or even worse, missing out on important professional connections that might be helpful in the future.

Below, five simple ways to spruce up your page: 

1. Get a profile picture. A good one.
No matter how qualified for a position you may be, no employer will be tempted to click on the generic outline of a human head that sits as a default for anyone who hasn’t bothered to upload a photo.

According to Crystal Braswell, manager of corporate communications at LinkedIn, adding a picture of your gorgeous face could result in 14 times more profile views than if you hadn’t. 

Alyssa Bereznak's LinkedIn profile

That being said, any old image won’t do. Don’t use a selfie, or anything shot using a cheap camera. And try to avoid the pixelated, obviously-cropped-out-of-a-group-photo portrait that’s so unfortunately common on Facebook. Choose a high-resolution image that’s just you, in a relatively conservative outfit, looking happy. Because people like working with other happy people.

If you don’t have a photo like this, ask a friend to take one. Some surveys have indicated that, for a sizable percentage of recruiters, it’s sometimes the only thing they look at.

2. Write a summary.
You may loathe writing self-summaries, but on LinkedIn, these little paragraphs can be particularly helpful for optimizing your searchability, according to Braswell. In other words, if a recruiter types in “advanced Swahili speaker” and it matches the keywords you put in your profile, you’ll automatically pop up on her results page. 

LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner concurs. “Your experiences, your skills, your ambitions, what it is you ultimately want to accomplish — that’s increasingly how people are finding you,” he told The New York Times’ Thomas Friedman in a recent interview. “For the vast majority of folks, when someone searches your name on a major search engine, your LinkedIn profile is showing up at or near the top of those results.” 

Don’t just reiterate the experience you’ve listed in each job. Use the summary, which should be at least 40 words to seem substantial, as a chance to make you seem like a well-rounded adult human and not some piece of recruiter meat. Braswell recommends discussing your life passions, interests, and goals.

3. Add pretty graphics and videos.
There’s a simple button that allows you to add some pizzazz to your otherwise-vanilla LinkedIn profile. Below your summary and each position, you have the option to add a link or a file. This is an opportunity to link to something awesome you worked on and load it into the site for everyone to see. You can also add videos, keynote presentations, or PDFs of research projects or papers.

For instance, I added a link to my Yahoo Tech author page under my position, so anyone can browse my work.

And now it looks like this:

As Weiner told The New York Times, “the LinkedIn profile is now essentially your LinkedIn portfolio. Take a general contractor who previously would’ve been describing the dream house they just built. Now they can upload imagery or video.”

This feature is especially helpful if you happen to be in a creative industry that values your artistic or design skills. “Rich media becomes another way to visually differentiate yourself and show people exactly what you’re capable of,” Braswell told Yahoo Tech. “It presents a 3D view of you as a professional versus a two-dimensional view.”

4. Tell the world what a good person you are.
In a survey conducted by LinkedIn, 42 percent of hiring managers said that they felt volunteer experience was pretty much the same as work experience. So if you’ve been helping design fliers for a friend’s nonprofit, or spending weekends at your local homeless shelter, make sure to mention it. The rest of us will find it in our hearts to forgive you for your humble bragging. 

5. Endorse to be endorsed.
Whether you think it’s just meaningless back-patting or not, having endorsements for certain skills on your profile makes you look impressive. “They are an additional signal that reaffirms your skills and areas of expertise for anyone viewing your profile,” Braswell said. Just look at this pyramid of stuff that it looks like I can do! (I’m actually illiterate). 

So if you have a past or present co-worker whom you respect and want to show some love, just take a moment to visit his profile. Usually there’ll be a button that encourages you to endorse him for something, anything. Odds are he’ll return the favor. At the very least, it’ll make your profile look fuller and more complete.

That’s about it! Now sit back and watch the profile views roll in.

Follow Alyssa Bereznak on Twitter or email her here.