First, before you do anything to your profile, stop. Hover over the tiny picture of yourself in the top right of the screen. From the dropdown menu, choose Privacy & Settings, then Privacy Controls, and then Turn On/Off your activity broadcasts.
Once on that screen, uncheck the box, and begin your LinkedIn power session. You have now turned off your activity broadcasts so that the world does not receive an “update” every time you muse about a pithy new headline or change “attorney” to “associate” to “lawyer” in your summary while you edit it over the next hour.
The Dreaded “Summary”
Okay, now let’s look at that Summary section, shall we? If you don’t have one at all, you definitely need one. Look around at the profiles of some professionals occupying desirable roles (to get ideas – this is a great chance for you to try out the advanced search feature). Now draft up something in broad strokes that is still able to grab the attention of the most jaded recruiter, and including the right amount of keywords. A daunting task I know, but one that you, my eager job seeker, are ready to tackle.
Get Out that Magnifying Glass and Red Pen
Once you have your summary perfected, it’s time to go through the rest of your Profile with a fine-tooth comb. You should generally have the outline equivalent of your resume (with one or two sentence job descriptions) in your profile, and of course, it should be up to date. It goes without saying, I hope, that there can be no mistakes.
Next, take a look at your Headline. It probably currently consists of the name of your current (or former) employer, which is the default setting. However, you can make it so much more interesting, and throw in some keywords, just by thinking about what you do (or something closer to what you want to do) rather than what your position is. So, instead of “Associate at X Firm,” you could promote yourself as an “Intellectual Property Litigator and Advisor/ Copyright & Trademark Specialist.” Just think of the possibilities!
Skills, Make ‘em Count
Now you are ready to move on to take a look at the Skills section. Are there any skills there that were randomly assigned by LinkedIn, but not really that important to your Profile? You can either get rid of them altogether or move them to the bottom of the list. Go through each of your skills and get rid of anything unimportant, then drag and drop them into order of most to least important. Keeping this Skills section lean will make sure you get endorsements for skills that are actually meaningful to you and will make you appear more focused. Honestly, do you really need endorsements for your Westlaw knowledge once you’ve been a partner for 10 years? I don’t think so. And a final note, please remember recent ethics opinions advising that accepting endorsements for skills you don’t actually have could constitute advertising. Additional incentive to keep this section lean and mean.
A final thought, you really do need to have a professional looking photo on your profile. If you can’t use the one from your work website, have a friend take a picture of you in a suit. You just need to look professional; you don’t need to actually use a professional headshot. And, please remember: this isn’t Facebook.