Telling the Right Story in Your LinkedIn Profile

Your LinkedIn profile is an opportunity to tell your professional story. This is valuable in the job your are in, as it lets customers and potential customers understand your value. It is also helpful if you are looking to change jobs, as recruiters use LinkedIn heavily to look for and vet potential candidates.

Your profile should change as you reach milestones in your career. It should also change as your list of key accomplishments grows. At every stage, you need to make sure your profile is forwarding-thinking and builds the case for the next job you want to have.

Following are some thoughts for each stage of your career. Note that if you have 30 years as a plumber and are working to build a career in fashion, you should create your profile using the guidance for the years of experience in the field you want to be in.

Before you dive in, you will want to refresh your list of the keywords that are most relevant to your profession and your immediate goals. The words and phrases that represent the most important skills do change over time.

1–3 Years of Experience

At this point in your career, you should be highlighting your enthusiasm for the work you want to do, your engagement within that field, and your abilities to organize, problem-solve, create, execute, etc.

Include pictures of yourself at industry events. Include any relevant projects, presentations, and other items related to your interests and industry of choice.

Share and comment on current articles or conversations related to the field.  Follow relevant companies and influencers.

4–7 Years of Experience

Now it is time to remove details about your schooling and work experience that is not directly related to the work you want to be doing. It is no longer relevant that you flipped burgers to help pay for college, unless being a fast food manager is your career aspiration.

Now you can focus on your experience, work products, and  proven skills. Highlight these in your profile headline and summary as well as in the most recent role in your professional experiences section.

Keep in mind that past positions are hidden away with a “see more” option and most people won’t bother to click this. Your current job description is central to your profile so make sure it communicates loud an clear about who you are and your value.

Keep it all short and easy to scan. Lengthy paragraphs won’t get read on LinkedIn or anywhere online.

8–15 Years of Experience

Now you want to highlight your leadership ability and your specialized skills. Promotions and job offers come to people at this level who won’t need a lot of training and who have a healthy, relevant professional network.

Drop old work samples in favor of fresh items that show what you are doing today and reflect the next level that you want to achieve. Keep building connections with influencers.

Publish articles on LinkedIn that are relevant to your field and demonstrate your thinking as a subject matter expert.

Ask for recommendations for people in your focus industry or field. Recommendations speak to your professional value, but they also demonstrate that you are active and connected. Take time to identify the best people to make recommendations and ask them personally, either by phone or email.

16 and More Years of Experience

Make sure your profile tells a cohesive, compelling story about your skills, experience, and professional passion.  Drop items that are not central to who you are and what you do now.

Focus on sharing your thought leadership, in posts to groups, in comments on posts created by others, and in long form articles on LinkedIn. Be the leader that you are.