How to Tell Your Career Story in Your LinkedIn Profile

careerstory onLILast week I noted that it’s important to tell your career story in many ways (in print, online, and verbally) and in many places (resume, LinkedIn profile, bio/marketing brief, cover letter). In this three-part blog series, I previously showcased ways to highlight your career story in your resume; the next post in this series will delineate ways to present your career story in your networking and interviewing. In today’s post let’s talk about how to reveal your career story in your LinkedIn profile.

You probably already know that LinkedIn is the #1 tool that recruiters and hiring executives employ to source candidates for open positions. As such, it is the key location for you to convey your career story online.

How to Tell Your Career Story in Your LinkedIn Profile

Create strong positioning for your profile. One-size-fits-all resumes don’t work; neither do one-size-fits-all LinkedIn profiles. You must define your top 1-2 job search targets and craft your profile around them. This means that you need to use those title names or descriptors in your summary if possible and identify the top 5-8 key words that qualify you for them. These key words should be included in your summary and/or listed as your specialties. In addition, your summary should briefly overview the story of your career within the parameters suggested by your positioning.
Align your profile’s content with your positioning. As my high school English teacher used to say, “Tell your reader what you’re going to tell them. Tell them. Then tell them what you told them.” Your profile must do the same thing. Use your headline to preview what you profile will be focusing on. Reiterate that message in the balance of your profile and summarize it in your, well, summary. Include nothing that distracts from your core message.
Leverage a single strong achievement to focus on with each job you list on your profile. Recruiters and hiring executives have very little time to quickly glance through your profile. Note that they rarely have time to actually read it. They glance at it. This means you have to make key details stand out and you can’t do that if you overwhelm your work history section with lots of details and achievements. The proper place for those is on your resume or CV. Your profile should instead give your reader a rapid snapshot of the role and a single stellar achievement you accomplished during your tenure.
Craft a summary that showcases your brand, your overall achievement record, your key credentials, and your relevant traits/characteristics. Your summary is a big picture overview of your career, so this is the place to deliver a bird’s-eye view of your story. Emphasize your brand, of course, but blend it in with your achievement record and the details that best substantiate your candidacy. If it helps, try sub-dividing your profile into sections and use each one to present vital details. Or, if you prefer a softer approach, try writing your target market an open letter.
Tie it all together with your headline, background image, and add-on documents. Your LinkedIn profile headline should be the icing on the cake. It should briefly detail your positioning while including relevant key words, an achievement mini-summary, or your Why-Buy-ROI. In alignment with your career story, convey the same positioning and branding with your profile’s background image and carefully selected add-on documents that substantiate your candidacy.

Can you see that your job search isn’t served well by a generic, detail-rich LinkedIn profile? Rather, you need a strategic profile that tells your career story without drowning your readers in too much information.

Have you joined my new LI Group yet? I’ll be designing and suggesting a new mini-challenge each week in 2016 to help you improve your LI profile, reach, visibility, and influence over time. If you’re a mid-career or senior executive, consider yourself invited.

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About Cheryl Lynch Simpson

Cheryl is a Career, Job Search & LinkedIn Coach and Master Resume Writer. She has helped clients in >35 industries on 6 continents and has earned 24 global resume writing nominations and awards.

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