“You must think my LinkedIn profile is terrible.”
I hear this a lot from executives who have reached out about my services. To be honest, I see a lot of good LinkedIn profiles.
Many of my clients are quite eloquent writers. They have impressive achievements and strong selling points. They hold MBAs from prestigious business schools, speak multiple languages, and have led initiatives for some of the biggest names on the Fortune 500 list.
This information alone can often elicit interest from recruiters on LinkedIn.
If you are secure in your position and only vaguely interested in hearing about opportunities, perhaps this is enough.
But what happens when you are desperate for change and need to line something up as soon as possible?
What happens when you find that most of your competitors have similarly impressive qualifications?
This is where having a great LinkedIn profile—not just a good one—is essential.
Read on to learn what distinguishes a good LinkedIn profile from a great one.
1. It answers the question, “why you?”
You won’t stand out from a crowd of extraordinary peers if you are listing all of the things you have in common with them.
Strategic? Join the club. Analytical? You’re in good company. Innovative? Can one reach executive heights without being innovative?. Good at execution? Well, isn’t that what executives are supposed to do—execute?
A good LinkedIn profile often communicates the ways in which a candidate matches up to their competitors, but a great LinkedIn profile differentiates the candidate from the stellar line up.
2. It has visual appeal and differentiation
Many good LinkedIn profiles I see have decent content, but there is zero visual appeal.
The headshot is whatever cropped out Facebook picture could be found. The banner is the default blue backdrop with the dots connected by vectors. There are no uploads, links, posts, etc. in the featured section.
If you want a LinkedIn profile with great visual appeal:
– Invest in a professional headshot for your profile image. Run the image through an app like photofeeler.com to get a sense of how others’ perceive your image.
– Select an appropriate banner image that represents your expertise, interests, or brand attributes.
– Add items to your featured section such as blog posts you have written, slideshare presentations, links to videos, or other examples of your work or recognition.
Great LinkedIn profiles keep readers around with visual interest.
3. It has a search engine optimized headline
A lot of good LinkedIn profiles communicate current role and employer in the headline. This alone may be impressive for some and closely tied to the person’s target.
But I don’t care if you are the CEO of the #1 company on the Fortune 10 list—you are more than your job title.
Great LinkedIn profiles have SEO-driven headlines that communicate expertise and unique value. You have over 200 characters in this section where most readers will have the highest attention span. Use it to your advantage!
4. It has an engaging and skimmable About section
The good LinkedIn profiles I see often contain an About section where a career overview is given, delivered in a paragraph or two.
That’s reasonable, right? People want to know about your background.
The problem is that many of my clients fill this valuable LinkedIn “real estate” with information that reads like an obituary and often has dense paragraphs. It’s focused on history rather than who you the person is today, the precise challenges they solve, and the value they bring.
Great LinkedIn profiles have highly targeted About sections that communicate what is unique to the candidate, honing in on the specific business challenges they tackle that are most relevant to their goals, while highlighting major qualifiers such as relevant degrees, years of experience in the target industry, or significant career highlights.
Great LinkedIn About sections contain engaging hooks within the first line or two to pull the reader into the story. They are highly skimmable with punchy sentences, short paragraphs, and skimmable sections.
5. It has a search engine optimized Experience section that relays business impact
Many executives with good LinkedIn profiles have gone beyond the bear-minimum that many others have (I’m surprised at how many people simply list title and employer in this section).
But I often see this section focused entirely around responsibilities. Most executives competing for the same position will have had similar responsibilities, so focusing on them will not communicate differential value.
I also see many good LinkedIn experience sections that are not search engine optimized—a critical element in how a profile is ranked in recruiter searches.
Great LinkedIn experience sections provide succinct information on the scope of responsibility while focusing heavily on the the initiatives that transformed the business, without revealing confidential information.
They have also been carefully keyword optimized in both the job title field and the experience description, to optimize their visibility in recruiter searches.
How does your LinkedIn profile measure up? Is it good…or is it great?
If you are a upper-echelon executive, chances are you are well acquainted with greatness. It takes a lot to get to the higher ranks. Just be sure you’re not packaging your greatness inside a LinkedIn profile that fails to do it justice.