When it comes to hiring and professional networking, your LinkedIn profile is your first impression. With 95% of recruiters using LinkedIn to find new candidates and 760 million users connecting daily, people are making judgements and assumptions about who you are before that first introduction. So how do you stand out from others in the Accounting and Finance industry?
You need a powerful digital presence and professional persona. LinkedIn is the leading digital platform to:
- Tell your professional story
- Connect with your network
- Amplify your professional achievements
- And, of course, find new opportunities
Leveraging all that LinkedIn has to offer can exponentially expedite your job search or present you with a new connection or career path that wasn’t even on your radar. Here are seven quick tips to help elevate your profile and get you noticed first.
1) LinkedIn is Not Your Resume
One of the most important things to understand is that LinkedIn is not a resume, and it shouldn’t be treated like one.
LinkedIn is a dedicated space to tell your professional story. Your story should:
- Be clear, concise and compelling
- Sound authentic and credible
- Say what you do (quickly and clearly)
- Highlight your skills and expertise
- Share your passions, interests and intention (whether for work, networking and/or helping others)
2) LinkedIn is a Powerful Search Engine
LinkedIn is not only the leading professional networking platform, it’s a powerful search engine. Profiles with strong stories and complete information can significantly amplify your reach and impact.
Search engine optimization, or relevant key words, is the leading reason why people are found on LinkedIn. It’s important to have a complete profile with key words for which people in your industry are searching. These key words, also known as SEO, help drive targeted, high-volume traffic to your page. When you power up your profile’s SEO, you increase your odds of being discovered not just by members using LinkedIn, but also in relevant web searches, such as Google. LinkedIn is one of the top five sites that Google indexes regularly. This makes completing your profile and applying SEO best practices critical for better search visibility.
3) Your Profile Picture Matters
Profiles with a photo get 21x more views, 9x more requests to connect and 36x more messages.
Most people will not “link in” with others if they do not have an image. And many HR professionals and recruiters will not consider a candidate without a profile picture. People want to see who you are. It’s a standard in using a platform designed for connecting with others, and it’s a potential indicator that a candidate may not be digitally savvy or active if the photo is missing.
Ensure your photo is professional (no baseball caps, sunglasses or family members), has good lighting with a neutral background, and is recent.
4) The Industry Field is Critical
More than 300,000 LinkedIn members search by industry each week. Profiles with an industry get nine times more views. It’s the same with work experience, city and skills. Many searches are conducted looking for specific locations, and more importantly, specific experiences and skillsets.
The more information you include, the higher you will rank in searches and the more credible you become.
5) Your Headline Needs SEO
A standout headline can increase your visibility, credibility and searchability. Your headline should be short, compelling and customized to include:
- Discoverable key words for SEO
- Industry terms
- Your role
- Skills and expertise
- The impact you make
There is a 220 maximum character count so be direct about what you have to offer. Here are a few good examples for Accounting and Finance professionals:
Example 1: Accounting Services Manager, focused on streamlining processes and moving to cloud-based solutions.
Example 2: MBA, Controller, Accounting Manager, ERP Business Analyst, Former Big 4 Auditor
Example 3: Accounting Manager | Salesforce & ERP Professional | Accounting & Financial Expert | 3x Salesforce Certified
Example 4: Chief Financial Officer | Managing Partner | Driving Corporate Value through Capital Raising, Investor Relations and Business Development
It can feel overwhelming to sum up your professional assets in a short one-liner or a few sentences. But there are many places to look for inspiration. You can borrow from the best and look at your professional community on LinkedIn. Check out influencers and thought leaders in your industry, colleagues within your company, and mentors or coaches you may have worked with in the past. Search for key industry terms, relevant “Company” pages and open job postings in your field.
6) Craft a Compelling (and Complete) About Section
The “About” section is prime real estate for featuring your skills, expertise, mission, and interests. Your summary showcases who you are, what you do, why your work matters and the impact you have made. It should include your:
- Key skills
- Industry terms for SEO
- Career accomplishments
- Companies with recognizable names
Your summary must be at least 40 words for search engine optimization, and no more than 2000 characters, which is approximately 350 words or one page of typed content. Only the first few lines are auto displayed on your profile without needing to click “See More.” You should quickly state what you have to offer and why it’s important.
Don’t begin by describing your current role, this is located elsewhere on your profile, and can be referenced later in the summary.
Because LinkedIn is the place to tell your professional story while showcasing why you stand apart from others, your summary should be written in first person.
As a networking platform, it’s awkward to have your profile written in third person because you are the creator of your own account, content, introductions and connections. Using first person also emphasizes that you are aware of modern social media best practices and standards. It also shows that you didn’t just upload your resume, and most importantly, it conveys authenticity. Your “About” section should be written in a story format with short paragraphs and limited use of bullets.
7) Customize Your URL
LinkedIn allows you to customize your URL to appear as linkedin.com/in/your-name, which is much more visually appealing when included on resumes, email signatures or social media bios. You can update your URL by following the instructions in this LinkedIn help article.
There’s so much you can do with your LinkedIn profile, which means a lot of opportunity to raise your visibility and online presence. These seven simple steps will not only help elevate your profile to make new connections and stand out from the crowd — it could open doors to your dream job.