January is when most people find new jobs. Is your LinkedIn Profile up to scrutiny?

LinkedIn is always evolving, and important changes in how it works are not always announced – they just happen, and you may never realise the implications of these changes.

It’s part of my job to keep up to date with these changes so that I can keep my customers up to date and let them know when they need to change tactics or amend their profile. [#SkillsGap]

Here are five of the most important (but least obvious) elements of your profile to check if you’re looking for a new role in 2016:

1. Skills have become much more important

If you use a Recruiter Premium Account, you can now choose to sort a list of candidates by the skills required for the position. And guess who uses Recruiter Premium Accounts? You got it – Recruiters.

So it’s clearly become more important to include your most important keywords in your Skills section. The actual algorithm that’s used will naturally remain a secret hidden up LinkedIn’s sleeve, but you can probably guess that 99+ endorsements is better than 2 for any given skill.

So here’s your action plan for your Skills:

[Go to Profile/Edit Profile and then scroll down to your skills to edit as above.]

  1. Edit your skills (click on the little pencil when editing your profile) to make your Top 10 most important skills appear as the Top 10 on your profile – you can set the order and change it anytime.
  2. Group together complementary and related skills. This makes it easier for people to endorse you for other skills they recognise when they spot one that fits.
  3. Check that you don’t have too many, or too few skills – look at the skill sets of those employed in positions you seek. Focus on core areas – but ensure you include your specialist niches if appropriate.
  4. Do a reality check – do the skills sought by a recruiter appear in your skillset, and do you have endorsements for those skills? If not, fix it.
  5. Consider moving your skills further up your profile so that they are more immediately prominent. Drag the arrow on the right next to ‘Add skill’ to move this, and consider ‘zooming out’ in your browser to let you see where to drop the skills section.

2. Your group memberships are more important

Being a member of a group means that other group members can find you. And many groups have thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of members.

You can now join up to 100 groups (the previous limit was 50) and so you should seek to extend your membership of groups further.

So here’s your action plan for your Groups:

  1. Review your membership of existing groups – are these where potential recruiters are likely to look? If not, consider leaving, but bear in mind that larger groups may still be worth maintaining membership in to make sure you’re visible in search.
  2. Consider joining Groups focused on Associations, Areas of Expertise and those that align with your skills
  3. Make sure you are careful with your public settings and notifications for groups – you may not want to flag up to your current employer that you’ve just joined the “Job Seekers UK Group“, so you don’t want your membership to be visible on your profile with a group badge – which is the default. When you join a sensitive group, make sure you deselect that option, and also make sure your notification settings for your connections are suitable, especially if you’re updating your profile. Here’s a shortcut to check the visibility of your current groups: https://www.linkedin.com/anet?dispSortAnets=
  4. Check at the same time that your email notifications for groups are sensible – otherwise you could be deluged by irrelevant and annoying email messages from new groups that you join.

3. Your job titles should be clear and ‘standard’

If your current job title is “Director for Delighting Customers” it’s not likely that precise phrase is going to appear in a search for a Customer Service Director or Business Development Director.

So do a reality check, and if necessary, edit your job title so that it’s a recognised industry standard. It’s easy to work out what these are, as they appear in a drop-down list as you type, based on the most common job titles used on LinkedIn.

So your action plan is pretty straightforward:

  1. Keep it simple. If a recruiter can see that match the job titles and roles they have a need for, you’re far more likely to be found, and be shortlisted, if your current and even past job titles match their expectations. Fancy stuff don’t cut it here.

4. Use your summary to show the essentials

If you haven’t created a summary for your LinkedIn profile, then do so.

The pivotal part of your LinkedIn profile is the summary. It needs to tell the concise story of you. Who, what, why, when, and how much? What is your core area of expertise? How many books have you contributed to? What’s your big passion outside of work? When did you make a major change in your career? Why do you specialise in that particular niche area of expertise?

Tell me a story. And make me want to do something after I’ve heard that story.

[Example summary structure showing separate elements to include]

5. Add relevant multimedia and useful links to your summary

Reading text is not the most immediate way for the human brain to absorb information – video, images and audio are all much more immediate, and a photograph in particular is processed in milliseconds. So use media in your summary to show examples of your expertise and creativity.

  1. Add Slideshare presentations
  2. Add Soundcloud recordings
  3. Add YouTube videos
  4. Add links to useful downloadable PDFs
  5. Add links to focused web pages such as your enquiry page

[Example of multimedia elements added to a profile]

Your task here is quite simple – you need to stand out visually, and also show that you’re capable of creating content online that showcases your skills. If you haven’t created anything, now is a great time to start.