10 Things You Must Do for LinkedIn Profile Completeness

If you looked at 10 different LinkedIn profiles, you might see 10 different ways in which people have entered their details.  For a social networking platform that is trying to standardize the way people depict themselves with their “xxx% profile completeness” status that appears when you edit your profile, the results have been surprisingly across the board.  I am still amazed when I find professionals, and even active job seekers, without “complete” profiles.  Remember, LinkedIn profile completeness is not just about increasing chances that your business will get new leads from LinkedIn or that you will find a job on LinkedIn: As LinkedIn said in a recent marketing email to me entitled “Find top talent faster with free profile matches,” if you post a job on LinkedIn you will receive 24 highly qualified profile matches for free.  The only way you get matched up and potentially completed is by having profile completeness.  So even if you are happily working, don’t you want to make yourself open to new opportunities should they come knocking on your door?  For professionals, whether you are employed or unemployed, the value in having a completely filled out profile is equivalent.

Redefining LinkedIn Profile Completeness

My definition of a completely filled out profile is going to differ from LinkedIn’s definition.  Why?  I base my reasoning based on how people might look for you as well as how your personal branding might be perceived.

1. List Your Full Name

You’d be surprised how many people still use abbreviations instead of displaying their full name.  LinkedIn gives you this option in the name of “privacy,” but if you haven’t figured out in this Era of Social Media, privacy is already dead.  Why would you want to have a presence without revealing yourself?  You are potentially making yourself unattractive to those who may want to contact you.

2. Display Your Photo

I still get asked this question often: Should I display nothing, a logo, or a photo?  There are reasons why some people don’t want to display their photos, but this is a social networking platform.  Not displaying your photo raises more questions than provides answers.  If you were interviewed or had a business opportunity, you would show yourself, right?  So why not display yourself online?

3. Have a Professional Headline That Properly Brands You

The Professional Headline is what shows up under your name and also appears prominently in search results.  The safest bet is just to put your current title and company that you work for.  But put something…and if you are looking for potential opportunities, brand yourself properly here.

4. Have Something Relevant and Timely in Your Status Update

This is something that I would not have included several months ago, but the Status Update is not just about linking your account to Twitter and broadcasting tweets that may be irrelevant to your network.  It’s also not about “gaining mindshare” by blasting your network with your Network Updates.  The Status Update is about showing that you are still relevant in doing whatever you are doing.  Going to an event?  Share it.  Attending a conference?  Share it.  Read something interesting that is relevant to your brand?  Share it.  Use your Status Update to show your relevance….and try to aim for a once-a-week update.  You don’t want someone visiting your profile and see a Status Update that is months old…

5. Display Enough Work Experience…with Details

If you’re only listing your current place of employment, your LinkedIn profile is obviously not complete.  And if you are listing where you worked without any details as to what you did there, your profile is incomplete as well.  Look, your LinkedIn profile doesn’t need to be a resume.  But even a one sentence summary as to what you did is enough to ensure that a potential reader understand that you actually worked at the company and understand the role that you had.  It is obviously to your advantage to list as much details about your experience at each company as possible so that you show up in more search results.

6. Did You Go to School?

I’m still shocked by those who don’t put any education details on their profile.  If you went to an institution of higher learning, display it.  If not, list your high school.  Once again, not showing any education details raises more questions than provides answers and makes your profile incomplete, lessening your chances of getting contacted with potential opportunities.  Displaying where you went to school also allows your ex-classmates to find you…and you never know how you might be able to help each other out.

7. Get Some Recommendations

The LinkedIn “profile completeness” algorithm requires that you receive three recommendations in order to get to 100%.  I don’t think there’s any magic number you need to have a complete profile.  My suggestion: get at least 1 recommendation for every position that you’ve had, preferably from your hiring manager.  College student?  Get a recommendation from your advisor, professor, or even someone in your Career Center.  But get something on your profile in the form of a recommendation that displays your realness.

8. Acquire Some Connections

If you’re on LinkedIn you should be networking.  If you are a professional you have years if not decades of professional experience from which to find potential connections.  The calculation is easy: all things being equal, the older you are the larger your network should naturally be.  If you are an executive and only have 10 or 20 connections, what does that say about you?  Connections are also important so that you can get found in the huge LinkedIn database.  Rule of thumb?  Multiply your age by 10 and that is the minimum number of connections that you should have.

9. Your Professional Summary is Essential

Don’t just register on LinkedIn like you’re entering your resume.  Your Summary, or “Professional Summary,” is your way to introduce yourself to the world.  Once again, why would you want to have a presence on the social networking platform and not introduce yourself?

10. Don’t Forget Your Contact Settings

The final section of your profile is one that is often neglected.  Sure, LinkedIn provides some default bullet points for you to use, but don’t stop there: Use your own words to tell the world why you have established your presence on the site.  If you are open to getting contacted say so.  If you are just on to network with people that you already know and don’t want to be bothered by potential opportunities, say so.  Let the world know what your contact policy is, ideally writing about what your networking objective is.  This will show that you are “real” and will complete out your profile.  For those of you that are happily employed or don’t want your company to be suspicious about your online activities, Contact Settings is a chance for you to set the record straight: Tell the world that you are happily employed but just want to get back in touch with ex-colleagues.  The choice is yours, but neglecting Contact Settings completely is something that you should avoid.  And it goes without saying that you want to make sure that you are not false advertising in your LinkedIn Contact Settings.

Did I miss anything that you think is essential to having a “complete” profile?  Anything you disagree with?  Please do comment!  And if you are looking for more profile advice, see my post on LinkedIn Profile Tips: The 10 Mistakes You Want to Avoid and Why.  You might also want to consider purchasing my LinkedIn book.

About the Author:

Neal Schaffer, Founder and Editor-In-Chief

The Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Maximize Social Business, Neal Schaffer is a leader in helping businesses and professional strategically maximize their use of social media. Neal is the author of three social media books, including the recently published definitive social media strategy book Maximize Your Social. Forbes lists him as a Top 35 Social Media Power Influencer and AdAge lists his blog, Maximize Social Business (formerly known as Windmill Networking), as a top 100 global marketing blog. Neal provides social media strategy consulting and coaching, having worked with Fortune 500 companies and a Grammy-award winning musician. He has presented worldwide on social media at more than 150 events and also teaches social media marketing at Rutgers University. +Neal Schaffer

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Comments

  1. says

    Thanks for the practical info.

    I sort of like not playing by the rules of LinkedIn. Because I thought I could get some interaction with other users by having them comment or ask me something about my profile.

    But I get what you mean (only now) by why you need the photo being up on the profile.
    Personally, I just don't like knowing that your face gets to be judged before your experience.

    I also can't believe Internet users will no longer have privacy! damn.

  2. says

    Hey Branwen,

    Thanks for your comment…and, yes, it was your email that prompted me to write this post!!! Hope you'll see why I recommend you have your photo. Remember, people aren't searching through photos on LinkedIn: they're doing keyword searches on your data. But when they display a few profiles, I do believe if you're the only one NOT displaying your photo it could work against you…

    As for privacy on the Internet, well, understand it, and learn to live with it. It's actually not a big deal if you control yourself ;-)

    Thanks again for commenting and looking forward to your future contributions!

    @NealSchaffer

  3. says

    Excellent article! There was a tremendous difference I saw once my profile was 100% complete. You may cover this elsewhere, but participating in LinkedIn Q&A's is also a good idea. Prospective employers can view the type of questions you ask, and also how you respond to questions.

    I consider LinkedIn as a professional network, I always do my best to ask and answer questions professionally.

  4. says

    Thanks Ginny. Participating in Q&A and Groups is an excellent strategy for engaging with other LinkedIn users, but this blog post was solely focused only on your profile and its completeness. It goes with out saying that a complete LinkedIn profile is only the beginning of the potential that is awaiting you in your LinkedIn journey!

  5. says

    Thanks for this great post. I was going to give a friend tips on improving her profile. Now I'll send a link to this article instead :)

    I'm amazed and dismayed at how few people complete their profiles to 100%. What signal does that send? The completion process is boring, time consuming … and essential. Why risk looking lazy in the place that shortcuts are conspicuous?

  6. Johnsuffolk1987 says

    “If you are an executive and only have 10 or 20 connections, what does that say about you?”

    …that you don’t really use LinkedIn?

Trackbacks

  1. […] Everyone’s good at something beyond their job, so why not add some Skills to your profile? It’s yet another great way to increase your chances of being found by those looking for your talents. You can even check out and add new skills to your profile when browsing another Skill’s page and compare the relative growth of similar skills through a handy chart at the corner. To know more about this feature, visit the LinkedIn Skills & Expertise page here. Since Skills are not included in the standard filters for advanced people search, it’s hard to gauge what potential SEO value they have for marketers and business development professionals; that being said, any jobseeker should definitely make sure that appropriate tags are included as part of their LinkedIn profile optimization. […]

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