How to Make Your LinkedIn Page Pop

LinkedIn matters.

These are the words of Mary Ryan, Associate Director of Career and Leadership Services for Working Professionals at the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. The professional networking service is a good way to keep track of people you know, and it’s also something employers and recruiters check before they send out that coveted job offer. They’re not only checking to make sure you don’t have anything negative crop up, but also to make sure that you’re putting your best foot forward.

Ryan’s advice is simple: If you are an MBA student, you must have a LinkedIn page. But how can you optimize your page? What should you feature and what’s best left off? We recently sat down with Ryan to discuss her advice on how MBA students can create compelling and effective LinkedIn pages.

To kick things off, Ryan lists six things every profile needs to have:

 

LinkedIn Profile Page

 

  1. A picture. Your profile picture should feature one thing: you. And not just any picture will do. Visitors to your profile must be able to recognize you and the photo should act as a tool to help them remember who you are. You should be the only person in your picture and it should have a light background. Above all else, you want to look competent and friendly.
  1. Your name. You’d think this would be the easy part. But keep in mind that if you have a maiden name or nickname that you use, include it in parentheses next to your professional name so that it is searchable.
  1. A professional headline. This section will autofill with your current job title, but Ryan suggests changing it to pull in keywords for the types of jobs you're interested in pursuing. Since this is one of the first things people will see about you, you want your professional headline to represent the work you currently do and the types of work you want to do. This will help recruiters find you. Don’t make this section too long—Ryan recommends filling in no more than two lines and making every word count.
  1. A location. On LinkedIn, it’s better to err on the side of a broader location than a specific one. This may mean identifying yourself with the largest city that you’d be willing to commute to rather than the city or town that you live in.
  1. An industry. As with location, broader is better when it comes to industry. Ryan says this means choosing “military” over “airlines” for a military pilot, “finance” over “banking,” and similar choices that broaden your reach with recruiters. You want this section to be broad but still relevant; if there is a specific area that you specialize in, make sure that’s included in your professional headline.
  1. A custom URL. Take the time to customize your LinkedIn URL. This way, you can include it on a resume and it will look a lot cleaner.

 

Next, Ryan recommends that you create a Summary Section. This is a great place to provide your career highlights.

“Consider it a gift for your reader,” she says. “If they only have time to look at the first third of your profile, they’ll get all of the key information they need.”

Feel free to add in key words and multimedia links. A profile broken up with pictures is far more engaging than solid text.

 

LinkedIn Summary Page

 

In terms of your experience section, Ryan recommends highlighting your experience through the lens of “showing awesome factor.” She suggests that you compare yourself to a hypothetical coworker who has your same responsibilities but is terrible at their job. If they could include the same bullet point, without lying, you’re not showing “awesome factor.” What bullet points and details can you include in your experience that the other person cannot? To separate yourself from the herd, include percentages and numbers in this section, quantifying your successes in a way that enhances the basic description. Including specific feedback from peers is valuable as well because it is these qualitative metrics that set you apart from others.

 

Example No. 1

Without results: Led cross-functional global product team and generated new business.
With results: Led cross-functional global product team to launch new product in 10 countries; delivered new business of $150,000, 20 percent above plan projections. 

 

Example No. 2

Without results: Created a training program to improve office processes.
With results: Decreased expense report throughput processing by 60 percent through the development of a mandatory training program for all employees.

 

For skills, Ryan’s top advice for MBA students is to be strategic about the top 10 listed. Move them around, rearranging according to what you want to be known for. It’s also a good idea to reorder your skills list so that it matches your desired job description.

 

LinkedIn Skills Page

 

Ryan also suggests that MBA students use LinkedIn’s groups. By joining a variety of groups, an MBA student can serve both their academic and professional interests. Joining groups that are tied to your field or future field shows that you are keeping up with your industry’s thought leaders. Joining groups related to your schools makes it easier to network with people who already have commonalities with you and helps you build a mature professional network.

 

LinkedIn Groups Page

 

Finally, Ryan’s last advice concerns recommendations. It may take some work, but getting as many honest and authentic recommendations as you can will make your profile stand apart. Ask your recommenders to be specific and brief them on your career goals—not only does this create concrete, meaningful recommendations for you, it will also make it easier for them to write a good one.

LinkedIn is a phenomenal tool that MBA students can use to advance to the next stages of their careers, but too many profiles get lost in the search results. Use Ryan’s tips to make sure your profile isn’t one of them.