From a recruiting and sourcing perspective I use LinkedIn on a daily basis. It is widely understood that recruiters use LinkedIn as a modern day resume database. And while you may not find yourself on the job market, it doesn’t hurt to keep yourself relevant just in case something happens in your career. linkedin-page

Here are 5 things you need to understand to make your LinkedIn Profile stand out.

1.  Updated, Clear Picture

Is your profile picture a picture of a picture? What I mean is did you snap a photo with your phone of the picture of you on your desk and upload that to LinkedIn? Trust me; I have seen it many times. Or better yet is your picture the one you took of yourself at a bathroom mirror. Shocking, but true. Your picture needs to convey that you are a professional. Unless your industry specifically values outside of the box craziness (like a professional clown) then your picture should be clear and show who you are in a formal or traditional setting. You don’t have to run down to the local portrait studio, but a nice headshot taken with a nice backdrop will do the trick.

2.  Headline

When I am recruiting candidates on LinkedIn their headline is a make or break for me. If I am recruiting a Java Developer and someone’s headline reads “Sr. Java Developer” you can bet they are getting clicked on. For example I am a Corporate Recruiter. My headline does not say “Strategic Talent Finder” or “Un-Earther of Candidates” or anything else that is a little off the wall. No, it says “IT Recruiting Professional”. You know the saying you only get one chance to make a first impression? Well your headline is the same way. If your headline does not give me a clear picture of who you are, I am probably going to move on to the next person. There is no need to overthink it.

3.  Full Detail

LinkedIn is essentially your resume. If you debate this fact I would be interested to know your reasoning. Think about the way LinkedIn is set up. Its format is set up as Experience, Education, Awards, References and Dates and Titles to coincide with all of this information. Do you know what is also set up that way? Your resume. You wouldn’t send your resume to a prospective employer without detail would you? Your LinkedIn profile should be treated the same way.

4.  Awards

Do not be afraid to brag about yourself on LinkedIn. This is a very competitive job market and the things that separate one candidate from the next are becoming slim. If all things are equal with two candidates, it most likely comes down to the one who has greater accomplishments/ extracurricular activities that relate to their industry. With me for example, I know that the fact that I actively blog about the recruiting industry has made me stand out from the crowd of other recruiters I have interviewed against.

5.  Top Skills Filled Out

LinkedIn allows you to fill out your skills. And even better recruiters can search profiles based on these skills. So it is important that you make sure this section is filled out. If you are a sales professional you shouldn’t just have “sales” listed under skills. It should be “sales”, “cold calling”, “business development”, etc. etc.  With these skills LinkedIn has also introduced endorsements. Now endorsements have been widely debated, and there is not enough time to discuss that here. So while random people you don’t know may be endorsing you, on a much larger scale I would venture to say that the majority of your endorsements are pretty spot on. For example, I am a recruiter and my top endorsed skill is “Recruiting”; pretty accurate. Well the more relevant of a skill set you are endorsed for the faster it gets to top of the list. So if I am searching for a Python developer and Python is at the top of their list, it is a safe assumption that, on paper, this is the person I am looking for.

You may read this list and think to yourself “I am an award winning engineer; I don’t need to worry about a career change”. And while this may be true no one really ever has 100% job security. Companies are forced to make cut backs all the time. And while you may be a long term employee who is looked favorably upon, you do not want to find yourself on the job market one day asking the recruiter where you can fax your resume to. You want to stay up to date with the latest trends to ensure that if you are ever on the market that you are also in the know. It takes maybe 20 minutes of your time to update your LinkedIn profile. Is that really too much time if it opens up a door years down the line?