Crafting Your LinkedIn Profile – Tips for Engineers

Maybe you had a class towards the end of college that talked about putting together your LinkedIn profile, or putting together a resume. Maybe you didn’t. I look at LinkedIn profiles daily – I have seen great ones and I have seen ones that make me scratch my head and think, “what was this person thinking??” I want to share with you a few tips for your LinkedIn profile that can help you get the kind of attention you want, or that you may even need at some point in your career.

Tip #1 – The Profile Picture

For better or for worse, this is probably the most important part of your LinkedIn profile. This is your face to the world and a picture of you can convey a lot about you in a very short time. Remember – first-impressions matter and that picture is a big part of that first-impression.

1. Make sure the photo is professional-looking, clear (not blurry), and that you are SMILING in the picture. I have had people ask me if they think action shots are a good idea (i.e. someone is a runner or cyclist and they want to have a picture of them doing that) and I think that is fine, again, as long as it is a clear picture and shows your face. Spending the money to get a professional photo taken is great, but with most of today’s latest smart phones, you can get a great picture (for free) that will be LinkedIn worthy.

2. Avoid pictures where you are with a group or with other people. In these types of photos, it can be unclear which one is you and generally is distracting. Also, avoid pictures of scenery – those are for Instagram or Facebook. This is a professional profile and you are selling yourself.

3. I said this already, but make sure you are smiling, or that you at least have a pleasant look on your face. I have seen some pictures where I think, “is that person standing in a line-up?” Your face can portray your personality and if someone is looking at a dour, serious, or sad-looking face, they may have second thoughts.

Tip #2 – The Content

Contrary to what you might have been told, your LinkedIn profile is not your resume – it is just a brief professional summary. Talk about what you are passionate about professionally – talk about your goals for the future. Show some of your personality. There is a summary section located just below that photo/title/location area; use this to talk about these things. Always keep in mind, this is your professional face to the World; you may think you have an extremely secure job, but layoffs are rarely expected; I frequently get calls from people who have been laid off and one of my questions is always, “did you see this coming or was it unexpected” and rarely do people say they saw it coming. Keeping your LinkedIn profile up-to-date and fresh is just a good idea.

With regards to the employment section – the first thing I would write is a brief summary of what your current company does or makes. Do this for past employers as well. Even if you work for a large, well-known company, don’t assume that other people know what is made at your facility or what kinds of technology that your company provides. One or two sentences about this should suffice. As far as your responsibilities go, again, a small handful of bullet points is all you need, there is no reason to be exhaustive here. You want to give others a good flavor for what you do and that’s all that is necessary.

Tip #3 – Education/Volunteer Experience

Education is pretty straight forward – make sure you list your school, degree/major and graduation year, just like you would on a resume. The ‘Volunteer Experience’ section is another place where you can really show who you are – what kinds of organizations do you like to support? This isn’t likely to land you an interview, but again, it shows people more of your personality and if you are interviewing, it can be a touchstone with a hiring authority.

Tip #4 – Ask For Some Recommendations

Recommendations are something that can really help you stand out. If you’ve been working for a while, ask a couple of co-workers, or even a supervisor, if they would consider writing you a brief recommendation (most people will say yes). If you are just out of school, ask a professor or two if they would consider writing you a recommendation. Recommendations, particularly on LinkedIn, show that you are good at what you do and that you have the respect of your peers.

If you have any questions – please feel free to contact me. I’m a LinkedIn Open Networker so it is free to InMail me, even if we are not 1st level connections. I enjoy talking about this kind of thing and I really enjoy helping other people with this.

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