Chances are big that you have a LinkedIn profile. It might be fully up to date and complete or it might be outdated and only half done, but most professionals nowadays do have a profile on this professional social network. And, as most people know, you should definitely be present on this social network because a lot of employers and headhunters use LinkedIn as their primary search database for good profiles. So, how can you make sure your profile is attractive in the industry you are active in?
You will want to start with the basics. Make sure your profile is complete and up to date, has a good profile picture, an appealing background picture and a summary that gives a good overview of you as a professional. You can add your skills, ask your network for endorsements of those skills and ask for recommendations to make your profile more appealing. However, what about how specialized versus general your profile should be? Have you thought about that? Because having a profile that is too general won´t be very successful, but did you know that a profile that is too specialized might not be ideal either? Much has been written about the pitfalls of having a too general profile, so today we will focus on why you should be careful to not make certain sections of your LinkedIn profile too specialized.
Let´s start with the headline. A lot of people take the headline as a synonym for their work title and think this is the only thing they can put in the headline. So, for example, if they are a software engineer they would put “software engineer” as their headline. However, there´s no rule that says the headline can only be your job title! In fact, you can use this field to say a bit more about your role, what motivates you and why you do what you do. This will make it more personal and appealing. But you have to be careful to not make your headline sound too specialized. Because if it sounds too specialized or too niche, the recruiter or headhunter browsing through profiles might not click on yours. Therefore, the challenge is to make your headline not too general but definitely not too specialized either because it will discard you from certain searches.
The same concept applies to the summary of your profile. First of all, if your profile doesn´t have a summary yet, you need to make sure you add one as soon as possible. The summary field is a chance to tell your story, therefore you have to bring it to life. But here again the danger of making your profile too specialized could appear, many people feel that if they put their summary full of specialized buzzwords and very specific jargon they will optimize their profile but actually, this could turn against you. First of all, recruiters and hiring managers are getting slightly allergic to all the buzzwords and therefore are usually not too fond of profiles that consist of many of these. And second, the power of LinkedIn is that you can be considered for jobs that you might not have thought of yourself. However, if your profile is too specialized, you are closing yourself down for any other opportunities out there.
In addition, make sure your network consists of more people than just your inner circle. Some people are tempted to just add people from the same background, industry or with the same specialized profile. However, the idea of LinkedIn is that you can connect with people you might not know directly through your network. Hence, if you keep your network very limited and specialized, this will also impact the reach you have on LinkedIn. This does not mean you should add anyone you can find online and accept an invitation even if you don´t know the person. But you should look beyond your inner circle and connect with different people from different stages of your career (and studies!).
Writing an attractive LinkedIn profile can be a fine line between making it too general and making it too specialized and your challenge is to find that balance.
Why do you think having a too specialized LinkedIn profile can impact your visibility on the network? We would love to read your ideas in the comments section!