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Designed for professionals, LinkedIn is a social media platform for the business community. The basic functionality of LinkedIn allows users to create an online profile that represents their employment history and skills set. Through this profile, you can find jobs and business opportunities, network with professionals who can recommend you to their colleagues, and gain insights into your industry.
But how do you build the perfect LinkedIn profile to ensure that employers are finding you? If you’re thinking about working abroad, your LinkedIn profile might be the perfect place to start your job search. Here are our top tips for optimizing your LinkedIn profile for your international career.
Include a picture
Employers looking for recruits may scroll through thousands of profiles per week. These written profiles can often seem impersonal and artificial; so bring some life to your account by including a picture and showing the employer that you are the professional and presentable individual that you claim to be.
Your photo must represent you in a professional light. So no selfies, no photos of you drinking alcohol with your friends at that really great party, and no photos with your friends, parents, or pet. A simple headshot is all you need.
Choose a catchy headline
Many people simply use their job title as their headline. While this isn’t necessarily wrong, it’s a waste of an opportunity: you have 120 characters to use to describe your strengths and catch an employer’s attention. Use them to explain what you can offer. For example, “Marketing Consultant: Helping brands get noticed for the right reasons.”
Polish your summary section
This is the most prominent and important element in your profile. Don’t leave it blank or simply list your work experience. Write a sentence for each of your major successes; mention the principles and ideas that really motivate you. Back your claims up with quantifiable facts where you can, (e.g “increased click-through by 60%” or “reduced staff turnover by half”) and make sure to include any major qualifications or accolades you have received.
This is also a great place to mention if you learned English for your international career. Recruiters and employers looking for bilingual employees will see this section first, and mentioning language skills may encourage them to read on.
Create a custom URL
When you register with LinkedIn, it automatically assigns you with a URL that contains a combination of numbers and letters. But it’s possible to edit your URL so that it includes your name—this way when an employer (or anyone for that matter) Googles your name, your LinkedIn profile will be one of the top results. This makes you more visible to future employers and recruitment agencies.
Build your recommendations
Recommendations will convince employers that you’re not just a wannabe—you really can deliver on your claims. If you have worked closely alongside a colleague or employer, then offer them a recommendation for one in return. Choose a particular skill that you would like to highlight and remind your contact of times you have demonstrated that skill.
If you feel uncomfortable asking colleagues for recommendations, try writing recommendations for them without being asked. It is likely that they will return the favor.
Build a strong network
LinkedIn will automatically invite contacts to connect with you. However, we suggest you deselect this option. While it may help you to build a lot of contacts, it is likely that there are people in your contacts who aren’t going to be helpful to you and may even detract from your professional image. Instead, use the search function to manually search for connections. Once you have made your selections, LinkedIn will then suggest similar people.
Spend some time writing personal, tailored messages to each person that will explain why you would value them as a connection—they’re much more likely to respond to your request.
Be active in LinkedIn groups
Similar to fan pages on Facebook, LinkedIn has a “group” function that allows members to connect around a common interest or area of experience. This is a great way to build your network and increase your recommendations, so whether it’s an alumni group from university or an industry-specific group, join in, and start a conversation. The more groups you join, the more you can network with like-minded professionals—but you do have to be active within a group to reap the benefits. When possible, try to offer valuable input to the discussion that will benefit other people and demonstrate your passion for your chosen industry.
When recruiters and employers search LinkedIn, they use industry-specific keywords to refine their searches. For example, if an employer is looking for a marketing assistant, they are likely to search keywords such as “marketing,” “SEO,” and “optimization” to drive them towards professionals that are skilled in this area. Visit the careers page of companies that you would like to be employed by and pick keywords that are used in their job descriptions. Work these words into your profile—but remember to be subtle about it. It needs to look natural.
Once your LinkedIn profile is complete, proofread it for spelling, grammar, and accuracy—and then read it through again, trying to judge whether your headline is attention-grabbing, your summary is interesting, honest, and easy to read, and whether your personality comes across. If you’re happy with it, ask a colleague or mentor-figure to look it over and see if it conveys the message you want.
Now your LinkedIn profile should be a compelling portrait of who you are, and what you can bring to your next role.
A version of this post originally appeared on Kaplan International English. Join the Kaplan family and benefit from immersive English language courses, choose from over 35 schools located around the world.