10 reasons to update your LinkedIn profile now!

When people are in career-transition or job-search mode, the first thing they think about is updating their résumés. People often spend quite a bit of time and money making sure their résumés sparkle. On the flip side, we tend to slap our LinkedIn profiles together as an afterthought. Now is the time to rethink our priorities.

To be clear, the résumé is not dead! You still need a well-written, targeted résumé in order to apply for posted positions. However, a relatively small number of positions, as few as 20 percent, ever get posted. The vast majority of opportunities are found through networking online and in person.

A key element of our success requires showing up high in searches. According to Melissa Luna, career expert and owner of Strategic Advancement LLC, “Search engine optimization is essential with LinkedIn. Professionals must be strategic and build robust LinkedIn profiles utilizing key words that match their career aspirations. When done correctly, this will increase visibility in the search. The higher you show up in a search, the more likely it is that the recruiter will view your profile.”

The most important aspect for search optimization is having a profile that is 100 percent complete. According to Luna, a complete profile must include a minimum of 50 connections, five or more skills, a head shot, a title under the name, location and industry, current position with description, two previous positions and education.

Even as you read this article, a colleague, potential client or recruiter may be looking at your profile. If the thought of this makes you cringe, it is a good sign that your profile needs improving. Still need convincing? Here are nine more compelling reasons why you need to update your LinkedIn profile, today.

LinkedIn is massive and growing. LinkedIn boasts nearly 300 million members from more than 200 countries. Professionals and opportunities across all industries including Fortune 500 companies, arts organizations, nonprofits, government agencies, institutions of higher learning and small businesses can be found on LinkedIn.

This is where recruiters hang out. According to the latest LinkedIn survey, a staggering 93 percent of recruiters utilize LinkedIn as one of their primary sources for talent sourcing and recruitment. Long before you are asked to send in your résumé, a recruiter already has viewed and scrutinized your online profile. Even when more traditional hiring methods are used, recruiters and hiring managers view profiles before extending offers. They also report rejecting candidates based on what they find online.

Connect with ease. LinkedIn allows us to quickly identify and create associations with college alumni, potential customers, vendors, donors or current employees at a target company. LinkedIn also ensures that you don’t lose track of people when changing jobs.

Stay informed. By “following” thought leaders and influencers on LinkedIn, you stay informed about the current issues and latest trends in your industry. You also learn about upcoming conferences, webinars and workshops where you can take learning and networking to a deeper level.

Become a thought leader. Just having a profile is not enough. You need to participate in your online community. One of the best things about LinkedIn is that anyone can jump into the conversation. You raise your profile and actively demonstrate your value by sharing articles of interest or posting informative comments to online discussions.

Enhance your brand and professional image. Everything from your photo (which needs to be professional and current) to the companies you follow and the groups you join gives people a sense of what interests you and who you are as a professional. A strong profile also reveals your creativity, writing abilities and attention to detail in a way that far exceeds what comes across on a paper résumé.

Get endorsed and recommended. On our résumés, we sing our own praises. LinkedIn provides a platform on which other people can attest to our skills and expertise. For example, your connections can “endorse” you for specific skills and areas of expertise. Luna suggests asking colleagues and/or customers to write brief testimonials or recommendations that you can include in your profile. Luna adds, “This increases your search engine optimization and ultimately your brand.”

Showcase examples of your work. You can link to your own blog or website as well as upload info-graphics, videos, portfolios and publications in LinkedIn’s Summary and Experience sections. This further communicates your value and improves your chances of showing up in searches. Be sure that everything you post or upload is professional and consistent with your personal brand.

Show, don’t tell, who you are. A polished profile directly communicates your job-related skills and experience. The overall quality of your profile indirectly reflects your work ethic, attention to detail and your marketing or social media savvy. They say that, “How you do anything, is how you do everything.” LinkedIn profiles offer a way to show, not just tell, the world that we take our professional image and career seriously.

Continually connect to new opportunities. Many people rely on job boards or a small inner circle of personal connections to further their success. Whether you are a leader in a company, self-employed, actively seeking a new position or a passive job searcher, LinkedIn is a powerful conduit of information and prospects. A strong profile is the first step toward growing a larger professional community in which to give and receive support.

Hopefully you are now convinced and motivated to improve your LinkedIn profile. Luna suggests, “If you want to be found, do your own keyword search to see how well your profile is search-optimized. If you see professionals much higher than you after conducting the search, take some time to review their profiles to identify how you can improve your own.”

You know you need to do this, so don’t waste another minute. Now is the perfect time to make your LinkedIn profile shine.

Carrie Pinsky is a freelance writer, job-search coach and training specialist. Reach her at Pink Sky Counseling and Career Services, 970-225-0772 or www.pink-sky.net.

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