Formatting & Style

LinkedIn Profile Optimization

Some of the biggest issues with LinkedIn profiles are the basics of writing. Text, format, style, spelling, and grammar can totally mess up the impression you are trying to make on LinkedIn.

Each job experience that you list should look the same from a style and format perspective. For example, if you decide to write in the third person, do it across all sections so that you make a consistent impression.

If you use bullet lists, use them across all job experience entries and not just for one job experience. If you use certain headings (e.g., Major Accomplishments), implement them for every job experience.

Being consistent demonstrates that you are detail-oriented and that you pay attention to what matters. It might sound boring and less important, but quite a few recruiters and managers will judge you based on the very first impression, and in this case, your LinkedIn profile represents you. If you look sloppy and not well organized from your LinkedIn profile, it could translate  into real life. Being consistent also makes your profile easy to read. Time is money and if your profile looks cluttered and important information is hard to see from a quick scroll and scan then you will lose out.

And of course, I should not have to mention it, but, make sure to use correct grammar and spelling. Write your text in a 3rd party word editor (MS Word, MS Outlook, etc.) and use the spell checking capabilities from there to make sure your text is free of any spelling errors, or ask friends or family to proof-read your text and have them look for any grammatical errors.

Below is the screenshot from a profile of an Executive Director. This individual has combined many inconsistencies and spelling errors into his profile. When I was made aware of this profile for the first time I could hardly believe that this profile was for somebody in a high-ranking position.

  • Look at the first paragraph in the Summary section. You can see a little square at the very beginning – this stuff shows up when you simply copy and paste your content from one application into the web browser. It was probably some sort of a bullet point wherever it was originally written. To avoid these it is very important to copy and paste the content into a plain text editor like Notepad first. It will strip out any type of special character that would not come over as you intended.
  • Look at the first paragraph again. I highlighted the following: “An skilled” – this just screams grammar error. It should be “A skilled …”
  • Now look at the different items listed under the Experience section. You work for somebody for three years and all you can come up with is a one-line description?! That is a big fail. If you really want to use LinkedIn to market yourself then you need to do better.
  • The overall format and style of this profile is extremely weak and it makes it hard to read. A recruiter will not waste time trying to find any useful information; the recruiter will simply move on to the next profile on her list.

 

Strangely enough, the same individual listed other, earlier job experiences on his LinkedIn profile that were much more detailed, and did not show spelling or grammatical errors.

Personally, I might expect a weak LinkedIn profile for somebody much lower on the career ladder, but from an executive director who is in charge of many groups of employees, I would expect a bit more. Here is definitely a situation where it makes sense to pay somebody for help with setting up a nice looking LinkedIn profile if you do not want to do it yourself.

 

Use custom bullets for your profile

Here is a little trick that can help you to separate yourself from most other LinkedIn profiles and make sure that your profiles draws the right attention. By using custom bullets in your profile you overcome the boredom that many LinkedIn profiles carry.

Here is how it works:

Open the Character Map on your computer and select the Arial Font.

Once the Character Map is open and you have the Arial font selected, start scrolling down.

 

Here you see several custom symbols that come in handy when beefing up your LinkedIn profile. Double-click on an icon and it populates the box at the bottom. Click the Copy button and then go to edit your profile on LinkedIn’s website by /copying/pasting the special icon. Once you are done you can see the results immediately. Below are two examples where I used two different symbols to replace the standard bullets.

Custom Bullet Example #1

 

Custom Bullet Example #2

 

Macs also have something like a character map. You will need to Google or Bing for the instructions to find the character map, as I am not familiar with the Apple computer operating system.

Please keep in mind that you do not want to go overboard with bullets and possible alternatives. You should use them carefully and only with the purpose of enhancing your LinkedIn profile.

 

Other Design Options for your Profile

While bullets and alternatives are a great way to enhance your profile, there are certainly other things you can do to get the most out of your profile. The “pipe” symbol ( | ) works great as a separator when adding content. As an example it works great when creating lists of skills that only require one or two words

Example

Languages: English | Spanish | French | German | Italian

You can see how the pipe symbol comes in handy when listing languages that you speak. Of course it works with other skills equally well.

You can embed other visual clues as well. However, it might require some testing to see how it actually works once you copy and paste them into your profile. Here are a few suggestions, but again you will need to experiment. Many of these came out fairly small when I tested them. You can copy them from here into your profile or look for the appropriate usage where they would fit in best.

Custom Symbols

Personally I am not such a big fan of using these, but I can see some of these being helpful if you are using LinkedIn to represent your own business or representing yourself as  a consultant for hire.