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New year. New look. We’re talking about your LinkedIn profile, especially if you haven’t refreshed it in a while. Even if you’re not looking for a career move at the moment, it’s best to update your profile on the fastest growing internet platform, which has nearly 800 million members in 200 countries and regions worldwide.

Your Headshot

Let’s start with your photo. No matter how great you looked 10 years ago, your photo should represent who you are today. Depending on your field, you might want to get creative, too. While your LinkedIn picture should be professional, it doesn’t have to be a standard head shot. If you work in the field, it’s OK to reflect that in your profile picture. High resolution is a must no matter what kind of photo you choose.

Your Headline

LinkedIn gives you 120 characters to specify your personal brand in the form of a headline. Don’t waste a single character. You want to distinguish yourself in your industry, whether your intention is to grab the eye of a hiring manager, your peers or a future mentee. You already know you are unique. But optimizing your brand means differentiating yourself — using key words instead of cliché phrases like “seeking new opportunities.” Do some internet sleuthing on your own by looking for positions that interest you. From there, make a list of key words to include in your headline. Combine those words with something specific to you that’s more than the name of the company you work for already. Your headline is an introduction to who you are and what you’re about. What have you specialized in? Crafted? What inspires you? Do you have a result to tout? Unemployed? It’s OK to say you’re transitioning to a new area in your headline.

Your Summary

It’s not unusual for many folks to overlook the LinkedIn summary as nothing more than an extension of listing the jobs they’ve held, which already are broken down in the Experience section. Instead, your summary should be a thoughtful nugget that tells your story. The first three lines are visible and should make someone want to click to read further. Be original, genuine, specific. It’s one thing to say you’re a problem solver. It’s another to show that your mindset to strategize is rooted in the childhood love of the chess you played with your grandfather. Ask yourself who you’re talking to, and then write something directed at that audience.

Your Experience

Don’t just list job and dates under Experience. Showcase your accomplishments and if possible, add links to your best work. These can be documents, PowerPoints, presentations and more. Ask a former employer or colleague to write an endorsement on your behalf. You might also offer to do the same for them if applicable.

Your Banner Image

We stressed at the beginning about how much a professional headshot matters. Another visual component on your LinkedIn profile is the banner. Why settle for the default banner when you have another opportunity to tell a story visually about who you are and what you value? If nothing immediately jumps to mind, consider featuring what is important to the employers in your dream industry. That could be health or a sustainable environment. If you’re particularly adept at a specific software or tool of the trade, consider that type of image for your banner. You don’t have to be a graphic designer to create a banner. Several apps have capabilities to help you make your LinkedIn banner stand out.

While partnering with an executive search firm expands the options for your next career move, and we encourage you to reach out to us here, giving your LinkedIn profile a much-needed makeover at the start of a new year is another way to move forward professionally (and potentially help us notice you, too).

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