More than most people, if you’re a software developer, you’re expected to stay up to date with the latest technology. So, you probably already know how important LinkedIn can be when you’re out hunting for a job. For a software developer, a good LinkedIn profile is almost a prerequisite for a professional public face. So how can you use that profile to land a job—guaranteed? Well, read on for our simple guide that will show you step-by-step how to create a LinkedIn profile that will have you standing out and moving up. And if you are curious about LinkedIn Learning, you can read our guide here.
Creating a great LinkedIn profile couldn’t be easier, but if you don’t have the time to read all 10 tips, here is our quick take:
Creating a LinkedIn profile that will get you a job requires a user to succinctly show their best attributes, present a professional face, and show-off new skills. Those serious about standing out on the platform should utilize its synergy with LinkedIn Learning to improve their networking abilities and create a portfolio of work. Lastly, in networking, as in life, an opportunity to show kindness rarely goes unrewarded, and you never know where new skills and connections may lead.
The following table of contents, besides being a great brief overview, can also use be used to track your progress in creating a great LinkedIn Profile.
Setting the Stage: How to Present a Professional You on LinkedIn
When creating your LinkedIn profile, you must remember that, while it may look like other social media networks, it is a unique platform in that it is geared towards professionals. That means that LinkedIn requires a unique, more business-minded strategy to building your profile than you might use on TikTok or Twitter. So, here are a few quick tips on how to present yourself on LinkedIn professionally:
- Be polite: be yourself for sure, but don’t say anything on the platform you wouldn’t say in a job interview.
- Put your best foot forward, check your profile for typos and clutter regularly,
- Spread the love, through endorsements and LinkedIn Learning, to grow your profile organically.
As you can see, a good LinkedIn profile requires a specific mix of ingredients, we will get into how to build the best possible profile next.
Choosing the Right Profile Photo
The right photo will go a long way in establishing the professional tone of your LinkedIn profile, not just any old selfie will do. While you should feel free to use a professional photographer, or a photo your work might have paid to be done, however, not everyone has the cash or access to these options. If you are looking for tips on selecting the right profile photo, check out these tips below:
- The photo should consist of only you, ideally from the shoulder up.
- You don’t need to be directly facing the camera, but never appear in profile. (That often makes one look like you’re taking a mug shot.)
- Use a solid or textured background, free of adornment. This can be any blank painted or brick wall for example.
- If you can’t find a place indoors to take a photo, head to the park for a photoshoot, make sure you are shooting away from the sun.
- Ask someone else to take the photo for you, don’t take a selfie, trust us.
- Be professionally dressed, wear what you would to the office in your line of work.
Lastly, if you want a professionally done photo for cheap, consider getting a passport photo taken. This can be done almost anywhere, from a photography studio, to a pharmacy, and shouldn’t cost more than $10 for a set of photos you can use for your profile. Just be sure you are happy with the result, since you are paying for it, and retake the photo if you aren’t.
Getting a Good Background Image
Many of the same pieces of advice that we gave for choosing a profile picture also apply to your background image. However, choosing a background image does have a few different criteria to consider.
- Choose a high-quality image, this picture will be largely displayed on your profile and you don’t want it to look pixelized if blown up on a large screen.
- Make sure there is nothing distracting in your photo, no one picking their nose in the background, etc.
- Choose an image that represents you, a nice view from a place you enjoy going, a picture of your school or the building where you work are all good options.
Lastly, if you are truly torn over what sort of image to use, consider going with a simple geometric pattern, nothing too busy Forbes has a good list for inspiration.
When Writing Your Profile, Always Avoid Buzzwords
One of the biggest mistakes most people make when they are creating their profiles is to fill them with overused buzzwords. A list of the ten most overused examples can be found here, but examples include words such as strategic, creative, and leadership. If you use LinkedIn, you probably come across these keywords so often that they lose their meaning, the original value they may have held is gone thanks to their now-ubiquitous overuse. For example, using phrases like “leadership skills” or saying you are an “experienced creative” on your profile is basically asking people’s eyes to glaze over and stop reading. Luckily, there are much better and fresher ways to say what you want, it only requires a little creativity and knowing what words to avoid. Some tips to remember are:
- Show don’t tell, for example instead of just listing a qualification, show how you used it to complete a project.
- Write for your audience, not for yourself, and think of your purpose while writing.
- The thesaurus is your friend, but don’t get too extreme with obscure words.
Most of all, avoid using played out buzzwords!
Creating a Memorable Headline
Your headline will appear at the top of your profile and will probably be the first thing anyone sees. A good headline is thus a key component for the success of your profile. Most people use their headlines as a means to convey their current title, but that is so safe that it is unlikely to stand out.
And what if you don’t have a title or are looking for a new one and don’t want to display your old one?
Instead, you should use the space to talk about what value you think you bring to your current role, why you’re passionate about your current job, or even just what makes you you.
These are all good reasons to ditch putting a professional title in your headline and get a little creative, feel free to look around LinkedIn for inspiration from other people’s profiles. Seeing other’s creativity is always a good source of inspiration!
How to Sell Yourself in Your Summary, Without Sounding Desperate
The summary you write is one of the most essential parts of your profile, so no pressure in writing a good one. Fortunately, writing a quality summary doesn’t have to be hard if you keep in mind that you are telling a story about yourself to your readers. This story doesn’t have to be a straight and dull recitation of the facts of your education and work experience. In fact, the key to avoiding a dull summary is to bring interest to your biography by avoiding the same dull, expected verbiage.
Here are some tips for creating the best possible summary:
- Take your time writing the summary, it is important. It’s best to do multiple drafts and to have a trusted colleague look it over before publishing.
- Catch the readers’ interest from the beginning with a short joke or anecdote related to an aspect you want to focus on.
- Try to talk about the difference your skills have made for you or your coworkers, instead of just listing them.
- Discuss what you learned from a project or experience in lieu of just naming it.
Whatever you do, don’t leave it blank! It is amazing how many people don’t take advantage of their summary by not writing one, as it is one of the best opportunities they will have to directly market themselves.
How to Grow Your Network Organically
Users of the platform will already know that, unlike most other social media networks, it is the quality and not the quantity of your connections that matter on LinkedIn. Growing your network should focus much more on utilizing your already existing contacts and growing from there, rather than trying to connect with random users who probably offer little value.
Here are some tips on how to grow your network:
- Let LinkedIn scan your address book so you can connect with all of your contacts. This maximizes the quality connections you already have in place. They don’t send any emails without your approval first either.
- Follow up any meetings or interviews with a LinkedIn request, this is a great, low-stakes way to establish your professional relationships.
- Update your LinkedIn information, or link to it, on anything you create and your email signature, so that people can easily find it and connect with you.
Another great way to grow your network is to utilize LinkedIn Learning. By using the online learning platform correctly, which we will discuss below, you can complete courses for certificates that verify skills that people can then use to search for and find you.
Using LinkedIn Learning Successfully
Even experienced users of LinkedIn may be unaware of the benefits that are available to those that pair their use with LinkedIn Learning. LinkedIn Learning is an online learning platform that offers courses students can take to add new skills or supplement their existing ones. The best part of LinkedIn Learning is that it allows students to gain which can then be posted to your LinkedIn profile. Posting certificates to your LinkedIn profile is a good way to show off your new knowledge and stand out.
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It should be pointed out that LinkedIn Learning offers everyone a 1-month free trial, which can be canceled at any time before they charge, no questions asked. This is great if you want to give the service a try before committing, though subscriptions are a good value regardless.
LinkedIn Learning is also good for the following:
- Taking a course to build a portfolio you can post to your profile, which we will discuss below.
- Connecting with others passionate about improving their skills in your field.
- Learning skills or knowledge in a field other than your own.
- Most importantly, you can post certificates to your LinkedIn profile for networking use. (This is a great way to generate leads from your existing network, as they may not be aware of all the skills that you have, or new skills that you have gained.)
Creating a Project Portfolio for your LinkedIn Profile
Software developers often feel that they can only put together a portfolio of work they have done professionally, which leaves those without a ton of professional experience flummoxed, what are they to do? If they want to have a great LinkedIn profile, they should take the time to create a project portfolio of their own and post it to the Featured section of their profile. This doesn’t even have to be a difficult process; you can even take several LinkedIn Learning courses that promise to help you create a portfolio of your work just for this purpose.
For software developers, Learning LinkedIn courses have added utility because of their ability to download “Exercise” files. This feature allows you to download instructor code that you will be familiar from the learning process. You can use these exercise files, and the examples of code within them, as the basis for your own analysis and to start your own projects. The subjects covered are on topics that could easily be used as a starting point for building your own proof-of-concept work. Additionally, quality work on your part be used as verification of your skills and compiled into a professional portfolio, no actual professional experience required. Students can also post such compilations to their Github public repositories as well.
If you are looking for examples of courses that can help you do this, here is a list of some of the best online courses for software developers.
Here is a step-by-step guide on creating a Project Portfolio for your LinkedIn Profile:
- LinkedIn Learning courses have students’ learning by working through practice problem sets together with instructors. Afterward, most courses allow students to download the instructor’s data as exercise files. These files are filled with code that is useful because students should be familiar with it from working through it in class already.
- You should take all classes seriously, but especially those that you might want to use exercise files from. This is because a lot of the value of LinkedIn Learning will come in being able to understand what is in these files and that is nearly impossible to do if you weren’t paying attention to what the instructor was doing during class. If you pay attention and absorb the material, you will be able to understand the code later when you look through the exercise data downloads.
- Download exercise data from a course that you understood the principles of or had a project you think you did particularly well at.
- Use the exercise data as a springboard for your own projects.
- Make as many high-quality projects as you can, these will be the building block of your portfolio.
- Compile your best examples into a portfolio of your work.
- Editing of your work may be necessary, make slight adjustments if you think something is too specific or vague for a broad audience.
- Add your media to LinkedIn; the platform supports most Microsoft Office save formats, picture file types, and even the .gif format, though you will always lose the first frame. You can find out all the details from LinkedIn here.
- Software developers can at this point upload project code into their own Github repositories. This makes it easier to share these projects later on students’ resumes.
- Be sure that your content is compatible and then upload it either to your summary as a file or links, or you can also add media under anything listed under the Experience or Education sections.
- You’re done! Your portfolio is posted to your LinkedIn profile and all you have to worry about is updating it with the latest examples of your work from time-to-time.
So, as you can see, creating a portfolio and uploading it to your LinkedIn profile is a simple and easy way to have a BIG impact on your ability to land a job.
Perfecting Your Profile: Odds and Ends
With the above taken care of, you will be well on your way to having a job-landing LinkedIn profile, however, the following tips are important to consider:
- List your skills, not your aspirations. Don’t put down anything on your profile that you don’t actually know how to do or have done.
- Take advantage of the platform’s built-in Utilize function, you can use these skill assessments as independent proof of your abilities.
- Spread your endorsements around, when people get an endorsement from you, they are much more likely to reply in kind.
- Follow industry leaders, even if they aren’t in your industry. You never know where a good idea might come from.
- Remember to ABC – Always Be Commenting. That being said, make sure you are providing comments of value.
- Post long-form content to start forming long-term contacts. People will be attracted to your expertise.
The most important part of your profile maintenance will be regular updating of it to reflect your current career. This can involve updating your portfolio, weeding through your contacts, and reassessing your endorsements. Once built, and with proper maintenance, your profile should be a job-landing asset for years to come.
Thank you for reading our 10 tips for creating a 100% guaranteed job-landing LinkedIn profile, we hope you have learned a lot. If you would like to learn more about online learning platforms, check out our guides here. And be sure to read this guide, if you would like to learn exactly how to become a SQL developer, fast!