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How to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile for a Career Change

linkedin profile career change

When it comes to your career, your web presence can often make or break you.

A well-written and thorough LinkedIn page can often be one of the best weapons in your arsenal to make sure that hiring managers and potential employers see the professional that you wish to present. After all, many times, your LinkedIn page will be one of the first sites that pop up when your name is punched in for a Google search. Use this prime real estate to your advantage to showcase your best qualities and make yourself easy to find. If you’re working on a career change, start with some key edits to your LinkedIn profile to help you make the leap.

  • Winning Headline for Career Changers

No pressure but your headline on LinkedIn needs to be clear, simple and impressive.

Most people simply use their current or most recent job title as their headline. Bad move, especially for a career changer looking to potentially shift into another industry. Think big. Rather than writing “Assistant Vice President at Smith Industries”, consider how you want to appear to a hiring manager in the career you’re switching to. Assistant Vice President doesn’t communicate precisely what you do daily and Smith Industries may not be a company she is familiar with. Try “Financial executive skilled in growing midsized foodservice companies. Quoted in the WSJ and on CNBC.com.” Now, you’ve communicated what you do, where you provide value and a few instances of others who have recognized the importance of your expertise.

But remember, you only get 120 characters to knock this one out of the park—so choose your words carefully.

  • Craft an SEO Friendly LinkedIn Summary

Your summary needs to do two, very important things. First, it needs to tell a compelling story about you and your top achievements. Second, and perhaps more importantly for career changers, it needs to be stocked full of keywords that recruiters in your chosen industry are searching for. That said, no LinkedIn page alone can help you land a new job. You need to get out there and get on the hunt. But by including keywords that appeal to your new industry, you can stand a fighting chance of getting noticed by hiring managers using LinkedIn’s search engine for talent like you.

Search the job listings for the roles you are targeting and make sure to include reoccurring terms in your summary. Of course, when it comes to specific skills that often appear in the target job listings, if you don’t yet have the capabilities, don’t lie. When writing, stick to the first person and be sure to emphasize measurable accomplishments over responsibilities for maximum impact.

  • Think Outside Your Industry

This can be the hardest part for career changers to do.

Start considering how your LinkedIn page—and your resume, for that matter—appears to people who are not intimately familiar with your industry. Jargon or other terms that might impress within your sphere of reference might be meaningless or downright confusing to people outside of your industry. Where a job seeker remaining in your industry might be free to use these terms to impress an audience that will instantly recognize their value, you now need to communicate these accomplishments, skills or honors to employers and recruiters who may not understand them.

Focus on the skills you have in your industry that can be applied to the career you are transitioning to. For example, maybe you are proficient in a specific computer program that will no longer be relevant outside of your current industry. Find a way to communicate what you are able to accomplish using this program so that your acumen with computers shines through and is clearly relevant to your new industry.

Also read: 5 Questions Hiring Managers Ask About Career Changers

  • Use Media to Your Advantage

If you have a portfolio of work that demonstrates your accomplishments, make sure to take advantage of the ability to link to it on your profile page. If you can communicate an important skill through your profile picture, do so. Maybe it’s a photo of you giving a TED talk or a presentation to a large audience. This image might communicate your skill of public speaking which is transferable to your new career. Showing an action shot can sometimes be more communicative and memorable than a standard headshot.

However, be careful that your profile picture tells the right story about you. If you don’t have anything that fits the bill, stick with a clear and simple headshot.

Also read: How Employers View Your LinkedIn Profile

About the Author

R. Kress is an Emmy Award winning journalist whose reporting and writing has appeared in national media from NBC News to the International Herald Tribune. She has covered news from cities around the world including Jerusalem, Krakow, Amman and Mumbai.