Career Matters

By Lily Whiteman

Your LinkedIn profile should open strong

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Open your LinkedIn profile with a bang by instantly conveying your professional stature and by concisely packing as much information as possible into your header and your summary.

Your header is the title following your name. It shouldn’t necessarily match your job title, particularly if your title has only a ho-hum ring or does not capture your stature or areas of accomplishment.

Consider spicing up your header by calling yourself an “expert in X.” Do you recoil at the thought of calling yourself “an expert” even though you’re a seasoned professional? If so, you’re not alone, if my experience is any indication: When I lead seminars on career advancement skills, I invariably meet many true experts in their fields who — out of misplaced modesty — had never considered themselves as such until I convinced them otherwise.

Here’s my “expert” rule: If you’re the go-to person for a skill or topic and have years of experience in it, you’re an expert in it. All the more so if you have taught or published in your field.

Still not convinced you’re an expert? Then consider including in your header an alternative impressive phrase, such as “with extensive expertise in X.”

You might also spice up your header by citing skills you possess that are not covered by your job title. For example, I know a professional whose job title is “illustrator.” But because she also produces videos on her job and would like to move into a video production job, she added “video producer” to her LinkedIn header in addition to “illustrator.”

Another option: Define your position, your unique approach and what makes you stand out from the pack. For example, “chief financial officer who closed my agency’s books in record time.”

Also, feel free to cite your current employer in your title.

Your summary is the section following your header. Consider beginning it with a verve-filled conversational statement that defines your specialty or rare combination of skills, or describes how your approach distinguishes you from the pack.

For example:

• Journalism suits me to a “T” because I am inveterately curious. I love asking questions, and sleuthing out answers.

• Golda Meir said, “You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.” Her philosophy has guided each alternative dispute resolution negotiating session I have led between employees and managers during the last 10 years.

• I am a multitasking maniac. I manage a 10-person press office that is a veritable news release factory; airs weekly webcasts routinely picked up by The Washington Post and The New York Times; produces daily updates to a website that receives 500,000 hits monthly; and serves as my agency’s crisis management center.

• I created a cure for meeting overload! As a conference planner and facilitator at X since 2006, I have been running productive, engaging conferences that render disorganized, pointless and endless events obsolete.

Also include in your summary a “greatest hits” career overview in a concise paragraph or bulleted list of three to five of your most relevant achievements. Determine how to phrase those achievements by asking yourself, “If I were to meet a pivotal contact, which of my achievements would impress him most, and how could I prove to him that these achievements were important?”

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