Marketing Career: 3 steps to optimize your LinkedIn profile

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If you’re applying for jobs, you should consider LinkedIn as a landing page that sells … well … you. Earlier this year, LinkedIn hit the 100 million user mark, making it the fourth American social network to do so. And it’s not just the job seekers that log in — 73 of the Fortune 100 companies use LinkedIn Hiring Solutions.

In other words, expect potential employers to search for you on LinkedIn. And between applying for positions directly on LinkedIn and HR checking you out beyond your hard-copy resume, your profile could determine if you secure an interview and, ultimately, the job you want.

This is why optimizing your LinkedIn profile, like you would a product’s landing page, is important to your job hunt. Let’s see how we can apply MarketingExperiments’ research about landing page conversion to help optimize your LinkedIn profile page. To refresh your memory, we have developed the MarketingExperiments Conversion Sequence  to help marketers optimize landing pages for conversion:

C = 4m + 3v + 2(i-f) – 2a ©

Wherein:
C = Probability of conversion
m = Motivation of user (when)
v = Clarity of the value proposition (why)
i = Incentive to take action
f = Friction elements of process
a = Anxiety about entering information

In this situation, let’s define conversion as convincing a hiring manager that you are worth an interview. And to keep this blog post at a decent length (and focused on elements of the LinkedIn page you can actually optimize), we’ll focus on optimizing your value proposition (after all, you have very little control over the actual layout of the page).

After all, LinkedIn offers many interesting applications and add-ons, but you must first focus on the heart of your profile: the value proposition. In this blog post, I will show you how to optimize your LinkedIn profile by focusing on 3 value proposition-based steps.

Step #1. Achieve Congruence

Congruence is having every element of your page either state the value proposition or support the value proposition. What does this mean for your LinkedIn profile? Lots. Specifically, your headline and summary are the two main places to state your value proposition and let it shine.

I’ll go over two actual profiles I found on LinkedIn using the keyword “SEO strategist” in the search tool. The example below wastes a great opportunity to showcase her value to potential employers with the headline.  Instead, she uses the headline to state her current position; however, the position is restated just below as well.

The headline should state all that she has to offer and where she wants to go. Don’t limit yourself with a single title, you may never move past it.

 

 

The gentleman below maximizes his value proposition in the headline. He lists the most valuable skills he can bring to a job, definitely setting himself apart from the majority of LinkedIn users who simply use their current job position. Using the vertical bar character (|) to separate skills also gives the headline a nice, clean appearance.

 

Think of the headline as an email subject line. The goal is earn a click open, not a sale. The headline should entice prospects to open your full profile. And like the first few sentences of an email, the summary should convince them to stay and read the rest.

A value proposition is the ultimate elevator pitch. In a single, instantly credible sentence, you should articulate exactly why you should be hired over the pool of other applicants. Skip the easy sales-driven approach. Present the value you have developed in verifiable ways. Self-proclaimed titles, like “social media guru” or “WordPress king” should not appear in your summary (or anywhere else on your profile).

Your summary should answer this question: “Why should my ideal employer interview me instead of other applicants?” Think about this answer. Look at your ideal position’s job description. What qualities and skills do they ask for? If you have them, prominently present those qualities and skills to make the decision to call you for an interview easy for employers.

But if you want to really stand out, stating the skills you match is not enough. You must excel in at least one element of value.

Find what sets you apart from the competition. You may not know the individuals you’re applying against, but the LinkedIn search tool can give you valuable insight into professionals with similar career paths as yourself. Search job titles similar to the one you have and the one you want. Compare yourself to their claims and skills.

You’ll find two things: where you excel and where you need improvement. Highlight the area you excel in your summary and value proposition.

While the headline and summary best state your LinkedIn value proposition, don’t forget the other sections that should support your value proposition:

  • Job descriptions
  • Industry category
  • Specialties
  • Skills
  • Courses
  • Organizations
  • The many applications available

All of these should support what you claim as your value proposition.

 

Step #2. Accomplish Continuity

Continuity is making certain that each step of the LinkedIn process either states or supports the value proposition.

As I mentioned in Step #1, everything on your profile should support the value proposition presented in the headline and summary. If the prospective employer read about your SEO skills in the search box, they will expect to see explanations of those skills once they click to see your full profile. If the prospective employer doesn’t immediately see the connection between what they viewed in the search box and what they find on the full profile, they could leave your profile and move on to the next one.

Focusing only on your LinkedIn profile for continuity could hurt your results. You need to look at the whole picture. Where are your profile viewers coming from? While some will come through the search tool, not all of them will.

List where you have links to your profile: personal website, blog, online portfolio, Twitter, Facebook, Google Profile, Google +, etc. Make certain that each online site you maintain a profile on that either directly or indirectly links to LinkedIn either states or supports the value proposition. A simple call-to-action can get the job done with a link to your LinkedIn profile: “If this site perked your interest in me, then learn more on LinkedIn.” While your focus should be on those that connect to LinkedIn, you should consider stating or supporting your value proposition on all sites you maintain a public profile on.

Continuity expands further than just online. An easy mistake to make is not updating all of your resumes together. If you update your hard-copy version, then you electronic ones should be updated, and vice versa. Make sure your LinkedIn and value proposition match the resume and application you’re sending to job openings.

 

Step #3. Attain Credibility

Credibility is making certain that every statement of value is communicated in a way that is instantly credible. There are several ways to do this using Transparent Marketing:

 

–  Let someone else do your bragging

When you want to convey subjective information about yourself, then do so through the voice of your previous employers, colleagues or clients. LinkedIn allows connections to write recommendations. Take advantage of this great tool. Claiming you work hard or thrive in a deadline-oriented environment can’t compare to the previous employers confirming those skills or qualities. Keep in mind, though, that quantity doesn’t trump quality in this instance.

 

– Tell (only) the (verifiable) truth

It can be very tempting to stretch how far your job responsibilities and results really are. Helping to coordinate one aspect of an event does not equal “Planned and managed promotions event for 200 people.” Did you help with the promotions event? Yes. Did you plan and manage it solely or in its entirety? No.

Don’t inflate responsibilities or results. A hard-hitting interview question or a quick call to your former employer can verify that you’ve told the truth, or that you have lied on your LinkedIn profile and/or resume.

 

– Substitute general descriptions with specific facts (qualitative vs. quantitative)

General job descriptions can start to run together. Using quantitative facts can make each job and responsibility stand out. Using quantitative results in your descriptions can also portray you as a results-oriented person, a characteristic that many employers desire. This would include project ROI, budget managed, number of people managed, email clickthrough and open rates, etc.

 

Not This …

 

 


… But This

– Admit your weakness

 

While I wouldn’t suggest showcasing your weakness, certainly don’t hide them either. Trying to cover up your weaknesses with lies will only end in disaster.

According to Forbes, a very common lie people make on their resumes is about technical skill levels. If a position requires proficiency in Photoshop and you say you it have when you don’t, that could come to haunt you very quickly if you secure the position. My resume lists my proficiency in multiple software programs as “beginner-level” – weakness or not, it’s the truth. And multiple interviewers have commented on how refreshing is to see someone truthfully give their skill level.

 

Related resources:

MarketingSherpa Marketing Careers newsletter – Dozens of marketing job openings sent directly to your inbox every week

Marketing Career: Can you explain your job to a six-year-old?

Marketing Career: How to get your next job in marketing

Marketing Career: How to overcome dissatisfaction in marketing jobs

 

 

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16 Comments

  1. Michael Rurup Andersen says

    Hi Selena,

    Thanks for a good post. You provide valuable insights into how and what to fill into ones linkedin profile. Arguable that some of it is quite logic, it needs to be put into words which are easy to understand. Which you managed.

    /Michael

  2. Joanie Flynn says

    Selena, great, clearly written, instructive post! Very helpful to beginners as well as advanced people working to improve their L/I profile.

  3. Sean Golliher says

    Unfortunately, this appears to be pseudoscience. The first problem is that you can’t have a probability that ranges outside the range from 0-1. What are the possible ranges for all the other variables in your equation? For c,v, m, f, i and a? You glossed over the formula. Plug in some values and show us what you get for C. Also, you can’t copyright equations. In the 20+ year I have been in mathematics I have never seen a copyrighted equation. Please plug in some values and show us that this equation is real. m =motivation of user? So what values do you get for this? And what can they be?

  4. Sean Golliher says

    Or, point us to the original paper that explains this math. It appears, by inspection, to be incorrect.

  5. Selena Blue says

    Thanks Sean,

    You make an excellent point. This would make no sense as a mathematical equation. And that’s not how we intend it. Our Conversion Sequence heuristic can be easily confused with a mathematical formula, so I’ll break down our methodology regarding this heuristic for you.

    The Conversion Sequence is a psychological heuristic. It is a thinking tool that brings structure and clarity to the conversion process. We use a mathematical setup to help simplify the process. No values are meant to be used for motivation, value, incentive, friction or anxiety. The coefficients display the importance each variable plays in conversion process. This setup puts the focus and prioritization on the elements on which marketers should focus their optimization energy.

    While we find the setup we use easier to grasp, you can put the heuristic in all text form. You can also say that to likely earn conversion on your landing page, the most important factor is the consumer’s motivation. The second most influential factor is the clarity of the value proposition. The consumer must know why your product is better to buy than one from your competitors. Next, look at the incentive to take action and the friction that consumers face in the conversion process. These two play hand-in-hand. Does the reason they should buy or click outweigh the difficulty they encounter? Finally, anxiety plays a factor as well. This negative variable means that any anxiety they feel will take away from the chance they will convert on your page.

    So, sure, we could write it out. But that would seriously hurt usability. And many marketers who have gone through our Landing Page Optimization course find it convenient to post that heuristic to their office walls, to keep the process front and center, and, most importantly, bring a repeatable process-based approach to a discipline that has always been, quite frankly, pretty undisciplined.

    You can visit MarketingExperiments’ Methodology page for more information on our heuristics.

    And we are currently in the latter half of the patent process for our Conversion Sequence heuristic. Using the copyright symbol is a way of recognizing it as our idea and process and protecting our intellectual property.

    Thanks for reading the blog.

    Selena Blue

  6. Sean Golliher says

    Selena

    The heuristic IS easily confused with a mathematical equation because it is presented as one. So I was confused because I interpreted this as it is presented. Anyone familiar with mathematics will interpret this exactly as shown. That’s how the language works. I realize it is neat to put up equations and that marketers like them and want to hang them up on their office doors etc. However, if your intent is to describe variables that influence conversion rates you should use a proportionality symbol. Or just a function symbol. So it would be C(m,v,i,f,a) proportional to m + v + i – f – a . You can’t put coefficients next to each symbol if you don’t know what they are. They are not derived and by putting an = sign this means exactly what you have shown. It is deceiving to use exact equations. If you want to describe things mathematically there are exact ways of doing it and your equation implies that you determined the coefficients for each variable. If you want to be scientific and you want researchers to take your work seriously than you have to either make up your own language or use the mathematical language correctly. This equation is claiming that i, f, and a are all weighted exactly the same and that m is weighted ~33% more than v. It seems like smoke and mirrors to express things like this when, in fact, it is just a function that “might be” proportional to all the variables you have indicated. Mathematics is either correct or it is not. So when you put up equations you will draw a lot of debate about where the model came from. Unless you are just using mathematics and “science” to sell a service. Which is a big trend in online marketing right now. So most researchers are highly skeptical of marketing companies that produce “science” and equations. You should be using either the proportionality symbol and taking out the values for coefficients. Otherwise, as it is shown, it is incorrect. You can’t put coefficients next to variables you can’t measure with an equal sign in between. It makes no sense and no one will ever take it seriously if you do it in this manner.

    1. Daniel Burstein says

      Sean,
      I admire your passion for this topic, along with your disdain for our many imitators (as you can see on Who.Is, we’ve been doing this for 11 years now).

      But please keep in mind that we have to focus on who our audience is – not mathematicians, but rather marketers. They are less interested in the nuances of theoretical mathematical debates, and more interested in getting lifts for their pages.

      If we used your approach, then that would imply that every factor in the heuristic is of equal importance. They’re not. While we might please math majors, the heuristic would be of little practical help to marketing practitioners, and it has helped thousands in the four or so years we’ve been teaching it. Here’s one example — Converting PPC Traffic: How clarifying value generated 99.4% more conversions on a PPC landing page

      So while I thoroughly agree with you that it’s not perfect, it has helped many marketers improve their job performance – which is our end goal. I believe one reason this is true is because of the simplification. While any time you simplify something, you inherently gloss over certain truths; I side with Einstein when he said …

      “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.”

  7. Sean Golliher says

    Daniel

    If you used my approach you would use K1, K2, K3 and K1>K2>K3 or some other appropriate notation. So if you are going to use numbers in an equation I would say it is deceiving to use real values like 4,3,etc. No where in the original article is the equation explained in a way that makes the reader think these values aren’t real. Or, that you didn’t derive them. I see the word heuristic in a couple paragraphs but then I just see equations. So while you may be attracting a certain audience you are probably pushing away another. This article, up until I see the first equation, does not describe to the reader that these are not REAL equations. So when I read it I think I correctly started asking how you had a probability with a range outside 0-1 and how do you measure the other variables. https://www.marketingexperiments.com/methodology-marketingexperiments.html#heuristics

    You even say that “Research questions are formed and evaluated as hypotheses, which are tested and the outcomes are statistically validated.”

    So I feel the writing and the presentation misguides the reader. I will not accuse you of doing it “on purpose” but I will say that people familiar with this language, research, and statistical techniques will interpret it that way

    And immediately discredit the work. If they are not your audience than it is your choice of course. The equations get stripped out of context and sent around the web. Which is how I saw it and became skeptical.

    I like your quote and I am not trying to make things more complex. I think, in this case, your notation and presentation is making things more complicated. IMO.

    None of this is personal I am trying to talk ABOUT this topic and the way this is information is presented.

    1. Daniel Burstein says

      Thanks Sean.

      My takeaway from this, and you make a very valid point, is increasing the clarity when we mention the Conversion Sequence. Stating that it is not, in fact, a mathematical formula, and point people to our 8-hour course which teaches every element of this heuristic — our Landing Page Optimization Online Course.

      However, I hardly see how your approach is clearer or simpler. The coefficients do have meaning in that they represent the relative weight of each element in the heuristic. We’ve also exposed, probably, hundreds of thousands of marketers to this heuristic, and while we have had a handful who have been confused, thousands have found it helpful, so that’s the most useful data point to me personally.

      In this case, Sean, I believe two men of goodwill simply disagree. But I do thank you very much for your feedback. Whip smart readers like you help constantly raise the bar for, and improve, our content.

  8. Sean Golliher says

    Using numbers in this case is like measuring with a tape measure that only has meter markings and reporting the measurement in millimeters. They have no meaning.

  9. Sean Golliher says

    Thanks Daniel

    Yes. That is my first major point. I think my approach is less confusing because we are not led to believe that you actually solved an equation. This approach, to me, is very clear and less confusing. If you are trying to sell to marketing people and it works then that is your choice. We already know that conversion rates are proportional to parameters we can’t measure. So the notation, and the language used, should not be written in a way that confuses any reader. Otherwise you are at risk of technical readers assuming one of two things:

    1. You don’t understand mathematics and derived an equation that makes no sense.
    2. You purposely wrote the article to sell your audience, non-technical people, something on the back end. Like a lot of other companies are doing right now.

    This is a trend. After all, if you include “The science of X” in your titles you get a lot of clicks and sign-ups for webinars. Marketers will exploit this for as long as possible. There is no discussion about the methods used or if the science is even correct. Because they just want to sell something. Not find out if their science is actually correct. If one does speak out they usually react with great opposition.

    Based on other articles I am seeing I am not, at this point, accusing you of 1 or 2 but you are at risk of a technical audience forming one of these opinions. Which I don’t think you want.

    I like the concept of learning aids that can help marketers solve some of the problems that have a balance of art and science built in. This is a great idea because some of these problems are not solvable.

    Anyway, we can disagree on this. I am used to it being in disagreement on technical problems.

    Thanks, Selena and Daniel, for taking the time to respond.

  10. Tom says

    Sean…I knew exactly what they meant. They nailed the conversion variables, and the way they present them provides an easy interpretation of scale of importance. Marketing people do know enough math to know that its a fake equation, as we have to understand statistical math and its bases of algebra and trig, so instead we begin to analyze for context. And in context, it’s pretty clever and useful. I found this entire article to be better than most blog posts. And no, I do not know or have any relation to the authors.

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