For the career-minded professional, LinkedIn is an essential tool in a job search. In the 2016 JobVite Recruiter Nation report, 87% of recruiters found LinkedIn most effective when vetting candidates during the hiring process.

Take time this post-Thanksgiving weekend to audit your profile. Is it complete?

LinkedIn considers a profile complete when it contains: (1) A profile picture. (2) Your industry and location. (3) Up-to-date current position (with description). (4) Two past positions. (5) Your education. (6) Minimum of three skills. (7) And, a minimum of 50 connections.

A profile that is complete receives 40 times more opportunities (contacts from prospective hiring managers and recruiters) than incomplete profiles (based on LinkedIn’s own research). If you’ve assessed your profile and it is complete, the next step is ensuring your it is engaging and compels the reader to take action.

What you get out of LinkedIn depends on what you put into it!

To make a powerful first impression, you need a professional profile picture, a memorable headline, and a top-notch summary.

Start with your headline. LinkedIn works like a search engine so, if you want people to find you, you need to use keywords that align with your industry and target position.

Sample Headline: ✦COO ✦CTO ✦CIO innovating enterprise business transformations in Telecommunications & Travel organizations

The above headline is keyword searchable and distinctive as the individual is known for business transformations in two specific industries. Use keywords you think people will use to find a person with your expertise. In other words, what would they Google?

An engaging profile picture speaks volumes.  Research shows having a visible picture makes your profile 14 times more likely to be viewed then those who don’t. Make sure your profile picture is up-to-date and is a true reflection of you (no glamour shots or unrealistic depictions). You also want to make sure you are visible in the photo (no long-distance shots with you at the Grand Canyon or on the beach). And, avoid using a group photo and/or cropping yourself out of one. The goal is to communicate you are friendly, approachable, and trustworthy.

Crop your photo so your face is visible and fills most of the frame.

Summarize your professional story. The first 92 to 220 characters are visible (depending upon the device you are using to view information) and need to be the most engaging! What makes you stand out from others in the same career space?

My LI summary opens with “Change is hard, but on the other side of that change is a miracle in disguise.” —Dr. Jen Bennett ➺➺ Whether by choice or by pink slip, making a career change can be difficult but the other side of the coin is new opportunities…

Use the remaining 1800+ characters to help the reader understand who you are and the value you offer. What are your strengths? Past successes?

Make sure you include keywords that are relevant to your industry and incorporate graphic elements ►❖ ■ ★ to highlight areas of interest.

End your summary with a call to action. Do you want the person to connect with you? Call you? Email you? Let them know!

Your experience. This professional, online snapshot should complement (not repeat verbatim) your resume. Keep the focus on demonstrating the value you offer. Yes, you sell widgets (so do thousands of other people). What makes you different? Include awards and statistics! The goal is to set yourself apart!

► Secured $40M in new contracts (2016) for the leading consumer-based VoIP provider. Will a competitor be able to say the same?

Again, breakup text by using graphic elements to highlight key information and use short sentences to keep your reader engaged.

Skills & Endorsements. Don’t skip this section. LinkedIn members who include skills receive 13 times more profile views!

Groups. Join groups and follow companies! Your profile is 5 times more likely to be viewed if you join and are active in groups.

Education. List your academic achievements (but leave off high school education). People who have included education in their profile receive, on average, 10 times more views than those who don’t.

Having a top-notch profile is another way to set yourself apart in a crowded job market so take some time to review and optimize your presence on LinkedIn today!

Need help writing your resume or LinkedIn profile? I’d love to know more about you and the dreams you have for taking your career to the next level. Reach out to start the conversation

All the best in your job search!

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Tammy Shoup is a career storyteller and professional resume writer who helps career professionals, thought leaders, rising stars, and high-level executives create branded resumes that demonstrate their unique value, engage their target audience, and give them a competitive edge in their field. She is a multi-certified advanced resume writer with 20 years’ experience writing words that change lives.[/author_info] [/author]