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Writing about yourself tends to be one of those deeply unpleasant things – like listening to your own voice or clipping your toenails – that if given the choice most of us would quickly opt out of.

Once upon a time, your resume might have been the only time you ever had to write about yourself (and hiring managers the only people who saw it). But now your professional profile is out there for all to see. It’s your first chance to impress your future boss or potential client – you can’t afford to waste it.

So if you’ve been putting it off, make some time to get your LinkedIn profile up to scratch. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Think about your audience

Start by targeting your profile to the person you ideally want reading it. If you’re looking for work, that’s a recruiter. If you’re a salesperson, it’s your client. Think about what they want to know, and make that message shine through loud and clear.

Remember, most people don’t really care about you. They just want to solve their own problems. Show them how you can help them do it.

  1. Have a profile picture

A professional headshot is an instant facelift for your online profile. You don’t need to pay a photographer – a clean picture against a blank wall will work wonders. Steer clear of party or social shots – and if you’re looking slightly left towards your profile, it subconsciously conveys trust in what you’ve written.

  1. Use the first person

Here’s the thing. We all know you wrote your own summary. If it’s in third person, you look like the kind of person who thinks it’s okay to talk about themselves in third person. (It’s not. Ever.) This one leads to the next point…

  1. Use your own voice

Lose the buzzwords and overly formal verbiage, and write using the language you’d use when interacting in a real-life professional setting. (Although feel free to up the confidence. It’s easier and more acceptable to toot your own horn a bit on LinkedIn.)

Your LinkedIn profile is an opportunity for the real person to step out from the resume – and it will be all the more powerful when it’s honest, genuine and jargon free.

  1. Tell a little bit of your story in the description of each role you’ve had

Under each of your past positions, include a brief blurb detailing what you did and what you learned, and make it engaging by linking it into your overall career story. “I joined Company X because…” and “At Y Industries I first learned some of the skills that have got me to where I am today, including…” both work.

  1. Ask for recommendations and endorsements

But avoid sending out requests en masse.

Make sure your messages are personalised, and you’re only approaching people who a) you actually know and b) you’re sure will leave a glowing reference.

If you don’t want to ask (or even if you do), a great way to get recommendations is to leave them for others. Drop recommendations on people you’ve worked with without being asked – you’ll boost their day, and they might even take the time to write you one in return.

The golden rule for a good recommendation is to be specific – what did this person teach you, what did they do that made your life easier, what great projects did you tackle as a team? Don’t forget to express your gratitude.

  1. Join groups and follow organisations

Groups look good on your profile and they can also be super valuable resources for job search, networking and branding. Try to find groups targeted to more specific member types – if you’re an accountant in Sydney, for example, you’ll probably get more out of a “Sydney Accountants” group than a “Finance Professionals” one. (That said, it all depends on why you’re joining the group in the first place.)

And if the thought of writing about yourself is still too unbearable, perhaps you’d like a hand? With your resume and some quick getting-to-know-you questions, we can craft a personalised professional profile for you that hones in on your story and hooks your audience in.

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