LinkedIn has the unfortunate distinction of being the most boring social network.

Facebook allows you to stay in touch with friends, Pinterest helps you get inspired, Twitter gives you breaking news as it happens.

But LinkedIn? It’s just not that much fun.

But that’s okay. LinkedIn isn’t there to entertain you. It’s there to get you a job. A good LinkedIn profile could mean the difference between landing your dream job or internship, and struggling to find a position.

And the good news is that creating a quality LinkedIn profile doesn’t take long at all. In fact, I’ll show you how to set up a killer profile in about an hour.

Why LinkedIn Matters

But first, why you should care:

Many clinical directors will research candidates online as part of the hiring process. After all, if extra information about a candidate is available from a simple Google search, why not use it to help make better hiring decisions?

This creates an opportunity for you. If you cultivate an online presence that creates a positive impression, you’ll have a significant advantage against candidates who are invisible online – or worse, whose online presence includes unflattering photos or unprofessional profiles. A high-quality LinkedIn profile sends the message that you are a high-quality candidate.

Of course, you’ll make the biggest impact on your online presence by building your own website, which is pretty easy and affordable even if you’re not tech-savvy. But LinkedIn plays a big role in your online impression as well, and has the advantage of being totally free.

Plus, it’s not that hard to set up, so let’s get started!

Step 1: Get A High-Quality, Professional Photo

Your photo is the first thing that people will see when they open your LinkedIn profile. Make sure it’s a good one.

Ideally, you would hire a professional photographer to take your photo. But if you can’t afford that, here are some tips for making sure your photo makes a great impression:

  • Dress professionally. Save the jeans and t-shirt for Facebook. Your LinkedIn photo should show you dressed like you would for an interview.
  • Avoid blurry or dim photos.
  • Don’t have anyone else in the photo – and we can tell if you cropped them out.
  • Focus on just your head, or your head and upper body. If the photo is of your entire body, then it will be hard to recognize you in the thumbnail.
  • Make sure you have a professional background. A blank wall or an outdoor scene is fine. A bar or your living room, not so much.

Step 2: Fill Out Your Experience

The Experience section of LinkedIn is essentially your resume. Most people are unlikely to read it in depth – who really cares about the job you had ten years ago? But many people will skim through it to get a sense of who you are and what you can offer, so it pays to make sure this section is filled out.

Remember though, you’re writing it for people who are probably going to skim. So write it in such a way that your impressive accomplishments are easy for people to notice. Think quality over quantity. Try to include every position (so there are no strange gaps in your timeline), but include only the important details. If it’s not interesting, delete it.

A good way of writing your experience section is to have a one or two sentence summary of each position, plus 3-5 bullet points that detail your biggest accomplishments or most impressive responsibilities in that position.

Another way is to have three short paragraphs (1-2 sentences each.) One paragraph which summarizes the position, one which lists your significant accomplishments, and one which talks about the skills you developed or displayed. For instance, if I listed writing this post as a position on LinkedIn, I might say:

LinkedIn Profile Guru

As a LinkedIn Profile Guru, I helped readers build a perfect LinkedIn profile.

My LinkedIn profile advice was read by over 100,000 people and helped lead to the creation of 500 new LinkedIn profiles.

As a LinkedIn profile guru, my success was driven by my ability to develop expert LinkedIn strategies, write in a style that was clear and enjoyable to read, and incorporate feedback from my editors.”

You can pick whatever format works best for you, as long as you make sure your experience section is easy to skim.
Here’s a quick test. Show your experience section to a friend for thirty seconds and then ask them what they remember from it. If their answer doesn’t include any of your impressive accomplishments or traits, rewrite.

Remember that you don’t need an impressive job to have impressive accomplishments – a hiring director is likely to be interested in someone who did a great job in a boring position, or a student who was able to achieve something significant in a class.

Step 3: Write a Summary

After the photo, your summary is the first thing that visitors to your LinkedIn profile will see.

Unfortunately, most people forget to fill this out. Don’t be one of them.

You have two good options for your summary. One is the “elevator pitch” approach, where take just 1-2 sentences and try to sum up your most impressive abilities and accomplishments.

This works well if you’ve accomplished something that you want to highlight – for instance, I founded a social skills website, so you’d better believe I mention that in my summary. Another option is to highlight one specific area of interest – for instance, you might write something like, “Student clinician passionate about cognitive behavioral approaches to trauma treatment.”

The second option is the “cover letter” approach, where you write a few short paragraphs that tell your professional story. If you’ve written cover letters for internships or practicums, you might be able to adapt that material for your summary. Otherwise, try writing one paragraph that summarizes your work experience, one paragraph that summarizes your areas of expertise, and one paragraph that summarizes where you’re hoping to go professionally.

Extra Credit

Follow those three steps, and your LinkedIn profile will look a lot better than most other clinicians.

But if you want to make it even better, here’s five more quick steps:

  • Check it once a year and update if necessary.
  • Create a custom URL for your profile.
  • Ask for recommendations from bosses, supervisors, and professors. Having a recommendation or two on your LinkedIn profile makes it stand out.
  • Fill out the rest of the profile (awards, volunteer interests, etc.)
  • Write a few LinkedIn blog posts on professional topics

That’s really all there is to it. Now celebrate, and enjoy your snazzy new profile!


[ Image via Twin Design / ]

Daniel Wendler, PsyD