With many companies ramping up hiring in January, the beginning of the year is a great time to start or resume a career change. That means it’s an ideal time to update your resume and tweak your documents. But don’t stop there! A well-maintained LinkedIn profile is essential in the modern landscape, so the new year represents a chance to make sure your profile is up-to-date and easy on the eyes.

“When people want to research you in a professional capacity— even people who work down the hall from you—they’ll typically go directly to LinkedIn and type your name in the search box at the top of the screen.” –William Arruda, Forbes

Even if you aren’t looking for a job right now, it’s a good idea to keep your LinkedIn updated. You never know when a new opportunity may come your way, and many believe the country is heading toward a recession. Be prepared for anything the new year may throw your way by taking these steps toward a revamped LinkedIn profile!

Update your headshot

The first thing a recruiter or hiring manager will see on your profile will be your photo. Just like with dating apps, you always want that photo to actually look like you! While you likely aren’t trying to catfish an employer with your looks, it’s still best to have a current professional photo.

If you don’t have a professional photo, now is the time to take one! And even if you have one, it’s never a bad idea to update it with a more current one. Make sure you’re in proper attire for your field and that the photo clearly shows your face.

Aspiration Marketing says to not neglect your background or banner picture, either. This often underutilized spot can highlight you in different ways. Whether it’s a shot of you in action, highlights something you’ve accomplished in your field, or sets the tone you’re trying to portray, you can make this real estate spot work for you and stand out.

Find the right headline

Your photo will be the first thing visitors notice, but your summary section is a close second. Your headline, in particular, will drive your traffic. The correct headline sells exactly who you are, what your skills are, and what you bring to the table. The wrong headline can be vague, meandering, or boring.

Work It Daily’s Jenna Arcand writes that it’s a mistake to only list your name and current job title. You want to optimize your limited space by utilizing the right keywords and highlighting your four or five most valuable skills. This requires some research and a good base of knowledge of the most desirable skills in your field. This will make sure you appear in searches and that recruiters can find you.

“Write for your target audience. For example:

Advertising Sales Rep helping clients create winning branding strategies. Over 300 successful clients.

Just like that you’ve told them your job, what you bring to the table, and provided a little credibility easily and effectively.” –Ken Chase, TopResume

Spruce up the language

While your headline is going to bring in your audience, you want to keep them engaged throughout. That means you should utilize keywords, trim up the word choices on past positions, and highlight the correct accomplishments.

We’ve discussed the importance of tailoring your resume toward the position you seek with keywords, and that advice holds true on LinkedIn as well. If you want to show up in searches, you need the right keywords. And the right keywords will show that you’re clearly capable of doing the job you seek. Make sure to use action verbs and add the accomplishments you’re proud of.

TopResume’s Ken Chase says not to neglect your skills either. Again, look at the most desirable skills for your industry and make sure those skills are visible on your profile, especially in your actual skills section. By tidying up the language of your profile, you’ll appear like a new, even better candidate.

Use engaging media

But text alone won’t get you everywhere. Hiring managers only have so much time to read each profile, and looking at so much text can make the eyes glaze over. Attract their interest and stand out from the crowd by including relevant media!

LinkedIn’s Tequia Burt stresses the importance of finding the right images and videos to stand out from the crowd. Whether you’re a job seeker or a company looking to expand your brand, you can upload native videos directly to your profile as well as your own images. This can be a way to highlight big projects you’ve done or show off some of your creative portfolio.

If you’ve written anything off-site or had your accomplishments highlighted elsewhere, you can directly link the relevant material to your profile to save hiring managers an extra step.

Add some personality

While taking these steps, don’t be afraid to make your profile feel like your profile. That is, make sure to show off your personality.

Resume Worded reminds us that a resume and a LinkedIn profile are different tools. While you still want to be professional, you can afford to take more creative liberties with your LinkedIn profile. Don’t forget, it IS a social media platform. You can feel free to add personal details beyond work, directly tell potential employers what you’re looking for, and give them direct ways to contact you.

Wrap up

Having an online presence is essential for the modern job search. Even if you’re a savvy LinkedIn user, chances are, you can make some needed updates to your profile to bring in the new year. Taking these steps now will make job searching and networking easier throughout the rest of the year and set you ahead of the competition!

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