How To Make A LinkedIn Profile (When You Have No Clue What You’re Doing)

As an artist who primarily worked in the events industry pre-pandemic, making a LinkedIn felt unnecessary. It’s not something we discussed in theatre school, and it was never something I needed… until now.

With rather crippling anxiety and a clouded sense of professional self-worth, creating my LinkedIn account took time and patience. That’s why I want to make it easier for you.

While this guide is primarily targeted at young adults, recent graduates, college students, and/or those making a professional pivot, hopefully, some of these tips will help increase your confidence, and validate your experiences.

Photo by Prateek Katyal on Unsplash

10 Step Guide To Making (Or Upping) Your LinkedIn

If your previous job experience does not reflect the career you wish to pursue, you might be under the assumption that those experiences do not matter. That’s not true.

Let’s say your resume looked something like mine… a lot of part-time jobs… restaurant jobs… nannying… catering or prep-cook positions… temp receptionist roles… and/or college-call-center-representative gigs… an eclectic customer service resume. These experiences still matter.

If you have a degree that is within a different industry than your current pursuit, you might be under the assumption that your degree is suddenly irrelevant. False.

Remember: all skills are transferable. All experiences can matter. It’s just about how you frame it.

  1. Your Headline: One of the first things LinkedIn will ask for is a headline. AKA, your current job title. What you put here can depend on what you are trying to accomplish with this page. Maybe you’re just trying to create a platform to share your professional work, or you’re ready to start job searching, and want to start targeting positions that appeal to your interests. In either case, you can use titles like “Artist”, “Musician”, “Writer”, “Designer”, etc. Even if that’s not how you’re making money at the moment, that is your personal headline. And it might be more in line with the positions you’re searching for, unlike the ones you currently have. If you’d like to keep it broad, you can even make your headline “Seeking New Opportunities” or “[Blank] Professional Seeking Work.”
  2. Current Position: Unemployed? Not doing what you’d like to be doing? This entire section can be reason enough to procrastinate on making your page. Don’t let it get you down. In fact, it’s not even a required field.
  3. About: Here is your chance to give a little more clarity about who you are, and what you’re interested in doing. You can keep it short, a few sentences will suffice. Not sure how to frame it? Here’s an example: “I am currently pursuing my interest for [insert here] in [insert city here] and plan to utilize my skills of [insert here] while seeking positions in [blank].”
  4. Experience: If you are a recent graduate or still in school, listing any experience is perfectly understandable. Showing that you have experience in the working world, regardless of the industry, is a good place to start. If you are a young adult with eclectic experiences, or a person trying to pivot careers, you can use a bit more discretion with what to include. For example, if you have 4 previous restaurant jobs, but you don’t have any intention of pursuing a career in the restaurant industry, perhaps you can select 2 of the positions you stayed at the longest, or where you had the most responsibilities. This section is another opportunity to explain why your experiences are relevant. Harvard Law School has an entire list of action verbs that you can use to explain your responsibilities. Here’s an example: (Mad-lib style) “Anticipated guest’s needs, and used [blank] skill to foster a positive environment, while also…” You get the idea! It’s all about how you frame it. If you can, make sure to quantify your experiences whenever possible. Numbers are a hiring manager’s best friend.
  5. Skills & Endorsements: Include all skills — that means soft skills too. For example, if you’re good at time management, organization, teamwork, etc, include those. (Be honest, obviously. If you don’t have great attention to detail, don’t pretend like you do!) Ask friends or family to endorse these skillsets to get you started.
  6. Assessments: If you’re trying to pivot careers, or trying to elevate in your current industry, taking some LinkedIn assessments might work in your favor. With a passed assessment, you’ll also get a badge on your skill to prove it. Passing these assessments can also give you early access to job postings, or at least early notification about openings. Beware: if you do not pass the assessment, you will need to wait a few months before you’re allowed to take it again.
  7. Connections: The best piece of advice I received when creating my page was to add everyone. Sure, adding people from high school might feel awkward to you, but no one else will blink twice. The benefit: when you are looking for a job, you will be able to see if anyone you know is a mutual connection. The best way to leverage your network is to expand it as much as possible. And generally speaking, most people actually do want to help each other out. Don’t feel like you have to wait until your page is “perfect” to add people.
  8. Job Searching: By following these steps, once you’re ready to look for a job, your page will be good to go. Of course, this part can be equally as daunting. The good part about LinkedIn is that it will show you job postings based on your profile. (Which is another reason why putting your headline as the passion you do in your free time>current position can help.) Anyway, once you’re ready to look, you can search by skill, city, and further specify based on experience level (entry-level, associate, senior), job type (part-time, full-time, freelance), and identify whether you’d like to only find remote positions. Start browsing even before you’re ready to apply, and you will become more comfortable with the format.
  9. Profile Stalking: Another good reason to stop procrastinating on your LinkedIn page — find out what other people have done! If there is a particular position or company that you are interested in, go to their page and look at the people who work there. Look at the people who are in roles that appeal to you. You will be able to see their prior experience and even find ideas for positions, programs, and role titles that might not have occurred to you before.
  10. Cold Messaging: You don’t need to have a premium account to message people. Just send them a request to connect, and add a short note about why. Cold messaging can be a shot in the dark, so don’t sweat it if you don’t get a response. But you will definitely not get a response if you don’t even try. If you would like to learn more about a company or a position, or you find someone with a background in something you wish to pursue, don’t be afraid to reach out. Here’s an example: “Hi, [blank]. My name is [blank]. I was hoping to connect with you and ask about your current position with [blank company]. I’m really interested in breaking into [blank industry] and I would love to connect with you to discuss your previous experiences. Let me know if you’d be open to chatting! Thanks.” Always ask for a phone call, and if they respond, always suggest a date/time. Don’t leave that responsibility up to the person who is doing you a favor. If you do get the chance to chat with someone on the phone for an informational interview, make sure to have questions prepared. Phone calls will also be a great way to find out more information, while also making a personal connection and expanding your network. (PS. A thank-you note never hurts!)
Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

If you are hoping to pivot industries but do not even know where to begin, this process can be that much more intimidating. Take a deep breath, write a list of your skills, your strengths, your interests, and your values. With that, hopefully, you’ll be able to feel more centered and ready to go.

If you feel too overwhelmed with your current job(s) to even begin this process, don’t be afraid to ask for help. There is no shame in trying to elevate your situation, and people are often much more willing to help than you might expect. One step at a time, we’re in this together!

Artist, writer, and host of the podcast "Thoughtful Intentions." www.fionawinch.com

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