LinkedIn! In a series of four posts, we are delving into LinkedIn and discussing its advantages for science PhDs. In this post, I will go over some basics of the LinkedIn profile – editing your profile, the profile picture, and your professional headline. Along the way, I will share examples and tips.
What is LinkedIn?
LinkedIn is an online platform that helps you “build and engage with your professional network.” The basic premise is that you have an online profile similar to a CV and you can connect with others, establishing a visible professional network.
In this post, I will focus on creating your professional identity, your LinkedIn profile. Your profile is a window into your professional journey and may be your first interaction with recruiters, hiring managers, potential bosses, and other scientists. Ergo you must present yourself professionally, with both images and words.
Editing Your Profile – Turn OFF the Notifications
First, I encourage you to edit your profile at least twice a year or whenever a major career change happens.
Second, when you edit your profile, turn off the notifications. Your network doesn’t need to know that you changed a little thing in your experience section.
The notification feature is great for letting your network know that you switched jobs or got a big award. But otherwise turn off this feature.
The Profile Picture
A profile picture is necessary! For me, my eye passes over people without profile pictures. I cannot connect the name with a real-life person. A profile without a profile picture does not seem genuine, while, in comparison, one with a photo engages the eye. This is also an opportunity to appear warm and inviting. Take advantage of the chance to build a sense of trust with someone before you even meet them!
A few tips. I have chatted with several recruiters about the profile picture and picked up a few suggestions.
- In the picture – ONLY YOU. Some people put up their wedding photo. I understand that this is a significant moment and you both look wonderful. But I am confused whose profile it is. Be direct. Have a photo of you, by yourself.
- Background – Neutral, Outdoors. The goal of the photo is for them to look at you. Don’t let the eyes of the recruiter get distracted by your surroundings. The lighting should be even and of good quality. Avoid shadows on your face and behind you. Also keep in mind the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds in photography suggests that in a headshot, your face should only occupy 1/3 of the image. If the picture is just your face, it is not visually appealing. Alternatively if your face is too small, a connection might not recognize you.
- Apparel – Professional dress. Dress in business casual with business jackets and collars. Myself, I prefer professional sweaters and dresses.
- Facial Expression – SMILE!!! No sexy or cute face. Have a warm smile. Be you!
- Quality – Medium. Professional photographers and high-quality cameras are nice. But I don’t have these. I asked my cousin who works for a TV news station to take and edit my photo. Maybe you can ask a friend with a quality camera to take your photo. If not, use your phone. There are some great apps that provide free filters to edit your photo. Adobe Photoshop is also a great program. The goal is to have a strong, clear image of YOU!! Avoid graininess, shadows, and weird enhancements.
The Professional Headline
When people look you up, they first see your professional headline. It is a statement of who you are professionally, such as Biochemist. I encourage you to use the professional headline as a marketing device.
- If you are trying to apply for positions outside of academia, try a title like Biochemist, rather than Graduate Student. By doing this, recruiters searching through LinkedIn Premium might find you more quickly.
- Or you could reword your position. Instead of Graduate Student, how about D. Candidate or Pre-doctoral Fellow.
- Do you have a fellowship? Try NIH (Insert Award Code e.g. K99) Post-Doctorate Fellow at Yale.
Observations: Some people are putting check marks and adjectives into their professional headlines. I am not a fan. Let your audience judge if you are a Successful Biochemist. Your experience and publications speak for you.
Note: The professional headline has a 120 character limit.
Simplify Your LinkedIn Page Web Address
LinkedIn provides a letter and number code for your LinkedIn page. However you can simplify it to your name or a simple handle.
First, click on the gear icon next to the web address on your profile. Hover your mouse to the right side it for the gear icon to appear.
A new page will load. On the right side, there will be a banner with the edit option for the web address. I used my name. Luckily it’s unique and was available. If your name is not available, use alternatives like ‘TVallery’ or ‘tenayavallery_biochemist.’ Remember to stick to professional handles.
In closing, the LinkedIn profile is for professional purposes. Ergo you should approach your profile picture and headline through a lens of professionalism. Good luck!
Please reach out to me to provide feedback or ask questions. I am happy to help.