How to Create a LinkedIn Profile When You Have More Than One Hat
In these days of portfolio careers, it is increasingly common for people to wear more than one hat. You may be a freelancer working for several different businesses or a senior executive with multiple directorships or perhaps you are employed but run a business in your spare time.
How do you reflect this on LinkedIn when you are only allowed one profile page?
Ultimately there is no one size fits all solution, however, I believe there are some simple strategies that can help you to present the different parts of your work-self in a way that makes sense as a whole.
Here are my suggestions:
Use the headline to advertise your core expertise
Your professional headline (120 characters) is immediately underneath your name on the profile page. It defaults to your job title but you can use it instead to position yourself by focusing on and describing your core expertise. The reader gets an immediate impression of what you offer.
Here are two examples, in both cases the member has more than one current position:
Use a well-chosen custom image
LinkedIn’s custom image gives an opportunity to reinforce your branding visually, without specific reference to a current position.
Here is an example of how a freelance event manager is reinforcing his brand with the custom image.
Spell out and explain your different roles in the summary
LinkedIn’s summary has 2,000 characters you can use this to spell out exactly what you do and for whom. You may also need to explain how the different roles relate to each other.
If you have several current roles I suggest decide which role you want to prioritise, create a heading and devote 50% of the space explaining what the organisation does for whom, what exactly you do and how you add value for your customers. Keep it simple, pay attention to layout, use bullet points and paragraphing to make it easy to read, you can add more detail in the experience section.
Give 25% of the remaining space to your other roles under separate headings.
In the last 25% include a paragraph titled “Specialities”, this is where you put the keywords that you want to be found for across all your roles. This will optimise your profile page for search without annoying your reader by cluttering the main text with keywords.
After reading your summary the reader should be able to easily explain your different roles to someone else.
Don’t forget to tell people how they can get in touch with you for each hat you wear.
Use images and video to add depth and clarity
We love images don’t we, still or moving. Adding some visuals to your summary and your experience sections is a great way to grab the reader’s attention and helps them engage with your story.
Be careful however not to confuse the reader with too many images in the summary section, it may be better, for example, to save all the role specific images and videos for the experience section of your profile.
Use the experience sections to add more role specific information
Having given an overview of your roles in the summary you can now give more detail in the experience section.
You have 2,000 characters for each position you list so there is plenty of room to expand on each position. If you have multiple roles it may be enough just to summarise the roles’ aim and scope as below.
LinkedIn allows us to re-order the top two current positions (but only the top two). Move the role you want to feature most prominently to the top.
Use role specific images and videos.
This is one of 8 current roles for marketing expert John Courtney
Use skills and endorsements to draw attention to your key skills
Since the LinkedIn desktop redesign and the end of last year only your top 3 skills are displayed, as below. You can re-order these. Make sure the ones showing reflect the emphasis you have given in the rest of your profile.
Now only top 3 endorsements are displayed initially
If it’s just too difficult or confusing to choose three representative skills, you can turn off the endorsements feature entirely and LinkedIn will just display a list of all your skills.
Writing articles on LinkedIn is a great way to boost your brand and promote your expertise. If you have several very different hats it could be confusing for the reader (and the LinkedIn algorithm) if you write about too many topics.
My advice would be therefore that less is more. Write about those topics which are really important to you. Your passion will come across in the article and the reader will be engaged.
Big picture, little picture
The approach I am suggesting could be called big picture, little picture because you are using the professional headline and summary section to give an overview of who you are, the different roles you fill, and how this all ties together. In the experience section, you can then give more details about individual roles.
I hope this post has been useful and those of you who combine a position as Lion Tamer with one as an IT Analyst, or similar, will see that it is quite possible to incorporate multiple roles into your LinkedIn profile.
Remember the key is to craft something that the reader will find easy to digest and understand. Profile viewed = profile understood
I would love to hear your ideas on how you have tackled this LinkedIn challenge.